Richard Arkwright was a significant figure in the timeframe of the Industrial Revolution and is remembered today as a noted inventor and entrepreneur. For example, he invented the water frame, which had a profound impact on production in England and around the world during the time of the Industrial Revolution. For example, Richard Arkwright’s water frame transformed the textile industry by speeding up production.
Richard Arkwright was born on December 23rd, 1732 in Lancashire, England. He was the youngest child of Sarah and Thomas who were poor, manual-labor workers. Arkwright did not go to school because his parents could not afford the expense, but he was taught to read and write by his cousin. As a young man, Arkwright apprenticed as a barber, and set up his own shop in the 1750s. While working at his shop he invented a dye that could be used on the periwigs, which were the famous hair pieces that were fashionably worn at the time. He made a sizeable profit from his dye, and he used that money to develop other inventions. In fact, he would go on to be one of the most significant inventors of the Industrial Revolution and had a profound impact on textile manufacturing.
In 1755, Arkwright married his first wife, Patience Holt. They had a child together, but soon after the birth, Patience died. Arkwright remarried Margaret Biggins in 1761. It was during his second marriage that Arkwright realized his passion for inventing and entrepreneurship. He soon developed a spinning machine, called a water frame, that was capable of producing strong yarn. The machine replaced the need for manual labour and enabled the production of inexpensive spun cotton by using the moving force of a creek or river that spun a shaft. The machine was important at the time because cotton was used for clothing and other everyday items. At first, the machine was referred to as a ‘spinning frame’ but in later years, it was known as a water-frame. In fact, the water frame was a major advancement over previous types of machinery including James Hargreaves' spinning jenny. This was because the water frame essentially mechanized all of the process of spinning the yarn and required very little human labor.
Arkwright moved to Nottingham where he formed a partnership with two local businesses. With the men, he built mills to process cotton and other products. The mills required a lot of workers, which the town could not provide. In order to ensure that the mills had enough employees, Arkwright built pubs to attract people, and imported workers from outside the area. Arkwright managed other mills, most notably the Birkacre Mill at Chorley. This mill was important to the growth of the town, which later played an important part in the Industrial Revolution. Arkwright developed a disciplined factory system in Chorely, and it was replicated in other factories across England. In fact, Arkwright struggled to maintain the copyright of his invention, as other people across England copied it and used it in their own factories.
Despite this, Richard Arkwright was famous and wealthy in his own life for his inventions and businesses. For instance, he was formally knighted in 1786 for his accomplishments. This means that he was given a title by the British monarch for his service to his country. His innovations had fundamentally altered England in the time of the Industrial Revolution and made him a rich man. For instance, when he died on August 3rd, 1792, his estate was worth more than £500,000. Today he is celebrated as one of the most significant figures of the entire Industrial Revolution.