Category Archives: Spinning Project

Robert Allen’s spinning jenny is still broken.

In ‘Spinning their wheels: a reply to Jane Humphries and Benjamin Schneider’, published in Economic History Review online early view in May 2019, Robert Allen once again defends his High Wage Economy explanation of the industrial revolution in textiles. Specifically, … Continue reading

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Fibres, Yarns and the Invention of the Spinning Jenny

Open the link below for John Styles’ 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, … 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 (https://ehsthelongrun.net/2016/12/01/spinning-little-stories-why-cotton-in-the-industrial-revolution-was-not-what-you-think/). 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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Flax dressing in Pennsylvania

Thanks to Christian and Johannes Zinzendorf (and Linda Eaton who arranged it and drove me!) I finally achieved a two year ambition, to turn flax stems into fibre. Christian and Johannes have been growing and processing flax since the 1980s, … 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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Experimental archaeology – growing flax

After testing out my practical skills on the intensive textile course at the TRC, Leiden,  I bought flax seeds to try some experimental archaeology. I grew flax successfully last year, with the basic aim of getting a better understanding of … Continue reading

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Learning to Spin

In May 2012 John and I visited the excellent Textile Research Centre (TRC) in Leiden, Holland to take the Intensive Textile Course with six other people run by Dr. Gillian Vogelsang-Eastwood. The course provides a highly practical introduction to textiles … Continue reading

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Inspiration in Copenhagen

Spending a week at the Centre for Textile Research in June this year proved an inspiration. CTR brings people together to share ideas and inspiration – one of its strengths is that academic writing and experimental archaeology are undertaken alongside … Continue reading

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