Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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James Douglas (France)

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1802 James Douglas, originally from the Manchester area, was encouraged by the French goverment to establish a factory to manufacture textile machinery. During the continuation of the Napoleonic wars he was allowed to employ British prisoners of war. The machines he produced belonged to the government, and were distributed to factories throughout France to encourage mechanisation.[1]

One French source[2] compares the contribution of three British immigrants to the early mechanisation of the textile industry in France, namely William Cockerill, James Hodson, and James Douglas. Douglas enjoyed the protection of senior officials and scientists, and had his machinery and processes widely adopted through official promotion and subsidies. He also tried to obtain a monopoly for the manufacture of textile machinery for wool. As a result, the machines were expensive and perhaps 'not the best vehicle for technical progress'. Douglas began manufacture in 1802-1803. Earlier, in 1799, William Cockerill in Verviers (Belgium) had started to introduce his designs of carding and spinning machines. Later, in 1807, Hodson sttled in Liege and provided competition. Cockerill's and Hodson's machines were superior to those of Douglas. Cockerill did not benefit from official support, but his machines were moderately priced and technically superior, and soon eclipsed those of Douglas.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] 'From Artisan to Worker: Guilds, the French State, and the Organization of Labor, 1776-1821' by Michael P. Fitzsimmons, Cambridge University Press, 2010
  2. [2] L’industrie de la laine, L’apport des techniciens anglais, by Louis Bergeron