Updated 25 Jul 2009
WIRKSWORTH Parish Records 1600-1900
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Read more about this amazing story on The CROMFORD MILLS.
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Text on rear of above tinted engraving, removed from an [unknown] early 1800s leatherbound book.
SIR R. ARKWRIGHT'S COTTON MILL, AND CASTLE.
SIR RICHARD ARKWRIGHT was born at Preston, in Lancashire, on December 23rd, 1732. His parents moved in an humble walk of life, and, therefore, it may be supposed that the amount of school-learning which he received was exceedingly scanty.
Little is known of the steps by which Arkwright was led to those inventions that raised him to distinction. His first effort in mechanics was an attempt to discover the perpetual motion. This direction having been given to his thoughts, it may naturally be supposed that the circumstances of his living in the midst of the linen and cotton manufacture, would lead him to consider the possibility of contriving some machine, by which the disadvantage of slow production might be overcome; and after much labour and application, he succeeded, in the year 1760, in obtaining his first patent for spinning with rollers.
The first mill erected for spinning cotton by this method was at Nottingham, and was worked by horse-power: but, in 1771, he built another at Cromford, in Derbyshire, to which motion was given by water.
Willersley Castle, the noble home raised with his well-earned wealth, stands on the south side of a commanding eminence, that forms the eastern boundary of the Derwent in its course through Matlock Dale: the river flowing at the foot of the hill, in a grand sweep eastward. The castle consists of an oblong, square building, with a circular tower rising from the centre of the roof, and a semicircular tower projecting from the front on each side of the entrance; and two wings, with a round tower at each angle: the whole structure is embattled, and the exterior walls are of white freestone.
No man ever better deserved his good fortune, or has a stronger claim on the respect and gratitude of posterity. His inventions have opened a new and boundless field of employment; and while they have conferred infinitely more real benefit on his native country than she could have derived from the absolute dominion of Mexico and Peru, they have been universally productive of wealth and enjoyments.
Sir Richard Arkwright died at his Castle at Cromford, August 3rd, 1792, in the 60th year of his age, leaving a fortune estimated at little short of half a million.
Richard Arkwright, Esq., his son, continued the manufacture established by his father. In him were blended the high characters of the British manufacturer and country gentleman: he was much esteemed for his munificence. He died in 1843.
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