• Enlightenment science, technology and the industrial revolution: a case study of the Derby philosophers c1750-1820

      Elliott, Paul; University of Derby (Arkwright Society, Cromford, 2020-08-30)
      After briefly reviewing the historiography of Enlightenment science, industry and the Derby philosophers, this essay examines industry and science in eighteenth-century Derby and the industrial orientation of the philosophical societies. It then explores the relationship between the leading entrepreneurs and manufacturers Jedediah Strutt and Richard Arkwright and the ‘Derby Philosophers’, demonstrating how much they gained from their association with the Derby Philosophical Society. This is especially evident, as it demonstrates when we consider the case of Erasmus Darwin, first president of the Society, and how as a physician, avid mechanic and experimenter, he helped meld the worlds of Enlightenment science and industry. Likewise, whilst the struggles that Arkwright experienced over his patents during the 1780s has been often described, viewing these from the perspective of the Derby Philosophers adds a new dimension to our understanding of the relationship between scientific associations, industrial innovation and entrepreneurialism. The article concludes with a critical investigation of the role of the sciences in agriculture and domestic economy and the part played by the Derby Philosophers in promoting scientific education for what they believed to be the benefit of industry and manufactures.