Local cotton industries in Greater Manchester

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Do you know what these objects are, and what the connection was between them?

Click on the images below to find out more

Crompton's Mule, 1802, Bolton Museum and Archive

See this object at Bolton Museum and Archive Service

This item may not always be on display, please check with the venue before visiting

Samuel Crompton developed his first spinning mule in 1779. It was called a mule because it combined two previous cotton spinning machines, the water frame and the spinning jenny.

It produced large quantities of fine, strong cotton yarn. From 1781-1791, the first decade of the mule’s use, the amount of raw cotton supplied to Britain more than tripled. The mule helped to revolutionise the British cotton industry. It massively increased the amount of cotton yarn manufacturers could produce, which meant more demand for raw cotton to supply the mills.

Despite the success of the mule, Samuel Crompton was unable to patent his design and made very little money from it. He eventually died in poverty in 1827. However, after his death he became a local hero in Bolton, and nationally known as the inventor of the mule.

Crompton’s invention meant large scale employment, especially in Greater Manchester, and the cotton industry generated a huge amount of wealth for Britain.

The mule in the photograph ended up in the firm Dobson and Barlow of Bolton which manufactured cotton machinery. The mule was lent to Bolton museum to teach the history of the cotton industry. It became a permanent part of the museum collections when the last Dobson family member retired from the firm in the early 1900s.

The mule is probably one of the most important objects in any museum in the north west of England because of the impact the cotton spinning industry had in the region.