Richard Arkwright, British inventor of textile machinery, 1790.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Oil painting on canvas by Joseph Wright of Derby, set in a contemporary Belper family frame. Arkwright (1732-1792) was the inventor of 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.