Q.3:- Imagine that you have been asked to write an article for an encyclopedia on Britain and the history of cotton. Write your piece using information from the entire chapter.
The following inventions in 18th century England (given in chronological order) are important milestones in the history of cotton
(i) James Hargreaves invented the ‘Spinning Jenny’ in 1964. This speeded up spinning work significantly.
(ii) John Key invented the ‘Flying Shuttle’ in 1769, which speeded up the weaving process.
(iii) Richard Arkwright improved the ‘Spinning Jenny’ in 1769 so that it could be run by water power. He called it the ‘Water Frame’.
(iv) In 1776, Samuel Crompton invented the ‘Mule’, which combined the advantages of both the ‘Water Frame’ and the ‘Spinning Jenny’.
(v) In 1785, Edmund Cartwright invented the power loom, which used steam power for both spinning and weaving.
(vi) Eli Whitney (in the USA) invented the ‘Cotton Gin’ in 1793, which solved the problem of removing seeds from the cotton fibres. This could separate the seeds from the fibers 300 times faster than by hand.
Later on, Arkwright created a complete cotton mill where all the textile manufacturing process could be completed under one roof and management.
The use of steam power played a very significant role in running cotton mills. Production of textiles increased in a very short time and with less manual labour. At the beginning of the 19th century, there were near about 321 steam engines in England and out of them 80 were in use in cotton textile mills.
The East India Company appointed Gomasthas, a paid servants of the company to supervise weavers, collect supplies and judge and inspect the quality of textiles. Gomasthas were the link between the East India Company and the weavers. The company arranged loans to the weavers to purchase raw material for weaving the cloth. Borrowers were compelled to sell their products to the company and not to any other private trader. Through this, the weavers were exploited by the English merchants. The Indian weavers could not compete and so by the beginning of the 19th century textile will the cheap and durable textiles from Manchester (England) export from India declined. Cotton weavers of India had to face two problems simultaneously; the export market collapsed and the local market shrank.
In the 1860s weavers faced a new problem of insufficient supply of raw cotton from USA due to the American Civil War. The price of raw cotton increased rapidly due to the big demand of raw cotton export from India. Weavers found themselves unable to pay for it.
After the First World War, Manchester could never capture again its old position in the Indian market. Britain could not match with the USA, Germany and Japan in reference of modernization and competition, As a result, production of cotton collapsed and export of cotton textiles from England fell down badly.