Houldsworth, Henry

SUBJECT AREA: Textiles
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b. 1797 Manchester (?), England
d. 1868 Manchester (?), England
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English cotton spinner who introduced the differential gear to roving frames in Britain.
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There are two claimants for the person who originated the differential gear as applied to roving frames: one is J.Green, a tinsmith of Mansfield, in his patent of 1823; the other is Arnold, who had applied it in America and patented it in early 1823. This latter was the source for Houldsworth's patent in 1826. It seems that Arnold's gearing was secretly communicated to Houldsworth by Charles Richmond, possibly when Houldsworth visited the United States in 1822–3, but more probably in 1825 when Richmond went to England. In return, Richmond received information about parts of a cylinder printing machine from Houldsworth. In the working of the roving frame, as the rovings were wound onto their bobbins and the diameter of the bobbins increased, the bobbin speed had to be reduced to keep the winding on at the same speed while the flyers and drawing rollers had to maintain their initial speed. Although this could be achieved by moving the driving belt along coned pulleys, this method did not provide enough power and slippage occurred. The differential gear combined the direct drive from the main shaft of the roving frame with that from the cone drive, so that only the latter provided the dif-ference between flyer and bobbin speeds, i.e. the winding speeds, thus taking away most of the power from that belt. Henry Houldsworth Senior (1774–1853) was living in Manchester when his son Henry was born, but by 1800 had moved to Glasgow. He built several mills, including a massive one at Anderston, Scotland, in which a Boulton \& Watt steam engine was installed. Henry Houldsworth Junior was probably back in Manchester by 1826, where he was to become an influential cotton spinner as chief partner in his mills, which he moved out to Reddish in 1863–5. He was also a prominent landowner in Cheetham. When William Fairbairn was considering establishing the Association for the Prevention of Steam Boiler Explosions in 1854, he wanted to find an influential manufacturer and mill-owner and he made a happy choice when he turned to Henry Houldsworth for assistance.
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Bibliography
1826, British patent no. 5,316 (differential gear for roving frames).
Further Reading
Details about Henry Houldsworth Junior are very sparse. The best account of his acquisition of the differential gear is given by D.J.Jeremy, 1981, Transatlantic Industrial Revolution. The Diffusion of Textile Technologies Between Britain and America, 1790–1830, Oxford.
W.English, 1969, The Textile Industry, London (an explanation of the mechanisms of the roving frame).
W.Pole, 1877, The Life of Sir William Fairbairn, Bart., London (provides an account of the beginning of the Manchester Steam Users' Association for the Prevention of Steam-boiler Explosions).
RLH

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

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