Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Lombe's Silk Mill

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After Thomas Cotchett was bankrupt in 1713, his silk mill at Derby was taken over by Thomas Lombe and his brother John.

Early pictures of Cotchett's mill indicate that it was the prototype for later multi-storey textile-spinning mills.

The Lombes built another mill with Italian machines alongside the first. They employed George Sorocold to build the new, larger mill. For Sorocold, who had previously been engaged with pumps and water wheels, this presented a number of challenges - the machinery contained 10,000 spindles, with 25,000 spinning reel bobbins, nearly 5000 star wheels, over 9000 twist bobbins and 46,000 winding bobbins, all to be driven by a single water wheel.

1722 The new mill was completed. John Lombe died in mysterious circumstances.

c.1739 After Thomas's death the building was sold to Samuel Lloyd and William Wilson, who continued to spin silk there. William Wilson, who became joint owner of these mills, wrote a description of them about 1739 in which he described Cotchett's section as still containing its double Dutch mills in complete working order, so perhaps Cotchett's failure was commercial rather than technical.

The building, later known as the Old Silk Mill, was rebuilt after a fire in 1826. Subsequently the doubling shop collapsed in 1890 and the original building was extensively reconstructed after a fire which occurred on 5 December 1910, two years after silk throwing ceased.

Lombe's Mill, extensively reconstructed is now the Derby Industrial Museum.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • Biography of Thomas Cotchett, ODNB