Our Object Focus this week was chosen by our Museum Manager, Hannah and she has selected the iconic Spinning Jenny.
The Spinning Jenny is one of my favourite objects because of what it represents. The Jenny was designed by James Hargreaves around 1765 in Lancashire. The original design was later improved when Richard Arkwright invented the water-powered water frame. The first ‘mechanised’ Spinning machine, it changed the face of the woollen industry forever by taking spinning out of the hand and the home and into factories, where one man could do the work of nine. The Jenny vastly increased productivity as it was able to spin so much more wool than simple hand spinning could. This, and the introduction of other machine, would cause a lot of civil unrest leading to riots, such as the one that ended up with the execution of Thomas Helliker, the Trowbridge Martyr. Life in the cloth industry, the country, and in this town would never be the same again, and that’s an amazing thought when you are looking at the Jenny today. There are so few remaining Spinning Jenny’s left in the world, perhaps as few as five, which makes our Jenny so much more precious.