Allegedly, Arkwright stole the secrets of the roller-spinning machine from Thomas Highs, of Leigh, and patented the machine himself in 1769, after moving to Nottingham.
After going into partnership with Nottingham silk
Many more mills followed, in Derbyshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire and Scotland, some built by Arkwright, others under licence from him and using his patent machinery.
Manufacturers who in-fringed his patents were prosecuted, but his taste for litigation rebounded on Arkwright in 1785, when the courts revoked his patents after hearing evidence that many of his inventions had been stolen from others.He had also deliberately confused the wording of his patents, too, to make them difficult to follow.
He was knighted and made Sheriff of Derbyshire, and when he died in 1792 he was worth about £200million ($400million) in modern terms. And despite the doubts, history continued to regard him as the "father of the factory system."
His son, Richard, moved out of cotton and into finance and became Britain's richest commoner.PLACES TO VISIT: Arkwright's first water-powered mill at Cromford, east of Matlock in Derbyshire, currently under restoration. Also, Masson Mill, nearby. A plaque marks the site of his barber shop in Churchgate, Bolton. EXTERNAL LINKS: The Arkwright Society, BBC biography. SEE ALSO: Thomas Highs, James Hargreaves, Samuel Crompton.