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The Agricultural Revolution Index

Introduction to the Agricultural Revolution

The Industrial Revolution Index

Introduction to the First Industrial Revolution

The Textile Industry Index

Introduction to the Textile Industry
James Hargreaves and the Spinning Jenny
Richard Arkwright and the Water Frame
Edmund Cartwright and the Power Loom
Samuel Crompton and the Spinning Mule
Brief History of the Cotton Industry

History Chapters Main Index

 

Chronology of the Textile Industry

1733

Kay patented the Flying Shuttle.

1730

1742

Cotton mills were opened at Birmingham and Northampton.

1743

Lancashire mill owners imported East India yarns to improve the quality of textiles

1740

1753

An angry mob of weavers wrecked Kay's house.

1750

1764

Hargreaves designed the Spinning Jenny.
Arkwright designed the Water Frame.

1768

An angry mob destroyed Arkwright's mill at Chorely

1769

Arkwright patented the Water Frame.

1760

1770

Hargreaves patented the Spinning Jenny.

1771

Arkwright opened his mill at Cromford.

1773

The first all-cotton textiles were produced.

1779

Crompton designed the Spinning Mule.

1770

1783

Arkwright's mill at Masson was opened.

1785

Cartwright patented the power loom.

1787

Cotton goods production was 10 times more than in 1770.

1789

Samuel Slater brought textile machinery design to the US.

1780

1790

Arkwright's steam powered factory was built in Nottingham.

1792

Grimshaw's factory in Manchester was destroyed by an angry mob of weavers and spinners.
Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin.

1790

1804

Joseph Marie Jacquard invented a device using punched card to weave complex designs.

1806

English textile mills were forced to close down as supplies of cotton from the US South ran short.

1800

1813

Horrocks invented the speed batton

1810

 

TWO CENTURIES OF REVOLUTIONARY CHANGE

Custom Search

The Industrial Revolution

John Kay and the Flying Shuttle

Before the invention of the flying shuttle by John Kay in 1733, it was only possible for cloth to be woven up to a maximum of the width of a man's body, across his arms. This was because he had to pass the shuttle backwards and forwards, from hand to hand.

 

A weaver using a hand loom

A weaver using a hand loom

John Kay's invention allowed the shuttle, containing the thread, to be shot backwards and forwards across a much wider bed. The flying shuttle also allowed the thread to be woven at a faster rate, thus enabling the process of weaving to become faster.

 

The flying shuttle

Shuttle with bobin - released into the Public Domain by Audrius Meskauskas

 

John Kay (1704-1764)

John Kay

John Kay
This image was provided by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council
for use in the Cotton Town digitisation project: www.cottontown.org

 

John Kay was the son of a wool manufacturer in Bury, Lancashire. He was just a young man when he became the manager of one of his father's mills. Kay developed skills as a machinist and engineer. He made many improvements to the machines in the mill.

In May 1733, Kay patented his "New Engine of Machine for Opening and Dressing Wool". This machine included the Flying Shuttle. Before the invention of the Flying Shuttle, weavers had to pass the shuttle through the warp threads by hand. Kay's invention put the shuttle on wheels and controlled it with a driver. The weaver operated the shuttle by pulling a cord attached to the driver. When this cord was pulled to the left, the driver caused the shuttle to shoot ("fly") through the warp in the same direction. Pulling the cord to the right sent the shuttle back.

The Flying Shuttle was able to do the work of two people even more quickly. In 1753, an angry mob of weavers, afraid of the competition, wrecked Kay's house and destroyed his looms. However, since it halved labour costs, the textile industry was quick to adopt Kay's invention, but it was not so keen to pay him anything for it. The manufacturers formed an association which refused to pay Kay any royalties.

Kay lost all of his money in legal battles to defend his patent. He eventually moved to France where he is thought to have died a poor man.

 

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© Shirley Burchill, Nigel Hughes, Richard Gale, Peter Price and Keith Woodall 2017

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