Belward Street - Hockley
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Viewed from Belward Street. The factory on the right is at the junction with Goose Gate. Between the ivy-covered factory and the building to the left of it runs Woolpack Lane. This building played an important roll in the progression of the Industrial Revolution. It could be called Richard Arkwright's first 'factory'. Richard Arkwright, a pioneer of the factory system, was born in 1732 in Preston, son of a barber. As a young man Arkwright worked as a barber and wig maker, and travelled around the country selling his wigs. His travels brought him into contact with people working in the cotton trade and having had some education and being ambitious, he realised that there was a fortune to be made from designing an efficient spinning machine. In 1768, Arkwright and a clockmaker from Warrington, called John Kay, looked at ways of producing a working model and perfected a roller spinning machine which came to be known as the spinning frame and later the water frame. Before mechanisation, spinning had always been done in houses and small workshops, where a spinning wheel was worked by hand or foot. This was a slow process and not enough yarn could be produced to keep pace with the knitters and weavers who turned the yarn into cloth and garments. James Hargreave's spinning Jenny was invented about 1764 and it has speeded up the production of yarn but it was difficult to operate and required skilled labour. The advantage of Arkwrights machine was that it could be operated by young people with very little learning (The sad graves of his child labourers can be seen at Papplewick, where he operated very small, water driven mills). Thus with the development of the water frame, factory production became possible. Requiring finance to patent the machine, Arkwright found 2 partners in John Smalley and David Thornley. A patent was obtained in 1769 and with 2 more partners, Jedediah Strutt and Samuel Need, they set up a horse powered mill at the bottom of Woolpack Lane in Nottingham. It is this building which can be seen here. Horse power, however, proved expensive as well as unfeasible for large scale production. Arkwright was resolved to use water power and in 1771 began to build a water powered mill at Cromford in Derbyshire, and it is his Cromford Mill rather than his Nottingham Mill which is generally accepted today as the first 'factory'. See NTGM004079 for similar view taken in 1982 which shows the restored 'The Mill' Pub (bottom right of the picture).