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MAKING THE MODERN WORLD
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story:Rise of the factory system

scene:Rise of the factory system


Jedediah Strutt’s ‘North Mill at Belper, Derbyshire’. From Rees’ Cyclopedia, 1819. picture zoom © Science Museum/Science and Society Picture Library

The earliest and greatest transformations of the Industrial Revolution took place in the woollen and cotton textiles industries. New technologies, new working methods, new trade networks and even new fashion trends created an industry whose practices were adopted throughout the economy.


Typical Victorian mill, c. 1863. Illustration taken from Treatise on Mills and Millwork - part two (1863) by Sir W. Fairbairn. picture zoom © Science Museum/Science and Society Picture Library

Richard Arkwright, a wigmaker from Preston, was a key figure in this amazing transformation. Arguably, he kick-started the factory system of manufacturing that was to last well into the twentieth century.


The Swainson & Birley Mill at Preston, Lancashire, 1834. picture zoom © Science Museum/Science and Society Picture Library

Here, we look at the techniques that Arkwright developed, how they drew on a rich pattern of invention and innovation and the impact of such developments on industry and society.

Resource Descriptions

Jedediah Strutt’s ‘North Mill at Belper, Derbyshire’. From Rees’ Cyclopedia, 1819.
Typical Victorian mill, c. 1863. Illustration taken from Treatise on Mills and Millwork - part two (1863) by Sir W. Fairbairn.
The Swainson & Birley Mill at Preston, Lancashire, 1834.
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