History Mesh

The power loom (1784)

The first power loom, a mechanized loom powered by a drive shaft, was designed in 1784 by Edmund Cartwright and first built in 1785. It was refined over the next 47 years until a design by Kenworthy and Bullough made the operation completely automatic (the Lancashire Loom).

The power loom reduced demand for skilled handweavers, initially causing reduced wages and unemployment. Protests followed its introduction. For example, in 1816 two thousand rioting Calton weavers tried to destroy power loom mills, and stoned the workers. A darker side of the power loom’s impact was the growth of employment of children in power loom mills.

Relation to Textiles:

Much like the water frame did for spinning, the power loom started automating the process of weaving, though it was a long time until the power loom was fully automatic.

Cartwright’s initial version of the loom was not very commercially successful, but by the 1850s, there were a quarter of a million looms operating in the UK, compared to the 240 that were operating in 1803.

Of course, the power loom, like many of the innovations in weaving, caused a number of riots, and several machines were smashed by workers; eventually, however, the growth in weaving caused a growth in exports and thus a growth in industrial employment, albeit lower-paid employment.

Read more about the power loom on Wikipedia.