Edmund Cartwright, British textiles pioneer, c 1780s.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving by T Oldham Barlow after a painting by Robert Fulton. Edmund Cartwright (1743-1823) visited Richard Arkwright's cotton mills in 1784, just before Arkwright's patent was due to expire on the mills. A mechanical means of weaving cotton was needed as the new mills would produce far too much cotton to weave manually. In 1785-1787 Cartwright patented a water-powered loom (later steam-powered) to run the mechanisms. The new machine wove much faster than a skilled manual weaver. Cartwright's inventions drove new developments in power weaving, while forcing many skilled workers out of their jobs. He also patented a wool-combing machine and an alcohol engine, and was agricultural experimenter to the Dukes of Bedford.