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1712: Thomas Newcomen patents his atmospheric engine.

1732: Jethro Tull publishes details of innovations such as the seed drill and the horse-hoe.

1733: John Kay of Bury (1704-1779) patents the Flying Shuttle. Until this point, weaving has been a slow, laborious process and the width of a piece of cloth has been limited to the stretch of a man's arms. Now, cloth can be made wider and faster. Suddenly, there is a shortage of thread to keep the weavers busy, and this leads to a search for better ways of spinning.

1738: Lewis Paul and John Wyatt take out a patent for their drafting rollers and the flyer-and-bobbin system, enabling the production of finer, more even yarns.

1742: Wyatt and Paul open a mill in Birmingham utilising their new rollers. But it is not a success.

1743: Wyatt and Paul open a spinning factory in Northampton with five machines of 50 spindles. It runs until 1764.

1745: Bonnie Prince Charlie's rebellion. Scottish Jacobite army marches South led by the Young Pretender, collecting supporters in Manchester and reaching Derby before retreating North again.

1746: Battle of Culloden. The Pretender's army is beaten and he flees to the Isle of Skye.

1748: Lewis Paul and Daniel Bourn each take out a patent for a carding engine.

1751: Construction of the Sankey-St Helens Canal begins. This cut pre-dates the Duke of Bridgewater's canal by five years.

1754: John Kay invents an improved carding machine - another step in the process of mechanising the cotton industry.

1756: Start of Britain's Seven Years' War with France.

1759: Britain wins Battle of Quebec. Duke of Bridgewater begins construction of Bridgewater Canal from his coalmines at Worsley to Manchester. Coal will be brought from

underground by boat, with the canal crossing the Irwell-Mersey Navigation on an aqueduct at Barton and finishing at Castlefield. The canal will also link Manchester with the tidal Mersey at Runcorn. John Harrison builds the first successful marine chronometer.

1760: George III crowned King of England. Kay's eldest son, Robert, invents the drop box, allowing the use of three shuttles on one loom, each containing weft of a different colour.

1761: Bridgewater Canal reaches Manchester. Price of coal in the city is halved.

1762: Matthew Boulton opens his Soho engineering works in Birmingham.

1763: France cedes Canada to England. End of Seven Years' War.

1764: Thomas Highs of Leigh builds the first spinning jenny. Until this time, spinning has been a cottage industry, but now, one spinner can operate 16 spindles. The jenny is still small enough and cheap enough to be operated in a farmhouse, but it is the first real step towards mechanisation.

1767: Blackburn's James Hargreaves develops a spinning jenny, although his employer Robert Peel probably has much input. Thomas Highs builds a spinning machine that uses roller drafting, but Richard Arkwright (1732-1792) steals the idea.

1768: Blackburn rioters destroy spinning jennies being built by Hargreaves for Peel. Hargreaves flees to Nottingham and opens a spinning business.

1769: Arkwright patents the water frame, a development of Highs's invention, that requires concentration of labour in a mill - it is too big and power-hungry to be used in a cottage. Arkwright's roving frame and draw frame - also stolen ideas - follow by 1775, making possible a continuous cotton-spinning process powered by water, and thus leading the way to the factory system.

1770: Completion of Grand Trunk Canal, linking the Trent and Mersey. Birth of Beethoven.