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By the late 18th century, Perthshire had a well established textile industry. Linen was produced from locally grown flax, using water-powered machinery.
Around this time, British merchants began importing cotton, which could be spun into warm and strong textiles. In northern England, water-driven machines were being installed in large factories to process the ‘new’ fibre.
By 1785, a group of Perth merchants were eager to establish a cotton industry on the Tay. They persuaded the English textile baron Richard Arkwright to invest his money and expertise.