The Age of Machinery

February 2018
12 black and white, 1 line illustrations
337 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
People, Markets, Goods: Economies and Societies in History
Boydell Press
BISAC BUS023000, HIS037050, HIS015000

The Age of Machinery

Engineering the Industrial Revolution, 1770-1850

Gillian Cookson

eBook for Handhelds
An engagingly written account of textile engineering in its key northern centres, rich with historical narrative and analysis.
The engineers who built the first generations of modern textile machines, between 1770 and 1850, pushed at the boundaries of possibility. This book investigates these pioneering machine-makers, almost all working within textile communities in northern England, and the industry they created. It probes their origins and skills, the sources of their inspiration and impetus, and how it was possible to develop a high-tech, factory-centred, world-leading market in textile machinery virtually from scratch. The story of textile engineering defies classical assumptions about the driving forces behind the Industrial Revolution. The circumstances of its birth, and the personal affiliations at work during periods of exceptional creativity, suggest that the potential to accelerate economic growth could be found within social assets and craft skills. Appreciating textile engineering within its own time and context challenges views inherited from Victorian thinkers, who tended to ascribe to it features of the fully fledged industry they saw before them. The Age of Machinery is an engagingly written account of the trade in its key northern centres, devoid of jargon and yet tightly argued, equally rich with historical narrative and analysis. It will be invaluable not only to students and scholars of British economic history and the Industrial Revolution but also to social scientists looking at human agency and its contribution to economic growth and innovation.

GILLIAN COOKSON holds a DPhil in economic history and has been employed since 1995 in academic research and consultancy, including as county editor, Victoria County History of Durham.

Table of Contents

The Coming of Machinery
The Age of Machinery
Shaping an Industry
The Machine-makers
Ingenious Mechanics
The Social Life of the Engineer
Reaching Maturity
Appendix 1: Keighley textile engineers
Appendix 2: Leeds engineering businesses established before 1830
Appendix 3: Estimates of textile machinery at work in the United Kingdom, 1835-56


This is a rich, extremely well-researched and well-argued book that sheds valuable light on the evolution of textile machine technology during the British Industrial Revolution. JOURNAL OF BRITISH STUDIES

Cookson's account is dense and carefully argued, but it is also rich and engaging, addressing issues of fundamental significance for processes of technological advance and economic growth. Highly recommended. CHOICE

Also by Author

Also in Series

Related Titles