Page images
PDF
EPUB

manufacture of which article this machine is particularly adapted. Nearly the whole therefore of the new machines now building, are either leaver machines to be worked by hand, or circularbolt ones, to work by a rotary motion, adapted either for hand or power.

The lace manufactories of Derbyshire are in number about forty, ard they employ eight hundred persons, besides giving employment to between three and four thousand females, who figure or run the net when it is taken from the loom. Messrs. Boden and Morley, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Wigston and Mr. Ward, work their machines by steam-power. In Derby alone there are one hundred and fifty lace machines, in Chesterfield thirty, in Ilkeston forty, and a few at Duffield, Matlock, Melbourn, &c. and the quantity produced is so immense, that the depression of the business seems to be the necessary consequence of over-production. Four-fourths bobbin-net was sold in 1809, by Messrs. Heathcote and Lacey (the original patentees) for five guineas per yard; and lace, of a superior quality, may now be purchased for 1s. 6d. per yard.

Quillings or narrow edgings of lace (which was first made from the traverse warp-machine) three inches broad, that sold in 1810 for 4s. 6d. per yard, is now selling for 1dd. and improved in quality.

Silk,* it has been noticed, was used as the principal material in hosiery soon after the invention of the stocking-frame, but it was not until the beginning of the eighteenth century that the manufacture of that elegant article by machinery upon an extensive scale was introduced into this country. The Italians had previously possessed the art of throwing silk by means of machinery, and the French excelled in the fabric of piece-goods. Attempts were made in England to rival these productions, but without success. A person named Crocket endeavoured to throw silk at Derby in the year 1702; but his machinery was imperfect, and it was not until 1715, that a young ingenious and enterprising mechanic, whose name was Lombe, resolved to proceed to Italy and investigate personally the whole process. He encountered many dangers, but returned to England in 1717, with plans and drawings, and accompanied by two Italian workmen. He came immediately to Derby, and rented of the corporation a long swampy island in the Derwent for £8. per annum, and there erected the silk Mill, which was long esteemed a masterpiece of mechanical skill. While the mill was building, Mr. Lombe erected temporary machines (turned by hand) in the town hall, and other places, by which he was enabled to pay for the erection of the grand machine, as the work went on. In 1718 he obtained a patent for a term of fourteen years ; but the Italians were enraged at his success, and he fell a victim to their vengeance, in the year 1722; it being supposed that a slow poison, administered to him by an artful woman from that country, occasioned his death at the early age of twenty-nine. One of the Italians who had accompanied Mr. Lombe from Italy, and whose name was Gartrevalli, remained at Derby for some time, and afterwards worked at a silk mill which had been established at Stockport, where he died in poverty.

Mr. John Lombe was succeeded by his brother William, a young man of a melancholy disposition, who committed suicide. The property then became the inheritance of Mr. Thomas Lombe, the cousin of the enterprising founder of it, and was conducted with much spirit and success; for about the year 1730, the works are said to have employed more than three hundred persons. In 1732 the patent expired, and the proprietor petitioned parliament for its renewal, alleging “ that the works had been so long a time in perfecting, and the people in teaching, that there had been none to acquire emolument from the patent.” The application was not successful, but a remune

* It was not till the year 555 that two Greek monks, returning from the Indies to Constantinople, brought with them a number of silk-worms, with instructions for hatching their eggs, rearing and feeding the worms, drawing out the silk, &c. : upon which, manufactories were set up at Athens, Thebes and Corinth. In the 12th century, Roger King of Sicily, established a manufactory at Palermo and another in Calabria, having brought workmen from the cities of Greece, which he had conquered in his expedition to the Holy Land; and by degrees the rest of Italy as well as Spain, learned the art from the Sicilians and Calabrians. In the reign of Henry the Second, the French be. gan to imitate their neighbours with good success; and James the first was very desirous of having mulberry trees planted and silk-worms propagated in his British dominions: where, from various experiments, it appears they will thrive and work as well as in any other part of Europe. Near Tiverton, Mr. Heathcote has planted about thirty acres with mulberry trees, and many millions of worms are now at work there.

