Richard Arkwright’s Water Frame
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Richard Arkwright’s Water Frame

September 10, 2019


It began with water powered machines.
for centuries people had used the turning force of the water wheels to
help the tough jobs like driving blades for sawing wood and rotating stones for
grinding grain into flour, but eventually waterwheels began to
power more complicated devices that would revolutionize cloth making, like
this carding machine. What an improvement over the pet brushes, and by rolling out wispy slivers all day
long, it was a great labor saving device. But
this was even better: I’m standing next to a machine called a water frame. It
was created by the famous English inventor Richard Arkwright – this model is
from the 1780s – to spin cotton into yarn. It looks fairly complex, but it really
isn’t. It runs on water power just like the
carding machine and saw blades we saw earlier. The cotton in the top spools is
drawn out by the action of the machine, which twists it nice and tight and then
gathers the yarn onto these bottom spools. It works just like a hand
spinning wheel, 96 of them actually, so it’s little wonder that spinning by
machine would eventually make spinning by hand obsolete. In no time, spinning mills
began springing up all over England.

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