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British Industrial History

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William Crompton

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William Crompton (1806-1891) was an inventor in the field of loom technology.

Born 10 September 1806 in Preston, England.

Died 1 May 1891 in Windsor, Connecticut

Crompton was brought up as a hand loom cotton weaver and, at an early age, learned the trade of a machinist. While superintendent of a cotton mill in Ramsbottom, Lancs, he made many experiments on cotton looms.

1836 Went to Taunton, Massachusetts, and devised a loom for the manufacture of fancy cotton goods, receiving a patent on 23 November 1837 (U.S. Patent 491). In this loom one part of the warp was depressed while the other was lifted, instead of allowing one part to remain stationary, thus securing more room for the passage of the shuttle. Another feature of it was an endless loop pattern chain, which, with its peculiar apparatus, operated the warp. This allowed many more pattern sequences and made them much easier to change.

1838 Crompton returned to England, and after patenting his loom there, returned with his family to America in 1839.

1840 Adapted his loom to the weaving of fancy woollens for Middlesex Mills in Lowell, Massachusetts, where he worked for two years.

Late in his career, he divided his time between manufacturing cotton and woollen goods in Millbury, Massachusetts, and touring New England teaching operators how to use his looms.

1849 Crompton retired from active business, and his son, George Crompton, continued improving the loom. In 1900, at least three quarters of all the woollen goods made in the United States were woven on the Crompton loom, or on looms embodying its principles.

The above information is taken from the Wikipedia entry.

On arrival in the USA, he obtained employment with Crocker & Richmond, for whom Crompton invented a loom capable of weaving complex patterns by power. After returning to the USA from England in 1839, Crompton arranged with Phelps & Bickford of Worcester (Mass.) to build his looms. William Crompton’s son George settled in Worcester in 1851.[1]

Additional detail: Crocker and Richmond's mill failed in 1837 and Crompton went back to England, where he entered into cotton textile manufacture with John Rostran, and took out a British patent for his loom under Rostran’s name. In 1839 Crompton returned to the USA in order to promote his looms. The Middlesex Mills in Lowell, Massachusetts, invited him to alter his fancy cotton loom for weaving woollen fabrics. This he accomplished in 1840. In the book 'American Textile Machinery', John Hayes quoted the Committee on Patents of the United States House of Representatives, 1878: "...... upon the Crompton loom or looms based on it, are woven every yard of fancy cloth in the world."[2]

George Crompton (23 March 1829 - 29 December 1886), the son of William and Sarah (nee Low), was born at Holcombe, Tottingham, Lancashire.[3]


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. [1] Worcester Historical Museum, Enterprise Timeline
  2. [2] Smithsonian website: Patent Model of a Power Loom
  3. [3] Worcester Polytechnic Institute - Crompton and Knowles Loom Works Collection