Modern and old power looms, 1851.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Plate taken from the 'Official Catalogue of the Great Exhibition' (Vol 1), published in 1851, showing a 'modern' power loom alongside an earlier one. Looms are used in weaving - the proces of interlacing two or more yarns at right angles to produce a fabric. The invention of the power loom by Edmund Cartwright (1743-1823) in 1786, in which the shuttle is moved acros the warp automatically, dramatically increased the speed at which cloth could be woven and enabled more complicated designs to be produced.