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eyelet-hole machine, and in concert with Mr. Thomas Frost, now of Worcester, obtained patents for various inventions, which gradually led to the net and lace frames.
The first machine for making lace from a stocking frame was contrived Lace in 1777; and the invention of it was disputed by Mr. Robert Frost, and Machine. a poor operative of Nottingham, of the name of Holmes. This was superseded by the point-net machine, the offspring of the ingenuity of Mr. John Lindley, senior; at whose death, Mr. Thomas Taylor, of Chapel-bar, having improved upon the principle, took out a patent. This subsequently was further improved by Mr. Hiram Flint, but it has been almost wholly superseded by the warp and bobbin net. About thirty years ago* the whole, or nearly so, of the lace made by machinery, was produced from what are termed point-net machines; a machine probably more delicate in Point-net its construction than any other that was ever used for manufacturing purposes, either in this or any other country. At the commencement of the period above named, 1799, it had arrived at nearly its greatest point of perfection, and was extensively used; probably there might be nearly one thousand machines of that description at work.
In the year 1802 or 1803, the manufacture of lace-net from the warpmachine was resumed with success by some individuals in Nottingham. This kind of lace had been previously made by an ingenious man of the name of Dawson, the inventor of the brace-machine, but had been discontinued from some cause not generally known. Several important improve- Improvements were soon afterwards made, which caused this branch to extend it- ments. self rapidly, so that in the year 1808 it began to vie in some measure with the point-net.-Notwithstanding the hitherto successful progress of the lace trade, it was very properly considered, that the merit of Nottingham lace rested principally upon its being an imitation of bobbin or cushionlace. It was at the same time admitted, that this imitation was very imperfect, that the net was greatly inferior in strength, durability and transparency to that fabric: (these observations apply particularly to the lace made from cotton) and these facts induced many persons to turn their attention to the making of that article, by some process, possessing facility superior to the common method of making it upon the cushion.-Great encouragement being readily afforded by many individuals, particularly by Mr. Nunn, lace manufacturer of Nottingham, to any person who professed himself competent to construct a machine capable of making bobbin net, excited great interest and attention to the subject. Still it was considered generally, by sober-thinking persons, something like the study of the perpetual motion, as a ridiculous, fruitless enterprise. Amongst a number of persons whose attention was thus drawn to the subject, was John Heathcote of Loughborough, a stocking weaver by trade, who had made himself acquainted, in some degree, with the general mode of fitting up machinery in Nottingham, some time previous. To him must be conceded the distinguished honour of having brought into use a machine at all calculated to meet the expectations and wishes of the trade. Like many others, he
The publisher is indebted to an eminent lace manufacturer for the ensuing very able account of the invention and introduction of the bobbin and carriage machine, with its application to steam-power and subsequent improvements.
was for a long time beating about in uncertainty, until, by a train of circumstances, which shall be afterwards explained, he fell into the right tract and success crowned his efforts. In the year 1809, he took out his famous patent; famous on account of the great sum of money, he in conjunction with his partner, Mr. Charles Lacey, had derived from it, as well as for its great importance in a manufacturing and commercial point of view, when considered as the parent of other more improved machinery, which afterwards followed.
To John Heathcote, therefore, has generally been attributed the invention of the bobbin-net machine, and far be it from us to detract in the slightest degree from any man, and particularly from one who has rendered himself useful to society, any portion of that merit: still justice is equally due to other parties, and we shall therefore adhere strictly to the sacred line she has drawn, and record, with impartial truth, facts as they are, however individuals may be affected by it.
The invention, then, more properly belongs to Robert Brown, late of Nottingham, or to George Whitmore of the same place, his partner, or to both conjointly, who invented a machine, in or about the year 1803, for the purpose of making fishing nets. This machine possesses all the essential principles and properties of Heathcote's patent bobbin-net machine, and is, in fact, to all intents and purposes, a bobbin-net machine. To this machine must be traced the date of the invention and use of the bobbin Bobbin and and carriage; to this machine must be referred the method of using two divisions of threads, the warp and the bobbin; and to this machine, and certainly to this alone, must be attributed the important discovery of passing, or, as it is generally termed, twisting two divisions of threads with order and regularity, and without entanglement distinctly round each other. Robert Brown's patent for this machine was regularly specified and enrolled at the Patent Office, and therefore may be referred to by any individual who has any doubt as to the correctness of this statement. The idea of reducing the thickness of the bobbin and carriage, to a scale suitable to the manufacture of bobbin-net-lace, seems to have originated with a person of the name of Edward Whittaker of Radford, who was acquainted with the above-named Robert Brown, and had in consequence obtained a knowledge of his fishing-net-machine. Whittaker was assisted in his project by Messrs. Hood and Taylor, at that period lace manufacturers in Nottingham, who sent him over to Loughborough, partly with the view of removing him out of the reach of the Nottingham mechanics, but principally to place him with Mr. Hood's brother (Mr. Charles Hood) who was in business as a framesmith at that place, and who was to do the smithing work and to render what assistance he was capable of to Whittaker. In the course of time, Messrs. Hood and Taylor grew weary of the project and withdrew their support; in consequence of which, Charles Hood held the machine which Whittaker and himself had been constructing, for a real or pretended debt, and afterwards sold it to John Heathcote, for the paltry sum of 8 or £10.
