Machines on the move: Manchester goes European

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Loom from Parr, Curtis & Madeley

Machinery for spinning and weaving cotton were mostly made in Great Britain and exported to foreign countries.

Halvor Schou cooperated with different British machinery makers and building constructors while developing his textile mill about 1850. Among these was the civil engineer William Fairbairn. He was one of the first engineers to conduct systematic investigations of failures of structures. He tested iron girdles and glass constructions to avoid collapse of industrial buildings and bridges.

Another firm Schou cooperated with was John Hetherington & Sons that was engaged both in construction and planning of the mill and delivering of machinery. When the mill expanded, many looms were bought from the British firm Parr, Curtis and Madeley.

All of these collaborators worked in the Manchester area, which was the centre of the British cotton industry. But Halvor Schou was a widely-travelled man. He was educated in Lübeck (Germany), his father was Danish and his father-in-law English. It is assumed that he became interested in textile industry in the 1840s when he made a journey to Norrköping that was the main textile town in Sweden in the middle of the 19th century.

In 1851 and in 1862 Schou visited the world exhibitions in London, making contact with British producers.

How to cite this page


Tone Rasch, 'Machines on the move: Manchester goes European', Inventing Europe,


  1. Bruland, Kristine. British Technology and European Industrialization: the Norwegian Textile Industry in the Mid Nineteenth Century. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989.
  2. Grieg, Sigurd. Norsk tekstil, Vol. 1 & 2. Oslo: Johan Grundt Tanum, 1948-50.
  3. The life of Sir William Fairbairn, Bart: Partly Written by Himself, edited by William Pole. Devon: David & Charles reprints, 1970.

About this tour


Cotton cloth: moving know-how, workers and technology

When Norway began to build its mechanical industries in the middle of the 19th century, it also meant building new links within Europe. This was part of the broader spread of the Industrial Revolution throughout Europe. The textile industry was among the first to be built and with it came new machines, knowledge and people, mostly from Germany and Great Britain, into Norway.



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The Great Exhibition of 1851

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