Sir Richard Arkwright • Preston Guild City
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Preston Guild City

Sir Richard Arkwright

Sir Richard Arkwright, Preston inventor.

The father of the modern industrial factory system...

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 was a leading entrepreneur during the period.

Born to a tailor and Preston Guild burgess in 1732, Richard was the youngest of 13 children, 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 he 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 and his success further improved by a system in which labour was reduced.

His new method greatly improved efficiency whilst also increasing profits. 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.