Preston Guild City • Sir Richard Arkwright
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Preston Guild City

Sir Richard Arkwright

Sir Richard Arkwright, Preston inventor

If you think about the Industrial Revolution then it is very likely that the name Richard Arkwright will spring to mind, this Preston born inventor and self made man being considered the father of the modern industrial factory system.

Born in 1732 Richard was the youngest of 13 children. Born to a tailor and Preston Guild burgess he was taught by a cousin to read and write.

After a spell as a barber, he became an entrepreneur after the death of his first wife. By the time he was 43 had patented his own carding machine to help with the manufacture of cotton, with assistance from Lancashire clockmaker John Kay.

His work on a mechanical spinning machine led to improvements that produced a stronger cotton yarn, requiring less physical labour. At the same time, he developed mills where the whole process of yarn manufacture was completed on one machine, his success further improved by a system in which labour was reduced.

His new method greatly improved efficiency while increasing profits too. With Richard now wealthy and revered for his pioneering work, much of his personal fortune was derived from licensing his inventions.

He was knighted in 1786, by then a large employer, having established factories in Lancashire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Scotland. Sir Richard died in 1792.

To see the house where Richard Arkwright lived whilst developing his cotton spinning machine see the Blue Plaque Heritage Walk.

Image: Portrait of Sir Richard Arkwright (c) Harris Museum & Art Gallery