Discover exactly how Richard Arkwright kick-started a change in the textiles industry and also created a vision the the machine-powered, factory-based future the manufacturing.

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Since the at an early stage 18th century, manufacturers had actually been searching for inventive methods to fulfill the ever-growing need for noodle cloth and also yarn. Finally, in 1767, a breakthrough came as soon as a Lancashire entrepreneur, Richard Arkwright (1732–92), devised a straightforward but remarkable spinning machine. Instead of the job-related of human being hands, the water structure made it feasible to spin noodle yarn more quickly and in better quantities than ever before.


Cotton fabric has to be made approximately the human being for hundreds of years. Merchants very first brought it to Britain indigenous India approximately 500 years ago. It was lighter, brighter and could it is in washed and dried an ext easily than the heavy, woollen fabrics that human being in brother were supplied to. The was likewise a valuable trading commodity, with sellers exchanging fabric for goods across the world.


Hand painted cotton cloth sample known as a palampore, make in India about 1700–1800, for export come Europe.
science Museum team more information about Hand painted cotton fabric sample well-known as a palampore, do in India about 1700–1800, because that export come Europe.

The heat for noodle drove entrepreneurial equipments in brother to search for means to fulfill the increasing demand. Some began experimenting through the development of spinning machines, which they hoped would rate up the manufacturing of cotton yarn by acquisition over the slow work-related done by human hands utilizing spinning wheels. 


What is spinning?

When noodle is picked from the plant it grow on, the weak fibres break and pull personally easily. To do cotton solid enough to be woven right into cloth, it very first needs to it is in spun. Turn is the process of twisting together drawn-out fibres the cotton into a strong, single strand, referred to as yarn.


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Arkwright's water frame, 1775. (spinning machine) scientific research Museum group Collection
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Arkwright's turn wheel distaff (spinning) scientific research Museum group
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spinning Wheel thought to have belonged come Richard Arkwright (1732-1792). Through engraving, by unknown maker. Scientific research Museum team Collection
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Arkwright's Wrap-reel Winding Wheel, English, 1769-1775 (winding machines; textile machines) science Museum group Collection
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Portrait oil painting copy of initial of Richard Arkwright, 1858 (oil painting; portrait) science Museum group Collection
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Richard Arkwright (oil painting; portrait) scientific research Museum group Collection

More information around collection object


suggestions for more research


RS Fitton, The Arkwrights: Spinners the Fortune (Manchester: Manchester university Press, 1989)R Osborne, Iron, heavy steam and Money: The do of the industrial Revolution (London: arbitrarily House, 2013)

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Textiles Gallery


Category: permanent gallery
Wednesday – Sunday 10.00–17.00

Manchester is built on cotton. Ours Textiles Gallery speak the story that the people, products and pioneers the made it and also their continuing legacy in ours city and our people today.


everyday shows Wednesday – Friday

Go back in time to the functioning mills that 150 year ago, experience the deafening sound of the machinery and also find out what life was like for hundreds of mill workers.

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check out our Textile industry collection and discover why Manchester, called 'Cottonopolis', was as soon as the global centre that the noodle industry.


opened times Wednesday – Sunday 10.00–17.00 during term time Monday – Sunday 10.00–17.00 throughout school holidays