Friday, September 17, 2021

Derby and British Manufacturing

In Derwent Mill in Derby in the 1720s a mill was established to produce silk, adopting a method that had been used in Italy. It is suggested that Arkwright may well have taken his inspiration from this. It is perhaps yet another instance where methods were developed in an unseen collaboration between people of many nations and regions. Derwent Valley Mills are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and house an exhibition of making.

That may have been Derby's first mention in the history of British manufacturing, but much more was yet to come. Here is but one illustration.

Henry Royce had run an electrical and mechanical business since 1884, and in 1904 met Charles Rolls, an old Etonian car dealer. Royce had made a car powered by his two-cylinder engine, which greatly impressed Rolls. The two agreed that four models would be made under the Rolls-Royce brand and that Rolls would have the exclusive right to sell them. The car was revealed at the Paris Motor Show of 1904. The two men needed to find a factory in which to make them. Derby offered them cheap electricity, and so they selected the site at Sinfin Lane where a factory was built to Royce’s design. 

Field Marshall Montgomery's Rolls-Royce

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