Our History

From small beginnings to an industrial revolution, our history dates back to 1757 and is one of the cotton industry’s most historic and complete archives

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1757-1829

The first recorded cotton dealing in Liverpool was a newspaper advertisement for an auction of 28 bags of Jamaican cotton in 1759.

Over the next seven decades a series of technological and industrial developments revolutionised cotton production.

Liverpool enjoyed a physical proximity to the world centre of the industry – the Lancashire cotton towns. It also had well established trading links with the new powerhouse of raw cotton – the USA. As imports soared to the million-bale mark, Liverpool overtook London as the country’s leading cotton importer.

3 June 1757
The first recorded transaction of cotton dealing in Liverpool in the press appears
The full advertisement in the “Liverpool Chronicle and Marine Gazetter” ran as follows: “To be sold by auction at the…

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1764
James Hargreaves invents the Spinning Jenny.
Even after John Kay patented his Flying Shuttle in 1733, cotton production could not keep up with the demand for…

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1769
Richard Arkwright patents the Water-Frame
Arkwright’s interest in the spinning and carding machinery, which turned raw cotton into thread, led to his Water-Frame. It produced…

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1770
Joshua Holt becomes the first Liverpool Cotton Broker
The first people who engaged in brokering in cotton in Liverpool could not, strictly speaking, be called cotton brokers, as…

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1779
Samuel Crompton invents the Spinning Mule
Spinning MuleSo-called because it was hybrid of hargreaves’ Spinning Jenny and Awkwright’s Water-Frame, the Mule combined the best parts of…

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1783
James Watt and Matthew Boulton perfect their steam engine for use in factories
These machines, although a little slow to take off in the cotton industry (Manchester did not get one until 1879,…

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1785
A Good year for the cotton industry
This was the year that Richard Arkwright’s patents came into the public domain, making it cheaper to build and modify…

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1787
The first monthly "Prices Current" sheet is issued by Ewart and Ruston
At this stage, the prices of cotton were presented alongside those for a variety of other goods imported into Liverpool…

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1793
Eli Whitney invents the Cotton Gin
This was a mechanical device that mechanised the process of removing seeds from the cotton crop, which previously had been…

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1795
Liverpool overtakes London as the leading British cotton importer
Liverpool had actually overtaken London in the period 1790-1792, but London regained its primacy in 1793 and held it in…

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1802
Imports of American cotton exceed those from the West Indies for the first time
From this point onwards, the short staple American Uplands cotton would dominate cotton imported into Britain. In 1810, 246,759 bales…

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1805
The first Weekly Circular of cotton prices is published by Ewart and Ruston
With the growing importance of the rapidly-expanding cotton market came an equally expanding need for facts relating to prices, supplies,…

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7 March 1808
Traders move from the top of Castle Street to Exchange Flags
“Monday the 7th March, of that year, was a day of much importance in the commercial annals of Liverpool, as…

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c.1810
Robert Gill proposes buying cotton from sample
By this time, many inland cotton buyers, faced with the prospect of long journeys to Liverpool to inspect the ever-increasing…

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1823
Egyptian long staple cotton is imported into Liverpool for the first time
This cotton was of a quality that had not been seen in any quantity before, being only slightly shorter in…

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