Swainson Birley Cotton Mill near Preston, Lancashire, 1834.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
One of five drawings in pencil, pen and wash by Thomas Allom, showing a view of the mill from the surrounding fields. A farmer herding cows in the foreground highlights the contrast between the agricultural and industrial landscapes. Cotton was spun and woven into cloth by hand until the late 1700s, when Sir Richard Arkwright (1732-1792) and others developed textile machinery which revolutionised cotton manufacturing. Rapid mechanisation of the industry throughout Britain and Europe lowered the cost of cotton production while increasing demand for cotton products, and workers were increasingly driven from the fields into the new cotton mills and factories.