Change in Production from Fustians to Cotton
The first cotton based cloths to be produced in Lancashire were fustians, which were cloths with a linen warp and a cotton weft. These were being produced from the early 17th century. Flax drying to produce linen had been carried out in Liverpool since at least 1540, as an order forbidding the drying of flax inside houses because of the risk of fire was made in that year. By the late 16th century linen production centred on Manchester had spread to Blackburn, Burnley, Preston and Oldham. The growing demand for linen warp for the expanding cotton industry boosted production.
Although production of fustians was soon more important than linen, linen was still being woven in the 1720s in Warrington. Fustians enjoyed a period of great demand until imported cotton goods from the Indian subcontinent began to be popular with the more affluent and those who sought to emulate them. Fustians had a resurgence when acts were passed banning cotton imports which were damaging the woollen and silk industries. Also fustians' linen warp was stronger than cotton warp. The invention of Arkwright's water frame made the spinning of strong cotton warps possible and that plus the superior quality and versatility of cotton meant that by the beginning of the 19th century fustian production was in decline.