Cotchett, Thomas

SUBJECT AREA: Textiles
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fl. 1700s
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English engineer who set up the first water-powered textile mill in Britain at Derby.
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At the beginning of the eighteenth century, silk weaving was one of the most prosperous trades in Britain, but it depended upon raw silk worked up on hand twisting or throwing machines. In 1702 Thomas Cotchett set up a mill for twisting silk by water-power at the northern end of an island in the river Derwent at Derby; this would probably have been to produce organzine, the hard twisted thread used for the warp when weaving silk fabrics. Such mills had been established in Italy beginning with the earliest in Bologna in 1272, but it would appear that Cotchett used Dutch silk-throwing machinery that was driven by a water wheel that was 13½ ft (4.1 m) in diameter and built by the local engineer, George Sorocold. The enterprise soon failed, but it was quickly revived and extended by Thomas and John Lombe with machinery based on that being used successfully in Italy.
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Further Reading
D.M.Smith, 1965, Industrial Archaeology of the East Midlands, Newton Abbot (provides an account of Cotchett's mill).
W.H.Chaloner, 1963, "Sir Thomas Lombe (1685–1739) and the British silk industry", History Today (Nov.).
R.L.Hills, 1970, Power in the Industrial Revolution, Manchester (a brief coverage of the development of early silk throwing mills).
D.Kuhn, 1988, Science and Civilisation in China, Vol. V: Chemistry and Chemical
Technology, Part 9, Textile Technology: spinning and reeling, Cambridge (covers the diffusion of the techniques of the mechanization of the silk-throwing industry from China to the West).
RLH

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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