An accomplished musician, the young Crompton financed his experimental work by playing his home-made violin at Bolton Theatre for a few pence a show. The wood-and-iron contraption that was to change civilisation cost him "every shilling he had in the world."
But the moment he finished his work in 1779, machine-breaking riots erupted in the neighbourhood and young Crompton was forced to dismantle what was then known as the Hall i' th' Wood Wheel, or the Muslin Wheel, and hide the various parts in the closets and attics of Hall i' th' Wood, the half-timbered, Elizabethan mansion where he lived with his widowed mother Betty and his crippled uncle, Alexander Crompton.
Samuel was born on December 3rd, 1753 at 10, Firwood Fold - a farmhouse close to Hall i'th'Wood, which is preserved today as an ancient monument.
Samuel's father, George, had married Elizabeth Holt from the neighbouring village of Turton and besides Samuel, they had two youngster daughters.
George died at the early age of 37, but his widow still managed to provide the youngster with an education. and by a strange coincidence, the school of Mr Lever, where he attended classes under William Barlow, was in Church Street, Bolton, just 500 yards as the crow flies from the barber's shop of Richard Arkwright in Churchgate. What were the chances that the inventor of the spinning mule had his hair cut by the supposed inventor of the Water Frame?
Acccording to Charles Dickens, Elizabeth, or Betty, Crompton ruled her family with a rod of iron and Samuel's childhood was miserable.
"She cuffed, thrashed and maybe even swore at him with trenemdous zeal and energy," he wrote. "...she set her children to earn their bread betimes, and tied them down to the loom so soon as their little legs were long enough to work the treadles."
Treatment such as this to a somewhat sensitive child could explain Crompton's shy, retiring character that would cause him so many problems in adult life.