Sir Richard Arkwright
1732 - 1792 A pioneer of the industrial revolution
Sir Richard Arkwright was born in 1732. A former peruke maker, he went on to become a pioneer of the Industrial Revolution through his inventions of cotton spinning machinery and manufacture. Arkwright began building in Cromford in August 1771 and created the world’s first successful water powered cotton spinning mill; a vital step towards full scale factory production.
The mills at Cromford with their powered machinery, large workforce and factory village became models for others throughout Britain and abroad. For the Victorians, who learnt so much from his example, Arkwright earned the accolade ‘Father of the factory system’.
Richard Arkwright’s achievements are acknowledged throughout the world. In Germany, at Cromford (just outside Dusseldorf) and in the United States, at Pawtucket in New England, the first mills using Arkwright’s technology have been restored and preserved as museums. In this country, where the story began, the same process is underway.
The importance of Sir Richard's achievements in Cromford and his partner’s developments further south was recognised in December 2001 when UNESCO inscribed a twenty four kilometre stretch of the Derwent Valley between Matlock Bath and Derby. Inscription by UNESCO as a World Heritage site provided the ultimate confirmation of Cromford’s place in the industrial history of the world.
Other Places connected with Sir Richard Arkwright
Cromford Mill, owned and managed by the Arkwright Society, represents Sir Richard's most important legacy. Yet, this pioneer of the industrial revolution was also directly involved in a number of other ventures in the local area. More details on these are available here