Samuel Crompton, the son of a small farmer, was born in Firwood, near Bolton, in 1753. He set out to invent a spinning machine that would improve on the Spinning Jenny that had been produced by James Hargreaves.
In 1779 Crompton invented the spinning mule, which was a hybrid between the Spinning Jenny and the Water Frame. The mule produced a strong, fine and soft yarn which could be used in all kinds of textiles, but was particularly suited to the production of muslins.
Crompton was too poor to apply for a patent and so he sold the rights to a Bolton manufacturer. The first mules were hand-operated and could be used at home and by the 1790's, larger versions were built with almost 400 spindles. David Dale saw the potential of the mule and purchased several for his factory in New Lanark, Scotland.
The Spinning Mule could also be driven by the new steam engines that were invented by James Watt and Matthew Boulton. A large number of factory owners purchased Crompton's mules, but because he had sold the rights for his machine, he made no money from these sales.
Samuel Crompton died in poverty in Bolton in 1827.
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