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Industrial Revolution: 1770s to 1830s

Industry and Technology

Textile and Leather

By John R Hume

Calton tannery, 1895 Though organised on a large scale by about 1770 the textile and leather industries were still fundamentally hand crafts. By the 1830s, although the leather industries were still using hand techniques, the textile industries had been transformed. Linen manufacture had gone completely and been replaced by cotton, with machine spinning of yarn and, to a growing extent, mechanical weaving. The cotton manufacturers had taken over from the "Tobacco Lords" as the mercantile aristocracy of the city. Water power in Glasgow was limited and in the 1780s the mills built by city merchants were outside the city. There was only one water-powered mill in Glasgow, at North Woodside, completed in 1784. The first steam-powered mill in the city was constructed at Springfield in 1792.

Dalmarnock Cotton Works Within thirty years steam-powered spinning mills, mainly situated in the Bridgeton and Calton areas to the east of the city, had taken over the lead from the water-powered country mills. At first the yarn from the steam mills was either exported as such, or worked up into cloth on hand-looms, but from the mid 1820s large power-loom factories were built, at first as independent businesses. By the mid-1830s these were to a growing extent integrated with spinning mills. Hand-loom weaving persisted, on a large scale, for fine and fancy cloths such as muslins, gauzes, and stripes such as zebra-cloths. Much of the plain cloth - calico - produced by the power looms was printed with patterns in bright colours for export, some of it in the Glasgow area, but most in the Vale of Leven. By 1830 some cloth was bleached in local bleachworks, using bleaching powder made locally. Much of the cloth made in Glasgow was exported.

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