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Technology in Australia 1788-1988Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering
Table of Contents

Chapter 5

I 1788 - State Of The Art In Textile Technology

II Australian Textiles - The Early Days

III Australian Textiles - The 20th Century

IV Australian Textiles - To Date

V Acknowledgements



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1788 - State Of The Art In Textile Technology (continued)

Having produced a cloth, there were still several further 'finishing' operations: washing or scouring to remove dirt and oils; 'burling', a hand-operation to remove knots and vegetable and other particles still in the cloth (this is still a hand-operation!); and, with woollens, 'fulling', a process designed to felt wool to increase its thickness to improve its feel and warmth. Fulling, in fact, was probably the first textile process to which motive-power was applied. By hand -and this was still being done in 1788 and much later -it was achieved by soaping the cloth and beating it in a damp state with heavy wooden hammers. The mechanised version consisted of wooden hammers or shafts -hinged to an upright post and worked by water-power -and hollow vessels known as stocks or fuller's pots, which held the cloth as it was pounded by the strokes of the hammers. To imitate the industry of man' essentially is what innovation in textiles was all about in the 18th Century, to do things faster and better, and, of course, this desire has continued to the present day, as we will see.

This description has concentrated on the new technology of that period, and an effort has been made to detail the principles of the processes, for subsequent descriptions will be largely concerned with major changes in these principles. It must also be remembered, of course, that the rate of penetration of technology in those days was many times slower than it is today. It should not be presumed, however, that the move from domestic production to factory happened overnight. As late as 1856 only about one-half of those engaged in the woollen industry in Yorkshire were employed in factories, and Australia was a microcosm of the home country, with much textile production carried out at home.

Thus, the technology used by first settlers was very much hand-oriented. Wool was carded by hand, spun on spinning wheels, and woven on looms similar to those developed by Kay.

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© 1988 Print Edition pages 261 - 262, Online Edition 2000
Published by Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, using the Web Academic Resource Publisher