John Heathcote having thus obtained a knowledge of at least the principles of the machine he afterwards constructed, and probably but little more, he industriously applied himself, and in the year following or soon
СНАР. 5. Heathcote's
afterwards, obtained his patent as before described. This machine, although it clearly demonstrates the possession of great mechanical talent in the inventor, is nevertheless remarkable for its complexity, for the number Machine. of its distinct movements, and for its circuitous method of effecting the end designed. Its imperfect mode likewise of making the selvages, and the use of stretchers (long strips of wood with pins at each end) for the purpose of preventing the net running in at the edges, which rendered it necessary for the workman to stop his machine every four or five holes, in order to adjust the bobbin, and replace the stretchers, occasioned the manufacture of lace upon this machine, comparatively speaking, necessarily slow and expensive. Still its advantages, compared with the method of making lace by the hand upon the cushion, were incalculable.
The success of John Heathcote induced others to exert themselves and to follow in the same tract, and in the year following (1810) John Brown, of Nottingham, invented his traverse warp machine; a machine Traverse admirably adapted for making a number of breadths or narrow strips of Warp lace, but not calculated for wide widths. This machine, although it likewise displayed great mechanical contrivance in the inventor, was nevertheless expensive and delicate in its construction, and the working and management of it were attended with difficulty.
In the year 1811, William Morley of Nottingham invented his straight- Morley's bolt machine; a machine much more simple in its construction, and in its Straightmovements more concentrated and easy: which, with the improved method of changing the situation of the bobbins upon the selvage, and the invention of the spur or selvage-wheels for the lace to run over, gave this machine great facilities and advantages over Heathcote's machine. Nevertheless, owing to the horizontal movement of this machine, which occasions an alternate tightening and slackening of the bobbin threads, an imperfection in the appearance of the net will be produced, unless care is exercised by the workman. In the same year, the pusher machine was invented, principally by Samuel Mart and James Clark, of Nottingham; the latter now resides in France. This machine was used, for a long time by several persons, with much success in making breadths or narrow edgings of lace. It certainly possesses advantages, which shall be afterwards named, but is delicate and expensive in its construction, and subject to many inconveniences, which render it unsuitable for general use. In the year following (1812) the circular-bolt machine was invented by the before-named Wil- Morley's liam Morley, which machine has all the advantages of the straight-bolt machine, without the disadvantages.
In the same year, the leaver machine was invented, by John Leavers, sen. framesmith of New Radford, and Turton, conjointly, of the same place. This machine, which on account of the strong resemblance it bears to Heathcote's machine in many of its prominent features, cannot be considered as forming a distinct principle, like the others before described: but may, without much impropriety, be designated a single tier Loughborough machine. It is, however, deserving of particular notice, on account of its general adoption by the trade. This machine, when originally constructed, stood in an horizontal position, something like a machine lying upon its side. This is supposed to have been done for the purpose of
CHAP. 5. making it look as much as possible unlike Heathcote's machine, which the constructors knew it so much resembled, with the idea of evading his patent, rather than from any advantage it derived from that position; on the contrary, it was subject to many disadvantages, and was in consequence changed to its present upright form by John Leavers, jun. son of the above, some time before he went to France, where he now resides. The general appearance of this machine is unfavourable, its movements complex and its construction delicate; but these disadvantages are counterbalanced by the excellence of the net produced from it.
Many alterations and improvements have been since made by various individuals in lace machinery, but nothing that requires a particular description, except the application of it to power; the first attempt of which was made in 1818 or 1819, by John Lindley of Loughborough, who constructed a machine, possessing the properties of the lever and traverse warp machines combined. This machine he worked by a rotary movement, at Tottenham near London, in conjunction with Mr. C. Lacey, Mr. Heathcote's original partner; but the project did not answer; on the contrary, it proved ruinous to the parties. About the same time, John Heathcote applied the rotary movement to the circular-bolt machine, and established a manufactory upon that principle at Tiverton in Devon; and in a few years, several other establishments, emanating from the same place, commenced in that and the neighbouring county of Somerset, so that the number of manufacturers in the west of England are very considerable.
