The water frame is the name given to a spinning frame, when water power is used to drive it. Both are credited to Richard Arkwright who patented the technology in 1768. It was based on an invention by Thomas Highs and the patent was later overturned.
The water frame is derived from the use of a water wheel to drive a number of spinning frames. The water wheel provided more power to the spinning frame than human operators, reducing the amount of human labor needed and increasing the spindle count dramatically. However, unlike the spinning jenny, the water frame could only spin one thread at a time until Samuel Crompton combined the two inventions into his spinning mule in 1779.
Relation to Textiles:
The water frame represented the other branch of innovation in the textiles industry; while the spinning jenny and the flying shuttle increased the productivity of a single worker, the water frame used an external power source to eliminate the need for an operator to power a machine, using far less people to produce significantly more output than before.
In 1771 Arkwright installed the water frame in his cotton mill at Cromford; it was one of the first factories built to specifically house machines rather than to just bring workers together. Combined with a working day based on the clock rather than daylight hours, it resulted in a continuous process that was able to supply huge amounts of thread to the new thread-hungry looms.
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