1

rating grant of £14,000. was voted to him, and a model of the works was ordered to be deposited in the tower of London. The proprietor was also introduced at court, and had the honour of knighthood conferred upon him. He did not long enjoy this reward of wealth and honour. On the 3rd of January, 1739, he expired, leaving to his widow an accumulated property, valued at little less than £120,000. On the 20th of February, 1739, the lease of the silk mill was assigned from Lady Lombe to Richard Wilson, esq. and the whole of the works were in the following July transferred to that gentleman for the sum of £4000. These premises were occupied for many years by Mr. Swift, who made many important additions to the machinery. The lease expired in 1803; and the mill is now in the occupation of Mr. William Taylor, who has entirely renewed the works, with numerous important improvements. In the year 1826, (March 14) a fire broke out in the upper part of the old mill and did considerable damage.

In this preparatory sketch, we cannot pretend to describe this extraordinary combination of mechanism, except in a very cursory manner. The length of the building is one hundred and ten feet; its breadth thirty-nine feet; and its height fifty-five feet and a half. It contains five stories, besides the under-works, and is lighted by four hundred and sixty-eight windows. The whole of the rooms are filled with machinery constructed on the most modern principle. This elaborate machine (for one only it is) though occupying five apartments, is put in motion by a single water-wheel, twenty-three feet in diameter. All operations are performed here, from winding the raw silk to organizing, or preparing it for the weavers.

Besides this original mill at Derby for the throwing of silk, there are twelve others in the town, and in the other parts of the county, at Glossop, Chesterfield, &c. there are five or six. In this branch of the silk trade, between two and three thousand hands are employed, a great proportion of whom are children and young women.

The
wages

differ with respect to age, sex and capacity from 2s. or 3s. per week to about 20s.

The weaving of piece-goods in silk was first introduced into Derby by Mr. William Taylor, at his factory in Bag-lane, about nine years ago. His example was followed by Messrs. Bridgett and Son, and by Messrs. Ambrose Moore and Co. and now sarcenets, gros-de-naples and other rich silks are manufactured, in a style equal to those made by the weavers of Spitalfields. There are about two hundred and twenty looms in work. The number of hands employed in this branch is about three hundred.

Messrs. James and C. S. Peet introduced the weaving of narrow piece-goods into Derby in 1823: they erected a large factory and fitted it up with looms and machinery, constructed with great ingenuity by Mr. Isaac Peet; to which they applied steam-power for the weaving galloons, doubles, &c. The Messrs. Peet are also considerable manufacturers of silk hose. The other ribbon weavers are Messrs. Smith, Bosley and Smith at Glossop, and Mr. Ralph Frost of Derby. The latter has recently erected a handsome mill on the banks of the Derwent. The hands now employed in this branch of manufacture amount to upwards of four hundred.

The rapid rise of the cotton manufacture in this country is a subject of astonishment to other nations; and has been justly termed one of the greatest triumphs of enterprise aided by mechanical genius. Long after the middle of the last century, the cotton manufacture was in its infancy; it NOW forms the principal support and bulwark of the country, affording an advantageous field for the accumulation and employment of millions upon millions of capital, and of thousands upon thousands of workmen." The manufacture of cotton was probably introduced into England in the early part of the seventeenth century, but down to the comparatively late period of 1773, the weft only was cotton, and the manufacturers were dispersed in cottages throughout the country. They continued to labour under the disadvantage of importing linen-yarn for the warp or longitudinal threads of the fabric, while no additional supplies of cotton-yarn could be procured for weft, but by facilitating the processes of carding and spinning. The desired improvements originated with an illiterate, but most ingenious and inventive mechanic, named James Hargraves,

• Edinburgh Review, for June, 1827. An excellent article upon the British cotton manufacture, to which we are indebted for much of the substance of our brief abstract, respecting this important branch of trade.

