IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Diverse Paths to Factory Production, 1780s-1840s: the Woollen Cloth Industry in the West Riding of Yorkshire and in the West of the Rhineland (Prussian Rhineprovince)


  • Alfred Reckendrees

    (Department of Economic and Social History, Cologne University Germany)


This paper compares the industrial development of the two leading British and German woollen cloth regions in the late 18th and the beginning of the 19th century. It focuses on the implementation of the industrial capitalism’s paradigmatic new system of production, the factory system. At the stage of the “Industrial Revolution” the West Riding of Yorkshire and the west of the Rhineland (Prussian Rhine-Province; an industrial district marked by the cities of Aix-la-Chapelle, Düren, Montjoie, and Eupen) had become the predominant industrial woollen cloth regions of their countries. The West Riding was much larger than its German counterpart and its figures of production were, of course, much higher. Both regions pioneered however the mechanisation of the national cloth industries – considered that there was no German nation-state before 1871. The industrialists of the West Riding introduced spinning and carding machinery about 25 years earlier than the clothiers in the west of the Rhineland. However, about 1830 the scope of the typical factory had become comparable. The industry of the British region was much larger than the cloth industry of the Rhenish region, but the Rhenish factories acquired a comparable range of mechanical production and achieved even a higher degree of vertical integration. Large Rhenish clothiers producing in centralised factories increasingly exploited power machines that operated nearly all kinds of textile machines, nevertheless the looms were still operated by hand. The weavers were mostly centralised into factory workshops, but there was still a remarkable domestic production. Yet this domestic production as well as the artisan production was affiliated to the factory system. As a result of the rapid improvements in the west of the Rhineland, the two regional industries competed seriously on the cloth markets of the world. The implementation of the factory system in the two regions followed different lines that are analysed in this paper. The differences are explained by the structure of the respective traditional system of cloth production and by different types of products, the similarities are explained by production costs and changing market conditions.

Suggested Citation

  • Alfred Reckendrees, 2006. "Diverse Paths to Factory Production, 1780s-1840s: the Woollen Cloth Industry in the West Riding of Yorkshire and in the West of the Rhineland (Prussian Rhineprovince)," Cologne Economic History papers 01-2006, University of Cologne, Department of Economic and Business History.
  • Handle: RePEc:wso:wpaper:01-2006

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    File Function: First version, 2006
    Download Restriction: no

    More about this item


    Rhineland; Prussian Rhineprovince; West Riding; Yorkshire; Woollen Cloth Industry;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • N63 - Economic History - - Manufacturing and Construction - - - Europe: Pre-1913
    • N90 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - General, International, or Comparative


    This item is featured on the following reading lists, Wikipedia, or ReplicationWiki pages:
    1. Industrial Sociology (FCT-UNL)


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wso:wpaper:01-2006. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: Johannes Press (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.