Spinning mills used 'line shafting', which is the means by which the power of the steam engine is transmitted along rotating shafts (rods) to spinning or weaving mills.
This animation depicts a spinning mill like that found at Quarry Bank museum in Cheshire. It shows a furnace powering a flywheel, which is there to smooth out the otherwise jerky rotation of the crank.
In spinning mills, which could be multi-storey, there are large numbers of ropes coming off the flywheel. These 'rope races' convey power to the mill's different floors.