The individuals who have most distinguished themselves in improving lace machinery, and in rendering it capable of being worked with advantage by mechanical power, are John Heathcote, William Morley, Sewel, William Jackson and William Henson. William Mosely of Radford attempted to work the leaver machine by a rotary motion, without success; and others who attempted to work the pusher machine and traverse warp, &c. met with no better fate. It is a remarkable fact, that hitherto no machine excepting those on the circular-bolt principle, have been found capable of being worked by mechanical power successfully.
The number of twist-lace machines at work in this country are about four thousand, and are still on the increase; the great bulk of them are on the circular-bolt and leaver principles, but it is difficult to say what proportion there are of each.
Heathcote's patent-machine, known by the name of the Loughborough or rather the old Loughborough, may be considered as entirely out of use. The number of traverse warp-machines are limited and on the decline; the number of straight-bolt machines are likewise on the decline; the number of pusher machines are very limited, but their number and value are kept up in consequence of a kind of lace called the Grecian net, being at this time rather fashionable, for the manufacture of which article this machine is particularly adapted. Nearly the whole therefore of the new machines now building, are either leaver machines to be worked by hand, or circular-bolt ones, to work by a rotary motion, adapted either for hand or power.
The lace manufactories of Derbyshire are in number about forty, and they employ eight hundred persons, besides giving employment to between
three and four thousand females, who figure or run the net when it is taken from the loom. Messrs. Boden and Morley, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Wigston Lace Manuand Mr. Ward, work their machines by steam-power. In Derby alone factories. there are one hundred and fifty lace machines, in Chesterfield thirty, in Ilkeston forty, and a few at Duffield, Matlock, Melbourn, &c. and the quantity produced is so immense, that the depression of the business seems to be the necessary consequence of over-production. Four-fourths bobbinnet was sold in 1809, by Messrs. Heathcote and Lacey (the original patentees) for five guineas per yard; and lace, of a superior quality, may now be purchased for 1s. 6d. per yard.
Quillings or narrow edgings of lace (which was first made from the traverse warp-machine) three inches broad, that sold in 1810 for 4s. 6d. per yard, is now selling for 1d. and improved in quality.
Silk,* it has been noticed, was used as the principal material in hosiery Silk. soon after the invention of the stocking-frame, but it was not until the beginning of the eighteenth century that the manufacture of that elegant article by machinery upon an extensive scale was introduced into this country. The Italians had previously possessed the art of throwing silk by means of machinery, and the French excelled in the fabric of piecegoods. Attempts were made in England to rival these productions, but without success. A person named Crocket endeavoured to throw silk at Derby in the year 1702; but his machinery was imperfect, and it was not until 1715, that a young ingenious and enterprising mechanic, whose name was Lombe, resolved to proceed to Italy and investigate personally the whole process. He encountered many dangers, but returned to England in 1717, with plans and drawings, and accompanied by two Italian workmen. He came immediately to Derby, and rented of the corporation a long swampy island in the Derwent for eight pounds per annum, and there erected THE SILK MILL, which was long esteemed a masterpiece of me- Lombe's chanical skill. While the mill was building, Mr. Lombe erected temporary machines (turned by hand) in the town hall, and other places, by which he was enabled to pay for the erection of the grand machine, as the work went on. In 1718 he obtained a patent for a term of fourteen years; but the Italians were enraged at his success, and he fell a victim to their vengeance, in the year 1722; it being supposed that a slow poison, administered to him by an artful woman from that country, occasioned his death at the early age of twenty-nine. One of the Italians who had accompanied Mr. Lombe from Italy, and whose name was Gartrevalli, remained at Derby for some time, and afterwards worked at a silk mill which had been established at Stockport, where he died in poverty.
* It was not till the year 555 that two Greek monks, returning from the Indies to Constantinople, brought with them a number of silk-worms, with instructions for hatching their eggs, rearing and feeding the worms, drawing out the silk, &c. : upon which, manufactories were set up at Athens, Thebes and Corinth. In the 12th century, Roger King of Sicily, established a manufactory at Palermo and another in Calabria, having brought workmen from the cities of Greece, which he had conquered in his expedition to the Holy Land; and by degrees the rest of Italy as well as Spain, learned the art from the Sicilians and Calabrians. In the reign of Henry the Second, the French began to imitate their neighbours with good success; and James the First was very desirous of having mulberry trees planted and silk-worms propagated in his British dominions: where, from various experiments, it appears they will thrive and work as well as in any other part of Europe. Near Tiverton, Mr. Heathcote has planted about thirty acres with mulberry trees, and many millions of worms are now at work there.