Northrop 'Model T' Automatic Loom

Contributed by Blackburn Museum

British Northrop 'Model T' Automatic Loom for weaving cotton cloth.  © Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery

When first introduced into textile mills, Northrop automatic looms cut labour costs by half.One of Blackburn's most successful companies was the mighty British Northrop Loom Co. Ltd., established in 1902 to build textile looms designed by J. H. Northrop of Hopedale, USA. The Northrop Automatic Loom was a truly revolutionary machine. It used a rotating magazine to keep the shuttle constantly supplied with cotton thread and could be run 24 hours a day, stopping itself automatically if a thread broke. It changed the role of the weaver, who could now tend more looms - meaning fewer were employed in mills. New Northrop factories were built in Blackburn before and after WWI - by the 1950s Northrop employed over 3000 operatives, producing an average of 10,000 looms a year. These were exported across the globe and had a huge impact on developing third world economies. In fact, the worldwide success of the Northrop Automatic Loom contributed directly to the rapid post-war decline of Lancashire's own cotton industry.

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