Monday, February 3, 2014

Spy History: Business Espionage in the 18th Century

UK - Derby and Derbyshire have been known for cutting-edge technology since the early 18th century.

ESPIONAGE was the murky business that kick-started Britain's industrial revolution and made Derby the world's first industrial town.

In the 17th and the first couple of decades of the 18th century, silk woven in Derby could not compete with Italian rivals.

John Lombe traveled to Piedmont (Italy) to find out how the fine-quality silk there was spun.
He made drawings of Italian machinery and smuggled them back to the UK to patent kit that would wind, spin and twist silk.

On his return to England, he arranged for engineer George Sorocold to construct a five-story factory to be powered by water from the Derwent.

Lombe's Mill, viewed across the River Derwent, 18th century.
It was the first operation of its kind in the country and has a strong claim to be the world's first successful use of the factory system. (more)

...and then...

Samuel Slater, an early English-American industrialist known as the "Father of the American Industrial Revolution", the "Father of the American Factory System" and "Slater the Traitor" (in the UK) ...because he brought British textile technology to America with a few modifications fit for America. 

He learned textile machinery as an apprentice to a pioneer in the British industry.

He brought the knowledge to America where he designed the first textile mills, went into business for himself and grew wealthy.

By the end of Slater's life he owned thirteen spinning mills and had established tenant farms and towns around his textile mills such as Slatersville, Rhode Island.
Guess where Sam was born...

Derbyshire, England June 9, 1768. (more)