Samuel Oldknow and the Arkwrights: The Industrial Revolution at Stockport and Marple

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The University Press, 1924 - Cotton growing and manufacture - 259 pages
This is the story of the Industrial Revolution told from the perspective of Samuel Oldknow one of Britain's most successful entrepreneurs. A fortuitous discovery in the ruins of a cotton mill in 1921 brought to light a mass of letters and account books, deep in dirt and soiled with rain. It is from this material that Unwin produced his now classic account of the Lancashire cotton industry, perhaps as close as one can get to a barometer of the wider economic transformation that rendered Britain the industrial powerhouse of the world.This New Edition has been typeset with modern techniques and contains a newly compiled Index of important topics. It has been painstakingly proofread to ensure that it is free from errors and that the content is faithful to the original.

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Page 111 - Cottage rents at that time, with convenient loomshop and a small garden attached, were from one and a half to two guineas per annum. The father of a family would earn from eight shillings to half a guinea at his loom, and his sons, if he had one, two, or three alongside of him, six or eight shillings each per week ; but the great sheet anchor of all cottages and small farms was the labour attached to the hand-wheel...
Page 111 - I have mentioned, sufficient for the consumption of one weaver, this shows clearly the inexhaustible source there was for labour for every person, from the age of seven to eighty years (who retained their sight and could move their hands,) to earn their bread, say one to three shillings per week, without going to the parish.
Page 126 - Three hundred a year,' was my reply. 'What?', Mr Drinkwater said, with some surprise, repeating the words, 'three hundred a year! I have had this morning I know not how many seeking the situation, and I do not think that all their askings together would amount to what you require.' 'I cannot be governed by what others ask,' said I, 'and I cannot take less. I am now making that sum by my own business.
Page 98 - The warp was placed perpendicularly, the reed fell with the weight of at least half a hundredweight, and the springs which threw the shuttle were strong enough to have thrown a congreve rocket.1 In short, it required the strength of two powerful men to work the machine at a slow rate, and only for a short time.
Page 127 - But at the end of that time I felt myself so much master of my position, as to be ready to give directions in every department.
Page 116 - ... the age of 24, in 1785), with my little savings, and a practical knowledge of every process from the cotton-bag to the piece of cloth, such as carding by hand or by the engine, spinning by the hand-wheel or jenny, winding, warping, sizing, looming the web, and weaving either by hand or fly-shuttle, I was ready to commence business for myself ; and by the year 1789, I was well established, and employed many hands both in spinning and weaving, as a master manufacturer.
Page 112 - ... being insufficient, every lumber-room, even old barns, cart.houses, and out-buildings of any description, were repaired, windows broke through the old blank walls, and all fitted up for loom-shops. This source of making room being at length exhausted, new weavers' cottages, with loom-shops, rose up in every direction ; all immediately filled, and, when in full work, the weekly circulation of money, as the price of labour only, rose to five times the amount ever before experienced in this...
Page 180 - The Presbyterian Tradesmen receive them in Payment for Goods, by which Intercourse they have frequent Opportunities to corrupt the Principles of that Description of Men, by infusing into their minds the pernicious Tenets of Paine's Rights of Man...
Page 127 - Drinkwater did not come with me to introduce me to any of the people, — and thus, uninstructed, I had to take the management of the concern. I had to purchase the raw material, — to make the machines, for the mill was not nearly filled with machinery, — to manufacture the cotton into yarn, — to sell it, — and to keep the accounts, — pay the wages, — and, in fact, to take the whole responsibility of the first fine cotton spinning establishment by machinery that had ever been erected...
Page 161 - The fabrics made from wool or linen vanished, while the old loom-shops being insufficient, every lumber-room, even old barns, cart-houses, and out-buildings of any description, were repaired, windows broke through the old blank walls, and all fitted up for loom-shops. This source of making room being at length exhausted, new weavers...

About the author (1924)

George Unwin held the chair of economic history at Manchester from 1910 until his death in 1925. He contributed like no other scholar in the establishment of economic history as a serious line of inquiry in Britain, transplanting there the finest aspects of the by then mature continental European tradition. His work is set apart by the thoroughness of his primary research, his methodological rigor and clarity of prose. Many believe him to be among the most penetrating and philosophical minds ever to be attracted to economic history.

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