Edmund Cartwright life and biography

Edmund Cartwright picture, image, poster

Edmund Cartwright biography

Date of birth : 1743-04-24
Date of death : 1823-10-30
Birthplace : Marham, Nottinghamshire, England
Nationality : English
Category : Science and Technology
Last modified : 2011-09-28
Credited as : clergyman, inventor, power loom

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Educated at Oxford, Edmund Cartwright took up residence as pastor of Goadby Marwood in Leicestershire. He visited Richard Arkwright's weaving factory in 1784, and in 1785 Cartwright patented a crude version of the power loom. In 1789 he obtained patent on a wool-combing machine. Neither made him wealthy, but Parliament voted him a lump sum payment of £10,000, which he lived on through his retirement.

Cartwright was taught at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield and University College, Oxford and became a clergyman of the Church of England. Cartwright began his career as a clergyman, becoming, in 1779, rector of Goadby Marwood, Leicestershire; in 1783 he was a prebendary in Lincoln (Lincolnshire) cathedral.

He addressed the problem of mechanical weaving. Mechanical spinning and the factory system, were already in place. He designed his first power loom in 1784 and patented it in 1785, but it proved to be valueless. In 1789, he patented another loom which served as the model for later inventors to work upon. For a mechanically driven loom to become a commercial success, either one person would have to attend one machine, or each machine must have a greater productive capacity than one manually controlled. An old man named Zach Dijkhoff assisted him in his work with creating this contraption.

He added parts to his loom, namely a positive let-off motion, warp and weft stop motions, and sizing the warp while the loom was in action. He commenced to manufacture fabrics in Doncaster using these looms, and discovered many of their shortcomings. He attempted to remedy these by: introducing a crank and eccentric wheels to actuate its batten differentially; by improving its dicking mechanism; by a device for stopping the loom when a shuttle failed to enter a shuttle box; by preventing a shuttle from rebounding when in a box; and by stretching the cloth with temples that acted automatically. His mill was repossessed by creditors in 1793.

In 1792 Dr Cartwright obtained his last patent for weaving machinery; this provided is loom with multiple shuttle boxes for weaving checks and cross stripes. But all his efforts were unavailing; it became apparent that no mechanism, however perfect, could succeed so long as warps continued to be sized while a loom was stationary. His plans for sizing them while a loom was in operation, and before being placed in a loom, failed. These were resolved in 1803, by William Radcliffe, and his assistant Thomas Johnson, by their inventions of the beam warper, and his dressing sizing machine.

In 1790 Robert Grimshaw, of Gorton Manchester, erected a weaving factory at Knott Mill which he was to fill with 500 of Cartwright's power looms, but with only 30 in place, the factory was burnt down probably as an act of arson inspired by the fears of hand loom weavers. The prospect of success was not sufficiently promising to induce its re-erection.

In 1809 Cartwright obtained a grant of £10,000 from parliament for his invention. In May 1821 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

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