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ADVANCEMENT OF MACHINERY.
“Art thrives most,
POWER LOOM AND DRESSER.
In 1785 the Rev. Dr. Cartwright" of Hollander house, (brother of Major Cartwright, the well-known advocate of radical reform,) invented a power-loom, which may be regarded as the parent of that now in use. Dr. Cartwright was led by his invention to
* Edmund Cartwright was born in 1743, in Nottinghamshire, at Marnham, an estate which had long been in possession of his family. He was the youngest of three brothers, all of whom were remarkable men. His second brother, Captain William Cartwright, a man of great enterprise and energy of character, after a residence of sixteen years on the coast of Labrador, returned to England in 1792, and published his journal, which gave the first authentic account of the Esquimaux nations. His elder brother, Major John Cartwright, was forty years distinguished as an enthusiastic and persevering advocate for what is called parliamentary reform ; and notwithstanding the many turbulent scenes in which he appeared in public, in domestic life he was exemplary as an amiable, affectionate and benevolent . man; as a political leader he was truly consistent, and even his enemies have borne testimony to his being perfectly disinterested. Edmund, the younger brother, being destined for the church, was placed under Mr. Clarke of Wakefield, and the celebrated Dr. Langhorne. He afterwards studied at Oxford, where he was early distinguished for his literary attainments, and was elected fellow of Magdalen College. On entering the church, he retired to a small living in the gift of his family, where he discovered the application of yeast as a remedy in putrid fevers, and became known as a poet. His legendary tale of “Armine and Elvira,” was greatly admired for its pathos and elegant simplicity. His “Prince of Peace,” in a loftier style of composition, also excited much attention at its appearance. He married in 1772, and afterwards went to reside at Doncaster, but still assiduously continued his literary labours. Between 1774 and 1784, he was one of the principal contributors to the Monthly Review.
The origin of his invention of weaving by machinery instead of manual
undertake manufacturing with power-looms at Doncaster; but the concern was unsuccessful, and he at length abandoned it. Though he had a handsome paternal fortune, his affairs became
labour has been minutely detailed by himself, in a letter written to Mr. Dugald Bannatyne, of Glasgow. “Happening to be at Matlock in the summer of 1784, I fell in company with some gentlemen of Manchester, when the conversation turned on Arkwright's spinning machinery. One of the company observed, that as soon as Arkwright's patent expired, so many mills would be erected, and so much cotton spun, that hands never could be found to weave it. To this observation I replied, that Arkwright must then set his wits to work to invent a weaving machine. This brought on a conversation on the subject, in which the Manchester gentlemen unanimously agreed, that the thing was impracticable ; and in defence of their opinion they adduced arguments which I certainly was incompetent to answer, or even to comprehend, being totally ignorant of the subject, having never, at that time, seen a person weave. I controverted, however, the impracticability of the thing by remarking, that there had lately been exhibited in London an automaton figure which played at chess; ‘now you will not assert, gentlemen,” said I, ‘that it is more difficult to construct a machine that shall weave, than one which shall make all the variety of moves which are required in that complicated game 7” Some little time afterwards a particular circumstance recalling this conversation to my mind, it struck me that, as in plain weaving, according to the conception I then had of the business, there could be only three movements, which were to follow each other in succession, there would be little difficulty in producing and repeating them. Full of these ideas, I immediately employed a carpenter and smith to carry them into effect. As soon as the machine was finished I got a weaver to put in the warp, which was of such materials as sail cloth is usually made of. To my great delight, a piece of cloth, such as it was, was the produce. As I had never before turned my thoughts to any thing mechanical, either in theory or practice, nor had ever seen a loom at work or knew any thing of its construction, it will readily be supposed that my first loom must have been a most rude piece of machinery. The warp was placed perpendicularly, the reed fell with a force of at least half a hundred weight, and the springs which threw the shuttle were strong enough to have thrown a Congreve rocket; in short it required the power of two strong men to work the machine at a slow rate only for a short time. Conceiving, in my great simplicity, that I had accomplished all that was required, I then secured what I thought a most valuable property, by a patent, in April 1785. This being done, I then condescended to see how other people wove, and you will guess my astonishment when I compared their easy modes of operation with mine. Availing myself, however, of what I then saw, I made a loom, in its general principles, nearly as they are now made, but it was not until the year 1787 that I completed my invention, when I took out my last weaving patent in August in that year.”—This also included the art of weaving checks, which the most skilful mechanics, even after they had seen his first machines in operation, deemed to be impossible by any except manual
inextricably embarrassed; but he was more fortunate than most inventors, in obtaining from parliament, in 1809, a grant of # 10,000, as a reward for his ingenuity. The great obstacle to the success of the power-loom, was, that it was necessary to stop the machine frequently, in order to dress the warp as it unrolled from the beam, which operation required a man to be employed for each loom, so that there was no saving of expense. This difficulty was happily removed, by the invention of an extremely ingenious and effectual mode of dressing the warp before it was placed in the loom. The dressing-machine was produced by Messrs. Radcliffe & Ross, cotton manufacturers, of Stockport; but they took out the patent in the name of Thomas Johnson, of Bredbury, a weaver in their employment, to whose inventive talent the machine was chiefly owing. Wm. Radcliffe justly thought, that the most effectual way of securing for the country the manufacturing of the yarn, was to enable the English to excel as much in weaving as they did in spinning. He saw the obstacles to the accomplishment of this object, but being a man of determined purpose, he shut himself up in his mill, on the 2d of January, 1802, with a number of weavers, joiners, turners, and other workmen, and resolved to produce some great improvement. Two years were spent in experiments. He had for his assistant, Thomas Johnson, an ingenious but dissipated young man, to whom he explained what he wanted, and whose fertile invention suggested a great variety of expedients, so that he obtained the name of the “conjuror” among his fellow-workmen. Johnson's genius, and Radcliffe's judgement and perseverance, at length produced the dressing machine; an admirable invention, without which the powerloom could scarcely have been rendered efficient. The process is thus briefly described:—“The yarn is first wound from the top upon bobbins, by a winding machine, in which operation it is passed through water, to increase its tenacity.
