Spinning Wheel, c 18th century.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
The spinning wheel was a standard piece of equipment in the 18th century home. This wheel is believed to have belonged to Richard Arkwright (1732-1792). Arkwright was the inventor of textile manufacturing machinery, which included the first practical means of mechanical spinning using rollers. The invention of the spinning machine revolutionised the production of yarn and led to rapid mechanisation throughout Britain. Although Arkwright's first installation was worked by a horse, water wheels were generally used, so the spinning machines came to be called water frames.