of

a carpenter at Blackburn in Lancashire. He adapted the stock cards, used in the woollen manufacture, to the carding of cotton. The carding-machine soon succeeded Hargraves' invention ; and was brought into use by Mr. Peel, the grandfather of the right hon. Sir R. Peel, about the year 1762. Sir Richard Arkwright added some improvements to the carding-engine, but spinning by hand still continued to be an operation too tedious to fulfil the expectations of enterprising men, and in 1767, Hargraves constructed a machine called a spinning-jenny, which enabled a spinner to spin eight threads with the same facility that one had previously been spun; and the machine was subsequently brought to such perfection as to enable a little girl to work no fewer than from eighty to one hundred and twenty spindles. Hargraves thus opened the way to those splendid inventions and discoveries that have created and sustained a vast current of public and individual wealth, beyond any thing recorded in the history of the world; but to himself, his inventions were productive of bankruptcy and ruin, and, to the indelible disgrace of his age and country, he was suffered to end his days, even after the merit of his inventions had been universally acknowledged, in the workhouse at Nottingham.

Still the jenny was applicable only to the spinning of cotton for weft, being unable to give to the yarn that degree of firmness and hardness which is required in the longitudinal threads or warp. This deficiency was supplied by the invention of the spinning frame, constructed by Sir Richard Arkwright. That extraordinary individual was born at Preston in Lancashire, in 1732. He was the youngest of thirteen children and was bred to the trade of a barber. In very early life he turned his attention to mechanism ; but he followed his original trade until he was thirty-five years

age, at Bolton-le-Moors in Lancashire. About that period he became an itinerant hair. dealer, and formed an acquaintance with a clock-maker at Warrington of the name of Kay, to whom he seems to have imparted his ideas, and in conjunction with whom he put together the first machine for spinning by means of rollers. It was some time before this ingenious man could procure the aid of capital. He applied in vain to a Mr. Atherton of Liverpool, but at length the celebrated Jedediah Strutt of Derby, who, by the invention of the Derby rib, was acquiring a fortune in the stocking manufacture, having seen Arkwright's inventions, entered into partnership with him. In 1769, the first mill, upon Arkwright's principle, was erected at Nottingham. This was driven by horses. A patent for spinning by rollers was obtained, and in 1771, a second factory, on a much larger scale, was built at Cromford in this county ; the machinery of which was turned by a water-wheel. Additional discoveries and improvements were made, and a fresh patent for the whole was taken out in 1775. The success which attended this invention excited the emulation of the Lancashire manufacturers, and in 1772 they attempted to set the first patent aside, on the ground that Sir Richard Arkwright was not the original inventor. This allegation was unsupported by evidence, and the action at law terminated in a verdict which confirmed the validity of the patent. - In 1781, Sir Richard Arkwright's second patent, obtained in 1775 was attacked, and a verdict was obtained against him, not on the ground of any prior invention, but because he had not given a sufficiently distinct description of the machinery in the specification. On another trial in 1785, a verdict was given in favour of Sir Richard Arkwright; but a third action followed in June of the same year, in which the patent was contested on the ground of a prior invention, as well as that of imperfect specification. In support of the former, a reedmaker, of Bolton, named Highs or Hayes, was, for the first time, brought forward, who asserted that he had invented a machine for spinning by rollers previously to 1768, and that he had employed Kay, the watchmaker at Warrington, to make a model of the machine. Kay was brought forward to prove that he had communicated that model to Arkwright. A verdict was given against the patent, and the court, at the latter end of the sar year, refused to grant a new trial. There is, however, great improbability in the story told by Highs and Kay; and it is difficult to suppose that if Highs was in reality the inventor, he would not have come forward on the first trial in 1772, but have remained sixteen years, a passive spectator of such astonishing success, accomplished by means of which he pretended to be the originator. The most intimate friends of Sir Richard Arkwright, and those best acquainted with his character, never entertained the slightest doubt with respect to the originality of the invention.

