Dyer, John

SUBJECT AREA: Textiles
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fl. c.1833 England
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English inventor of an improved milling machine for woollen cloth.
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After being woven, woollen cloth needed to be cleaned and compacted to thicken it and take out the signs of weaving. The traditional way of doing this was to place the length of cloth in fulling stocks, where hammers pounded it in a solution of fuller's earth, but in 1833 John Dyer, a Trowbridge engineer, took out a patent for the first alternative way with real possibilities. He sold the patent the following year but must have reserved the right to make his machine himself, incorporating various additions and improvements into it, because many of the machines used in Trowbridge after 1850 came from him. Milling machines were often used in conjunction with fulling stocks. The cloth was made up into a continuous length and milled by rollers forcing it through a hole or spout, from where it dropped into the fulling liquid to be soaked before being pulled out and pushed through the hole again. Dyer had three pairs of rollers, with one pair set at right angles to the others so that the cloth was squeezed in two directions. These machines do not seem to have come into general use until the 1850s. His machine closely resembled those still in use.
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Bibliography
1833, British patent no. 6,460 (milling machine).
Further Reading
J.de L.Mann, 1971, The Cloth Industry in the West of England from 1660 to 1880, Oxford (provides a brief account of the introduction of the milling machine).
K.G.Ponting, 1971, The Woollen Industry of South-West England, Bath (a general account of the textile industry in the West Country).
RLH

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

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