Monday, April 9, 2012

Hall i' th' Wood

Hall i' th' Wood
This 16th century building was only a short walk from my school, Canon Slade Grammar School, yet I never visited the hall until yesterday.  For a 13 year old boy, fish and chips were much more appealing than a Grade 1 listed building from the 1500s.  Both the "chippy" and the hall were about the same walking distance from the school, but the chips always won out in the seven years I was at Canon Slade.

Samuel Crompton was one of the more famous inhabitants of the hall and it is here that he both designed and built the first Spinning Mule.  Crompton's mule was quite basic in comparison to its derivatives that were developed in the 1800s yet produced a strong, thin yarn suitable for most types of textiles from its 48 spindles.  Amazingly, at the peak of the cotton industry in Lancashire there was in excess of 50,000,000 spindles.  With 1320 spindles per mule and about 60 mules per mill you can appreciate just how many cotton mills existed in Lancashire alone.  The mule, incidentally, was the most common form of spinning machine from about 1790 through to 1900.

Samuel Crompton's birthplace  at Firwood Fold
Samuel Crompton was born in 1753 at 10 Firwood Fold Bolton.  Samuel's father died whilst Samuel was still a young boy and this required Samuel to earn money to support the family.  Samuel earned money spinning yarns after his father's death but was convinced there was a better way to do the task.  He toiled away for several years before he came up with his invention, which, sadly, he had insufficient funds to patent.  Various promises were made and broken and in the end Samuel Crompton died in poverty even though it was his invention that really helped Lancashire become the dominant textile producer in the world.

Very easy to find, both Hall i' th' Wood and Firwood Fold and well worth a visit if you have time.
Samuel Crompton's birthplace to the left, the schoolhouse to the right.  Lovely old cobbled street at Firwood Fold.

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