However the cotton industry was already established and growing in Bolton. It was a cottage industry at first but Richard Arkwright built the first industrial sized cotton mill in Derbyshire in 1771 the first version of the water frame having been produced in Leigh a few years previously, Samuel Crompton (1753-1827) produced the Spinning Mule in 1779 (before his death there were over 4 million mule spindles in the area compared with some hundreds of thousands of other spinning machines, but it is well documented how little benefit Crompton got from his design whereas Arkwright who exploited the inventiveness of others became a millionaire because of his entrepreneurial skills) and tenanted St Helena Mill (?), John Kay (?) had a mill in Bolton at this time.
A register of 1891 has 83 cotton mills in Bolton and Little Bolton and around another 40 within
5 miles, Westhoughton, Ainsworth, Little Lever etc. There were 18 in Daubhill and the nearest
part of Deane and about 10 more in Deane and Great Lever.
Raw cotton for the spinners had to come from the port of Liverpool and this was in the days of the horse and cart. The usual route was probably from Liverpool via St Helens, Parr, and Leigh to Bolton. Although a more direct route from St Helens to Bolton might have followed the present A58, it was probably the established spinning industry in Leigh which influenced the route. Roads were very poor and the industrialists, needing to get cotton and coal to the mills and the finished goods to the markets efficiently, needed improvements.
//There would have been an alternative route from Liverpool via the Mersey and Irwell navigation scheme (early 1700s) and the Runcorn extension of the Bridgewater canal (1776) then by road or by the Manchester, Bury and Bolton canal. The Manchester Ship Canal opened in January 1894 sixty years after the direct rail link between Bolton and Liverpool.//