Saturday, 16 December 2017
Picking Sticks, Patents and Power Looms
Speaker: Ian Gibson
On Thursday 16th November, 132 members of the now 497-strong U3A Todmorden enjoyed a stimulating talk by Ian Gibson about key developments in the machinery that drove the UK textile industry forward.
Ian hooked us with some opening slides showing ancient textiles from before 1800 BC. A Greek vase depicting a loom took us neatly onto William Lee’s unpatented knitting frame of 1589.
This led to an unexpected and revelatory tangent on patenting. The first patent was issued in 1617 and of the first 1000, 150 were related to textile production, highlighting the importance of textiles in the UK’s economic growth as an industrial power.
John Kay’s Flying Shuttle (Patent No 542) of 1733 advanced the profitability of a single loom operator’s labour by enabling him to weave cloth that was much wider than his personal reach. This process was improved by William Horrocks whose patents of 1803 and 1805 for mechanized picking sticks helped to accelerate the speed of weaving.
Ian drew an unusual link between weaving and the development of the Japanese car industry. In the 1920s, Platt Brothers of Oldham bought the patent rights to the Toyoda Type G High Speed Shuttle Changing Loom from Japan. The enormous sum they paid for this was used to kickstart the Toyota motor vehicle company.
Ian was equally interesting on spinning, describing with clarity the complicated process of drawing out yarn. We’ve all heard of Arkwright’s water frame, but I doubt many of us knew of Lewis Paul, inventor of its predecessor, (or that Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks suggest he may have got there first).
Paul invented the use of rollers in producing finer and finer yarn, but didn’t do it very well. Arkwright did, and created machines that were 30 feet wide which in turn influenced the width of weaving sheds.
Then James Hargreaves developed the Spinning Jenny enabling yarn to be spun, drawn and twisted faster than on a water frame. And Samuel Crompton improved on that with his spinning mule which combined features of Arkwright’s and Hargreaves’ machines.
Ian was passionate about retaining museums that house the machines that established the wealth and character of the industrial north, and highlighted the plight of Queen Street Mill in Burnley, currently looking for a new operational manager. We were lucky to have such an enthusiastic and knowledgeable speaker.
We were equally lucky to hear from Campbell Malone representing the Art Appreciation group who talked of its wide-ranging scope. They discuss painting, sculpture, knitting, glass and photographs, for example, enjoy outings and encourage intellectual openness and honesty.
U3A Todmorden’s next meeting will be held on Thursday, 21st December in the Central Methodist Hall in Todmorden at 1.45. This will be our Christmas meeting with a festive fruit punch, a quiz and a presentation of light-hearted Christmassy entertainment by ‘Peter Sheldon Productions’ with monologue, story and song.
Many thanks to Anthony Peter for this report
Previous U3A reports on the HebWeb
HebWeb News: One Woman Antiques Roadshow with Sheila Antrobus (5 Nov 2017)
HebWeb News: Greenwode to Gibson to National Trust with speaker Trevor Moody (10 Oct 2017)
HebWeb News: Music for Pleasure and Food for Thought with speakers Neil Smith and Geoff Tansey (13 Aug 2017)
HebWeb News: The Political and Social satire of Gilbert and Sullivan (7 July 2017)
HebWeb News: Professor Scott Scores a Euro-Hit with speaker Professor Derek Scott of Leeds University (10 May 2017)
HebWeb News: Old Flames and Steamy Memories. With speaker Granville Dobson (9 April 2017)
HebWeb News: Titus Salt – Philanthropic Paternalist or Capitalist Villain? With speaker Maria Glot (2 March 2017)
HebWeb News: Shaking Hitler's Hand (by proxy) - with speaker Alun Pugh (12 Feb 2017)
HebWeb News: Masterclass on Gilbert and Sullivan at U3A Todmorden - with speaker Bernard Lockett (28 Oct 2016)
HebWeb News: Moses Holden, Autodidact of Preston - with speaker Steve Halliwell (7 Oct 2016)
HebWeb News: Volunteering in Palestine and Guatemala - with speaker David Gilman (9 Aug 2016)
HebWeb News: Snow, Permafrost, Insects, Iron - with speaker Dr Frank Nicholson (7 July 2016)
HebWeb News:Stranger in a Strange Land - with speaker Gill Russell (7 May 2016)
HebWeb News:Life with polio and a career as a TV and Radio presenter. with speaker Jane Shepherd (12 June 2016)
HebWeb News:Small in a Tall Person's World with speakers Hamish Willis and Penny Dean OBE (31 March 2016)
HebWeb News:In the Footsteps of Norbert Carteret (22 February 2016)
HebWeb News:Gallivanting on Public Transport - a Bus Pass from Berwick to Land's End (30 September 2015)
HebWeb News: Magna Carta - A (Mostly) Light-hearted look at 800 Years of History (1 September 2015)
HebWeb News: Summat a' Nowt - talk by Steve Murty (28 April 2015)
HebWeb News: My Convict Ancestors (12 April 2015)
HebWeb News: Aquaponics Lab - A Radical Solution (16 January 2015)
HebWeb News: British Professional Cycling – Tykes and Le Tour de France (11 December 2014)
HebWeb News: Life in La Serenissima, Venice - Kathryn Ogden (9 July 2014)
HebWeb News: University of the Third Age: The Machine that Changed the World (25 February 2014)
HebWeb News: University of the Third Age: Music and the Deaf (12 February 2014)
HebWeb News: University of the Third Age: Psychology and You - Part Two David Groves made a welcome return as a speaker at the October Todmorden U3A (26 October 2013)
HebWeb News: Hebden Bridge Little Theatre, A Short History was recounted by Ray Riches to the University of the Third Age. (28 Aug 2013)
HebWeb News: John Sheard, retired land agent to the Duke of Devonshire, gave his third talk to members of the U3A, this time on Sir Joseph Paxton, Knighted Gardener (26 July 2013)
HebWeb News: Off Stage Choices: Andrew Rawlinson recounts his theatre experience from Tod Operatic to General Manager of a leading Theatre Group. (18 July 2013)
HebWeb News: The Story of the Hebden Bridge Calendar (April 2013)
HebWeb News: Changing Times in the Press (March 2013)
HebWeb News: Cancer from Both Sides (Nov 2012)
HebWeb News: Steve Halliwell outlined the history of the Woodland Trust (Sept 2012)
HebWeb News: Ray Riches talks on Walking the Pacific Crest Trail (Aug 2012)
HebWeb News: Pitch and Pythagoras - Pulse and Prison (July 2012)
HebWeb News - Lord Shutt explains the workings of the House of Lords (May 2012)
HebWeb News - Claire Benedict talks acting to Todmorden U3A (April 2012)
HebWeb News - Kate Moreton-Deakin spoke about her day job as Associate Director - Corporate Social Responsibility with Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust. (Feb 2012)
HebWeb News - Fair Trade Movement (Feb 2012)
HebWeb News - Fancy a cruise to the Antarctic? (Feb 2012)
HebWeb News - Gail Allaby, U3A's Queen of the Underworld (Dec 2011)
HebWeb News - September meeting report - Report of meeting about Walking the Pacific Crest Trail
HebWeb News - August meeting report - Bolton Abbey
HebWeb News - May and June meeting report - Keep Learning: Live long and prosper and the role of the Lord-Lieutenant
HebWeb News - April meeting report - Belt and Braces - An Everyday Guide to Risk and Chance
HebWeb News - March meeting report - Growing Old in the Twenty-First Century