Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society

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Mar 2010

Tue 09 Mar 2010
Life and Times of Samuel Crompton by Donna Hughes.

After missing our January meeting due to be being snowbound Donna finally made it, albeit with a cold. Her husband, Harry, scheduled to speak at our March meeting did the decent thing and stepped aside for her.
Donna last visited us in January 2009 with her talk on the History of Spinning and Weaving.
Samuel Crompton was born in December 1753 into a very poor family in Firwood Fold, Bolton.
In 1758 the family moved into Hall iíthí Wood where his father was caretaker. Unfortunately, he died aged 32 and Betty, his widow, was left to bring up Samuel and his siblings.

Donna demonstrating how to 'card' the wool.

Samuel Crompton (1753 - 1827)

Samuel could spin on a spinning wheel by aged 5. Aged 7 he was sent to school to learn to read and learn trigonometry. He was also sent to a master weaver to learn that craft.
At that time the weaving process was time consuming but changes were happening. James Hargreaves had invented the spinning jenny, which Samuel worked on it but didnít like it. Wool or flax was worked but cotton had started to be imported.
Samuel set himself to work on how to improve the jenny so making it able to produce a fine strong cotton yarn.
It took him 10 years to develop, 5 years to think, 5 years to build.
His machine had 48 spindles and produced excellent cotton yarn, which sold for a good price at Bolton market. Unfortunately he couldnít afford the patent.

He charged people to view the machine in 1780 and 53 individuals agreed to pay £70. However, he actually received £60. The subscription list revealed many people who went and made their fortune and fame in the mills.
His machine was wrecked at the hands of the Luddites and moved because of the trouble. He continued improving the machinery by adding more spindles on his mule.
Samuel was a great inventor and innovator but a bad businessman. Robert Peel visited and offered money for his mule but was turned down. He lost his apprentices to others that paid more.
In 1810, aged 50, he was desperate but failed in his petition for money. In stark contrast £40m worth of cotton was spun on mules that employed 70,000 people.

Part of Donna's display

The only surviving example of a spinning mule
built by Samuel Crompton

By 1812 another petition for money was made to government on his behalf by people that included some who had benefited from his mule. Unfortunately, Spencer Percival, who was to read his petition on 11 May 1812, was shot dead.

Samuel was finally awarded just £5,000 for a life-time of invention and innovation that benefited not just individuals but the country as a whole.
Sadly he died, aged 73, with more debts than assets.
Belatedly, Bolton council recognized his importance by erecting a statue to him in the town in 1862.

Hall i' th' Wood manor house,
a former home of Samuel Crompton