An English Inventor and a paramount entrepreneur during the initial periods of the Industrial Revolution, Sir Richard Arkwright is the man credited with creating the modern factory system.
His life started almost 3 centuries ago, but what he created laid the foundations of what we live on today. Let’s get to know the journey of an English home-taught boy who grew up to be the leading inventor.
Richard Arkwright was born on 23rd December 1732. His father, Thomas Arkwright was a tailor. The family was based in Preston, Lancashire, England. Richard was the youngest of the surviving seven children. The family couldn’t afford to send him to school. Hence, they arranged a cousin of his to home-tutor him.
A Humble Beginning
Richard apprenticed to a barber, Mr. Nicholson. He set up his shop at Churchgate in Bolton in the early 1750s. Here, he started working as a barber and a wig-maker.
It was in this humble beginning, that the future knight created his first invention. It was a waterproof dye to be used on the fashionable periwigs of the time. The income from here later funded his prototype cotton machinery.
Richard’s interest developed in spinning and carding machinery. These types of machinery turned raw cotton into thread. In 1768, Arkwright along with a clockmaker, John Kay returned to Preston. They worked for a year to develop a spinning machine.
In 1769, Arkwright patented the spinning frame, which later became known as the ‘water-frame’. This machine produced a strong twist for warps and thus, substituted wooden and metal cylinders for human fingers in cotton spinning. The machine made inexpensive cotton-spinning possible.
The Carding Engine
After this, there was no looking back. The next thing he worked on was improving Lewis Paul’s Carding machine. In 1775, he took out a patent for a new carding engine. This new engine converted raw cotton buds into a continuous skein of cotton fibers, which could then be spun into yarns.
Arkwright’s brilliance and inventory skills were soon recognized. He started factories and mills. He created World’s first water-powered mill at Cromford, where he employed more than 200 people.
This was just the beginning of the many factories which he would later set up. Because of this, Arkwright was known as the “father of the modern industrial factory system”. In 1786, the British Kingdom knighted Sir Richard Arkwright for huge contributions to the Industrial Revolution.