Author Archives: John Styles

Fibres, Yarns and the Invention of the Spinning Jenny

Open the link below for my paper ‘Fibres, Yarns and the Invention of the Spinning Jenny’, written for the session ‘Popularizing Fabrics and Clothing, 17th to 19th centuries: Materiality, Value Formation and Technology’ at the World Economic History Congress, Boston, USA, … Continue reading

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Spinning little stories about the High Wage Economy.

It’s been fascinating seeing the responses to Judy Stephenson’s post ‘Spinning little stories: Why cotton in the Industrial Revolution was not what you think’ on the Economic History Society’s Long Run blog ( It’s partly about my East Asian Journal … Continue reading

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Robert Allen’s spinning jenny is broken

The late Eric Hobsbawm famously remarked ‘whoever says Industrial Revolution says cotton’. Traditional accounts of the British Industrial Revolution tell the story of an Asian textile – cotton – transformed into a cheap, mass-produced British staple by means of cost-cutting … Continue reading

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Richard Arkwright goes to Germany

I recently visited LVR-Industriemuseum Textilfabrik Cromford, at Ratingen, near Düsseldorf, Germany. The museum is located in the first water-powered cotton spinning mill to be built in continental Europe. It was constructed in 1783-4 by Johann Gottfried Brügelmann, a Wuppertal merchant, to … Continue reading

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Robert and Nathan Hyde pattern book, 1771.

I recently visited Quarry Bank Mill near Wilmslow, Cheshire, one of the early water-powered cotton spinning mills, built on the River Bollin in 1784 to house the mechanical spinning frames invented by Richard Arkwright a decade and a half earlier. … Continue reading

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The silk throwing mill at Caraglio, Italy

This enormous water-powered silk-throwing mill, at Caraglio in Piedmont in north-western Italy, was built in 1676-8. Mills like this were the model for the first successful English factory for manufacturing silk warp yarn [organzine] by water power, built by Thomas … Continue reading

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‘Threads of Feeling’ travels to America

‘Threads of Feeling’, the exhibition of textiles from the London Foundling Hospital curated by John Styles, opened at the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, Va., USA on May 25th, 2013. The exhibition continues there until May 26th, … Continue reading

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