means. The weaving factory which was erected at Doncaster by some of Cartwright's friends, with his license, was unsuccessful; and another establishment containing five hundred looms, built at Manchester, was destroyed by an exasperated mob, in 1790. The invention, however, has surmounted all opposition, and at the time of the doctor's death it was stated that steam looms had increased so rapidly, that they were then performing the labour of two hundred thousand men . Cartwright's next invention was a method to comb wool with machinery, which excited, if possible, a still greater ferment among the working classes than even the power loom.
The bobbins are then put upon the warping-mill, and the web warped from them upon a beam belonging to the dressing-frame. From this beam, placed now in the dressing-frame, the warp is wound upon the weaving-beam, but in its progress to it passes through a hot dressing of starch. It is then compressed between two rollers, to free it from the moisture it had imbibed with the dressing, and drawn over a succession of tin cylinders heated by steam, to dry it; during the whole of this last part of its progress being lightly brushed as it moves along, and fanned by rapidly revolving fanners. The dressing here spoken of is merely a size or paste made of flour and water, now generally used cold; and the use of it is to make the minute fibres, which, as it were, feather the yarn, adhere closely to it, so that the warp may be smooth like catgut. The brushes essentially aid in smoothing the yarn, and distributing the size equally over it; and by means of the fan and the heated cylinders the warp is so soon dried, that it is wound upon the beam for the loom within a very short space after passing through the trough of paste. This machine, from the regularity and neatness of its motions, and its perfect efficacy, is equally beautiful and valuable.” Radcliffe and his partner took out four patents in the years 1803 and 1804; two of them for a useful improvement in the loom, the taking up of the cloth by the motion of the lathe; and the other two for the new mode of warping and dressing. Johnson, in whose name they were taken out, received by deed the sum of £50 in consideration of his services, and continued in their employment. Radcliffe's unremitting devotion to the perfecting of this apparatus, and other unfortunate circumstances, caused the affairs of his concern to fall into derangement, and he failed. He wrote a book entitled, “Origin of the New System of Manufacture, commonly called Power-Loom Weaving,” showing the purposes for which this system was invented. Baines says, “The dressing machine itself has now in some establishments been superseded, and the warp is dressed in a shorter and simpler way by an improved sizing apparatus. By the aid of Johnson and Radcliffe's invention, the power-loom became available. A patent for another power-looom was taken out in 1803, by Mr. H. Horrocks, cotton manufacturer, of Stockport, which he further improved, and took out subsequent patents in 1805 and 1813. Horrocks' loom is the one which has now come into general use; it is constructed entirely of iron, and is a neat, compact, and simple machine, moving with great rapidity, and occupying so little space that several hundreds may be worked in a single room of a large factory. Horrocks, sharing the common destiny of inventors, failed and sunk into poverty. This retarded the adoption of the machine; but independently of this, the power-loom and dressing machine came very slowly into favour. In 1813, there were not more than one hundred of the latter machines in England and Scotland, and 2400 of the former in use. The introduction of the power loom and dresser formed a new era in the cotton business in America. Previous to 1815, the whole of the weaving was done by hand looms; in many of these looms great improvements had been made and a great quantity of cloth produced for home consumption. About the year 1814, Mr. Gilmore landed in Boston from England with patterns of the power loom and dresser; and John Slater, Esq. invited him to Smithfield, Rhode Island, and made known his wishes to construct these important inventions; but Mr. Slater could not prevail on the whole of his partners to engage him in the trial. He remained at Smithfield some time, employed as a machinist by that establishment. He introduced the hydrostatic press, and it proved of great advantage in pressing cloth, &c. Judge Lyman of Providence had been endeavouring to obstruct the power-loom, but failed in the attempt; and on hearing of Mr. Gilmore, he with some other gentlemen entered into a contract with him to build the power-loom and dresser, from the patterns which he brought with him from England. He accomplished all that he promised, and received a compensation of $1500, to the great satisfaction of his patrons. They were soon introduced into Pawtucket, and David Wilkinson made them as an article of sale. Mr. Gilmore, however, neglected to turn his talents and opportunities to the advantage of his family, and died leaving them poor in this country. S. Green informed me, that Gilmore was a man of great mechanical genius; he brought the first engineer's rule into Rhode Island, and Mr. Green obtained one from him, with a great deal of valuable information. The hand-looms were immediately superseded, and now no one in the manufacturing districts thinks of using them any more than they do the one-thread wheel. Their introduction has enabled America to compete even with Great Britain in cotton cloths in South America and other foreign markets. This is the crowning sequel in improvements in the cotton machinery, the addition of which has made a complete series, perhaps the most perfect which the world ever saw, whether with