Wright put him in touch with established businessmen Jedediah Strutt and Samuel Need, and the trio formed a business partnership. The newcomers financed the construction of the water-powered Cromford Mill on the River Derwent in Derbyshire, with Strutt and Need agreeing to take Arkwright's entire initial output of thread for their Nottingham stocking-knitting business.
Cromford was the start of a massive expansion of the cotton trade, and it was given a further boost in 1774 when Arkwright and his partners persuaded the Government to end the crippling import tariff on raw cotton, which had been imposed to protect the British woollen industry.
Arkwright was clearly the driving force and the visionary behind the consortium, even shrugging off the loss to fire-bombers of a brand-new mill at Birkacre in Chorley, Lancashire, in 1779.
When Need died in 1781, Strutt got cold feet and dissolved the partnership, nervous about Arkwright's ambitious plans to expand into Manchester and other areas, including Scotland, and possibly worried about the patent battles that were looming between Arkwright and men he claimed had pirated "his" inventions.
Strutt must have finished up kicking himself, for just seven years later, more than 140 water-frame mills were spread all over the country.
Some of them belonged to Arkwright alone, others were licensed to other industrialists. The Industrial Revolution had arrived.
Arkwright was not an inventive genius and the inescapable evidence is that he stole the intellectual property of Thomas Highs and others to make his fortune.
His forte was being able to spot a good idea, and employing men with the talent to turn that idea into reality. Arkwright was
HALF-HIDDEN behind the trees, the spy window in Arkwright's home, Rock House, overlooks Cromford mill. Workers lived in fear, imagining he was watching them even when he was hundreds of miles away.
The Court of King's Bench said as much in 1785 when they rescinded his patents. The court heard evidence from Highs, Kay, Kay's wife, and James Hargreaves's widow, Elizabeth, among others. All testified that Arkwright had, in fact, stolen the inventions on which he had based his fortune.