On the first introduction of the machines, upon Sir Richard Arkwright's principle, the factories containing them were subjected to the reiterated attacks of the labouring classes ; and what was still more extraordinary, the manufacturers themselves displayed the greatest animosity towards these inventions, and unanimousiy refused to purchase the yarn made by them. In 1774, when Messrs. Strutt and Needham had established a manufacture of calicoes, the manufacturers of Lancashire opposed, without success, the encouragement intended by the legislature on these “fabrics made of cotton lately introduced,” which the act pronounced to be a “lawful and laudable manufacture.”—Yet, notwithstanding an opposition, in which litigation and mob-violence were frequently allied, Sir Richard Arkwright acquired a princely fortune ; and on presenting an address to George III. in the year 1786, when he served the office of sheriff for Derbyshire, the honour of knighthood was conferred upon him. He had never enjoyed good health, and on the third of August, in the year 1792, he closed his truly useful life at Cromford, in the sixtieth year of

his age.

The mule-jenny, so called from its being a compound of the jenny and the spinning frame, was invented by Mr. Samuel Crompton, of Bolton-le-Moors, in 1775. All sorts of wefts are now spun by this machine. The inventor of this machine perfected it gradually, and took out no patent to secure him a reward for his labour. In 1812, he applied to parliament for a remuneration, and it was shown that upwards of four millions of spindles on his principle were used in buildings and machinery, valued at from three to four millions sterling. Parliament voted him the very inadequate sum of £5,000.--In 1792, Mr. William Kelly of Glasgow, discovered a mode of working the mule, which had previously been a hand-machine, by mechanical power.

The power-loom, for the weaving of cotton, was the invention of the Rev. Mr. Cartwright, a clergyman of Kent, who took out a patent for his invention in 1787; and the progress of powerloom weaving was greatly aided by a beautiful machine for dressing the yarn used as warps, which is now called Ratcliffe's dressing machine, but was invented by Mr. Thomas Johnson of Bradbury. There are now upwards of 50,000 power-looms in Great Britain. At the accession of George III. in 1760, the entire value of all the cotton goods, manufactured in Great Britain, was estimated to amount to £200,000. a year, and the number of persons employed was quite inconsiderable. But after the invention of the jenny and the spinning frame, the quantity of cotton imported, the value of goods manufactured, and the number of persons employed, increased in a geometrical proportion. The imports from 1771 to 1775, amounted on an average to 4,764,589 lbs. and from that period to the dissolution of Sir Richard Arkwright's second patent in 1785, the annual average imports had increased to 7,470,845 lbs. In 1824, the late Mr. Huskisson, stated to the House of Commons, that the total value of the cotton goods annually manufactured in Great Britain amounted to the prodigious sum of 314 millions; and we shall certainly not exceed the truth, if we estimate their present value at 40 millions.

We shall not attempt to trace the cotton manufacture of Derbyshire, earlier than the erection of the mill at Cromford, by Sir Richard Arkwright, in 1771. There are now two mills at Cromford, a third at Masson, and a fourth at Bakewell, which was also built by Sir Richard Arkwright. In these are employed about one thousand persons, of which four-fifths are women and children. At Belper are the cotton mills of the Messrs. Strutt. There were formerly three mills upon the Derwent at this place, the first of which was erected by Mr. Jedediah Strutt, in the year 1776. Two of these are now standing, but the third was destroyed by fire in 1803. The principal of these mills is two hundred feet long, thirty feet wide and six stories high. At these mills about fifteen hundred persons are constantly employed. There are also three cotton mills at Millford, belonging to the same proprietors, where about five hundred persons are employed in the manufacture of cotton-thread. The Messrs. Evans employ between five and six hundred persons at Darley Abbey, near Derby. There are in the whole county at present about one hundred and twelve mills for the same manufacture, employing, in the whole, not less than twenty thousand persons.

