Crompton & Knowles Loom Works

Crompton & Knowles was one of the largest manufacturers of looms in the United States. Thirty-year-old William Crompton arrived in the United States in 1836 and settled in Taunton, Massachusetts. He immediately began working for Crocker & Richmond where he invented a new loom capable of weaving complex patterns. He received patent number 491 in 1837 for his Fancy Power Loom. William returned to England for two years to acquire English patents for his invention. He then returned to the U.S. with his wife and son.

Phelps & Bickford of Worcester built his looms on contract until William was able to set up his own machine shop. He was building his own looms and making tools used by the industry by 1848. William’s son, George, was working for Colt in Connecticut. George returned to Worcester to renew his father’s patents where he formed a partnership with Merrill E Furbush. The partnership lasted until 1859 after which George continued on his own. After George died in 1886, his widow carried on the business.

L J Knowles & Company were electroplaters in Warren, Massachusetts. They became interested in looms through associates about 1843. L J and brother F B form L J Knowles & Brother to manufacturer looms. L J died in 1884 after which the company became the Knowles Loom Works. The company continued to expand after F B died in 1890. A merger took place with the Crompton Works in 1897 forming the Crompton & Knowles Loom Works. This company went on a buying spree and practically eliminated competition in the U.S.

The textile machine business began a rapid decline after WWII. The Althouse Chemical Company was acquired in 1954. Crompton & Knowles continued buying chemical companies becoming an important manufacturer of dyes, flavors, and fragrances. Consolidation in the chemical industry ended C & K as an independent company by 2005.

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