Sir Richard Arkwright (1750-1768)

Richard Arkwright (1732-1792) Born in Preston was listed as a Clockmaker in Bolton and also Nottingham. During his time in Bolton Arkwright undertook various trades, from Barber Surgeon, a Peruke maker to a Publican and it’s likely his links to Clockmaking were to come from the connection with John Kay a Warrington based clockmaker who was working in Leigh when they met in 1767.

Richard Arkwright began his working life as an apprentice to a barber, quickly progressing to wig making and later owned a Peruke making business in Bolton, successfully developing a waterproof dye for wigs. In 1762 to 1764 Arkwright was the licenced owner of The Black Boy pub in Bolton.

Arkwright had already developed his successful hair-cutting and wig-making business at the site of the Three Crowns pub in Deansgate, Bolton by the time he became interested in cotton spinning.

Setting up also as a Barber Surgeon, Arkwright would have pulled teeth and conducted Bloodletting which was common practice at the time.

Arkwright eventually moved to 15 Churchgate in 1760, and remained there until 1768, where his presence is noted by a Plaque.

To hide from machine breakers he moved into Nottingham where he hid in the Woollen industry, and developed and patented his products.

Arkwright was eventually confronted by industrialists willing to challenge the monopoly that his patents gave him. Keen to see his interests protected, he took legal action against those using them without a licence. From 1781, he became involved in a series of trials regarding his various patents, which he tried rigorously to enforce. The trials drew Arkwright to London and he spent much of the last five years of his life living at 8 Adam Street, ideally situated close to the lawyers in the Inns of Court and the law courts at Westminster Hall. Within view of the house was the Society of Arts, the Secretary of which – Samuel More – was among those who spoke on Arkwright’s behalf at his lawsuits.

The trials continued until 1785 and the courts heard claims that Arkwright had stolen the idea for his spinning machine from others such as Kay. The cases were finally settled against Arkwright and his patents were set aside. Although Arkwright was unsuccessful in defending his patents, his business remained extremely lucrative and he made large profits in the 1770s and 1780s. He was knighted in 1786, and by the time of his death in 1792 he was an extremely wealthy man, unlike Bolton’s Samuel Crompton.

In evidence it was testified by John Kay, that he went to Arkwright “to make a clock for him”

There are no known examples of Arwright’s Clocks, if he ever actually made any.