The parish of Glossop, situate amidst the most mountainous tracts of the High Peak, has become, within little more than forty years, one of the most important seats of manufacture within Derbyshire. Of the hundred and twelve cotton mills existing at present in this county, there are fifty-six in Glossop parish, without reckoning five other similar mills, upon or beyond the boundary brooks. In the hamlets connected with this parish, an immense number of manufactures and rising trades of various descriptions are scattered. Calico-weaving is carried on in eleven of these hamlets, and calico-printing in four. In seven of these places, where in the year 1780 there were only a few hovels and here or there a farm-stead, there are now establishments for woollen cloth spinning, weaving and dressing; and throughout these hamlets, there are numerous factories for muslin, cambric, and fustian weaving; for bleaching and dyeing; for hatmaking, paper-making and tanning; besides smithies, and iron-works of every description. In the last quarter of the last century there was but one mill in the whole of this district, and that was employed in grinding the scanty crop of oats into meal for the food of a few agricultural inhabitants. The late Samuel Oldknow, esq. was one of the earliest manufacturing settlers in this vicinity. He found a powerful stream coursing its way through a deep dell, and instantly perceived the advantages to be derived from it

. He established himself near Mellor ; and his example and success in business soon procured him many neighbours, until the banks of the Goyte and the Etherow became the busy scenes of industrious, enterprising and ingenious men.

The first mill built by Mr. Oldknow was upon the Arkwright principle, and he improved the fineness of the threads. Having accomplished this object in the spinning, he applied it to the weaving of British muslins, and constructed mills for that purpose, which he executed by the power.loom. Mr. Oldknow was ever active in public pursuits, and the Peak Forest canal originated chiefly with him. Towards the close of his useful existence he occupied himself much in agricultural pursuits, and at his lamented death, which happened in September 1828, he left the valley of Glossop improved in its agricultural produce, as well as enriched by manufacture ; and it may be also said, that what he found a desert, he left, comparatively, a city and a garden.The principal manufacturers now resident in that district will be seen by reference to the Directory. Mr. J. Wood, and Messrs. J. and W. Sidebottom are considered as the most eminent power-loom manufacturers; which looms they employ in the fabric of calicoes and muslins. Calico printing is here carried on extensively: it is performed with cylindrical copper rollers, on which the figures are engraved. The process of this mode of printing is so rapid, that pieces of twenty-eight yards are thrown off from each set of rollers in less than two minutes. This art was greatly improved, if not invented, by Mr. John Potts, of the house of Potts, Oliver and Potts, of New Mills. This gentleman was an artist himself, and having studied the different shades of colour produced upon the blue-ware in the potteries, he was enabled to bring the art of calicoprinting to a perfection of which previously it had not been supposed to be capable.

In a county which is rising so rapidly in manufacturing interest, the business of bleaching and that of dyeing become necessarily important. It appears indeed that Derbyshire was distinguished in very early times for its fullers and bleachers. There are bleaching-houses and grounds in about eighteen towns and villages. We have already mentioned those at Millford and Glossop. One of the most eminent in the county is that of Mr. John Garton, at Lumsdale, near Matlock. Grass-bleaching is carried on by Messrs. Hewitt, Longson and Co. at New Brampton, and by Mr. Radford, at Higham.

Of the other branches of industry in which the inhabitants of Derbyshire are chiefly employed, we must not omit mention of tape, ferrets and small-wares. Manufactories of this nature were introduced in the town of Derby, about a quarter of a century ago, by Riley, Madeley, Hackett and Co. and the manufacture of tape is now carried on by different firms, which have all originated in the Haarlaem works, in Derby. There are nine mills in the county, at which about nine hundred persons are employed.

The clock and watch maunfactories of Derby employ about sixty persons. Messrs. Whitehurst and Son, who conduct an extensive business in this line, are decendants of the celebrated geologist, natural philosopher and able mechanist, Mr. John Whitehurst, F. R. S. That eminent man settled at Derby about the year 1740, where he made the clock and chimes of All Saints church, and the clock of the town hall; on which account the corporation presented to him the freedom

« PreviousContinue »