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Sunday, 19 January 2014

Edmund Cartwright

Edmund Cartwright (1743-1823)  was born in Marnham in Nottinghamshire  and was educated at Wakefield grammar school and Oxford University. In 1779 he became the rector of the parish of Goadby Marwood in Leicestershire.

He was the brother of Major John Cartwright, a political reformer and radical, and George Cartwright, explorer of Labrador.

During a visit to Cromford in 1784 Cartwright saw Richard Arkwright's cotton-spinning mills. These fascinated him, and he decided to construct a similar machine for weaving. The next year he created  a  rude contrivance, which with further improvements became the power-driven loom which was soon to replace its hand-operated forerunner.

In 1789 Cartwright patented a wool-combing machine. It lowered manufacturing costs, but he made little money from any of his inventions.

In 1790 Robert Grimshaw, of Gorton Manchester, erected a weaving factory at Knott Mill which he was to fill with 500 of Cartwright's power looms, but with only 30 in place, the factory was burnt down probably as an act of arson inspired by the fears of hand loom weavers.

Cartwright also pioneered an engine run on alcohol and notable improvements in rope-making and agricultural implements.

Fifty Lancashire firms sent a special memorandum to the then Prime Minister which resulted in Cartwright being awarded, in 1809, a grant of £10,000. He used the money to purchase a farm in Kent.

Sources Europress Family Encyclopedia 1999, Compton's Interactive Encyclopedia © 1998 The Learning Company, Inc, Wikipedia

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