What is known to all as ‘textile technology’ was developed in the mid eighteen hundreds by Sir James looms. It was a great achievement as it allowed cotton production to increase greatly throughout the British textile industry. By the end of the nineteenth century, there were many different types of looms available for different textile purposes. Many of these involved a combination of silk and cotton, while others used only one or the other. By the start of the twentieth century, there were many textile products that used machines to create them, rather than hand-made items.
There are still many textile products being made that use either silk or cotton. The development of new synthetic fibres such as nylon has led to textile industries becoming much more advanced and profitable. Because new fibres can be mass produced much more quickly than hand-made products, this leads to improvements in speed and quantity. Some of the great improvements in textile technology that have taken place over the past century have seen the incorporation of machinery into textile factories, making production much more automated. Improvements in chemical processes and in heat treating enable greater quantities of fabric to be produced in a shorter period of time.
Much of this progress took place during the nineteenth century, but it did not happen overnight. Development was slow and occurred gradually. In some cases, textile products became so far advanced that they actually displaced traditional materials that previously serviced the textile industry. Examples of these include the adoption of cheaper synthetic fabrics and the widespread use of man made rubber in the manufacture of clothing.
The nineteenth century saw a number of major textile related advancements, but some of these were quickly followed by new technologies. One of these was the adoption of electricity into textile manufacturing processes. This marked the beginning of the industrial age. Much later, steam power began to replace chemicals and man made fibers in textile manufacturing. This marked a further advancement in what technology brought about advancements in the British textile industry.
A number of factors contributed to the start of this Industrial Revolution. One was the development of new materials that allowed textile manufacturers to create textiles at a much higher volume. Another was the development of new machines that could make textile products much faster. These two factors combined led to an explosion in the number of textile products manufactured in Britain and the ability of these manufacturers to produce a high volume of high quality clothing.
A further advancement in what technology brought about advancements in the British textile industry came about with the invention of the textile looms. The textile looms allowed for mass production of clothing at a much faster rate than before. This was made possible by advancements in the transportation of goods. By the end of the eighteenth century, the development of steamships and the development of the ocean liner had made possible the construction of massive clothing lines that dotted the country. Many of these lines were operated by workers that were paid in pieces or by pieces and then paid per yard of cloth that they produced.
With improvements in what technology brought about advancements in the British textile industry there was also an improvement in the general working conditions for workers in the textile industry. The loading docks of the textile industry were built to accommodate a much greater volume of heavier items than in previous years. Throughout the nineteenth century, the introduction of new machines such as the loom made it possible to create larger quantities of clothing in a shorter period of time. Additionally, the elimination of some of the more dangerous work methods such as scouring and bleaching gave rise to a significant reduction in the amount of worker compensation cases that arose in Britain. Additionally, during the middle of the twentieth century, new environmental laws were enacted to protect the British textile industry from what was termed “non-hazardous” textile materials. For these reasons, the British textile industry has become the largest in the world, employing millions of people worldwide.
Today, the textile industry continues to expand in all of its forms and yet the processes that were used over a hundred years ago are still in use today. What has changed over the years is the way that the industry works. Advances in the speed of production and the creation of lighter and stronger materials have resulted in much quicker developments in what technology brought about advancements in the British textile industry. Because of these advances, the industry continues to flourish and create jobs for millions of people around the world.