(b. 1732, Preston, d. 1792, Cromford)

Cotton mill

North Street, Cromford, Derbyshire

From 1771, Arkwright constructed in Cromford his first factories powered by steam engines, invented by James Watt in 1764. They are simple structures with numerous windows, having blind walls at ground level as a protection against anti-machinery riots.

Arkwright derived his enormous fortune mainly from the unscrupulous exploitation of cheap labour, nonetheless he did have some sense of conscience as an employer, and between 1771 and 1776 he built a whole street (North Street) of three-storey terrace houses for his workers - the beginning of specially constructed industrial housing. The attic floors of the houses in Cromford had larger windows so that families of employees could make garments on looms at home.

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