Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Quarry Bank Mill

The ceiling stayed put overnight so we left for Quarry Bank Mill as planned this morning. 

This is the front of the Mill which you see as soon as you walk from the car park. It was built by Samuel Greg in 1784 on the outskirts of Styal in Cheshire. 
The countryside surrounding the mill is lovely and a million miles away from the grimy town mills that Lowry painted and most people imagine.

The mill is set out over 4 floors and there are lots of steps so it's not for the faint hearted. We thought it would be really quiet with it being mid-week but we were wrong. There were lots of people there although with the mill, the gardens, the apprentice house and the village to visit, we were all spaced out nicely and we had the mill pretty much to ourselves.

The thing I like about this place is that there are people there to demonstrate how it all works. The first person we came across was this man who was sat at an old fashioned spinning wheel, spinning his cotton and making a mighty fine job of it as well. He was really interesting to listen to and moved on to demonstrate the different manual machines that were invented over the years.
As the years went on and new ways of spinning and weaving were invented the machines obviously became a lot bigger and a lot noisier. Mum's parents both worked in a cotton mill and we were laughing because if you ever spoke to my Nanna while she wasn't wearing her glasses she'd say "hang on a minute, let me put my glasses on so I can hear you". I think she must have been lip reading what we were saying - a skill picked up by a lot of mill workers.
As you would expect the mill was all about machinery and cotton.

And this particular piece of equipment fascinated me. Hundreds of bobbins of cotton all being used at once to make fabric.

Mum can remember her Mum giving her these cotton reel tops to play hop-scotch with.

The machines were interesting but I really like the personal side of things so these boots and clogs lined up were right up my street, especially as you could pick them up. 

Although these cups that the workers wages were put into were kept safely under lock and key.

As was the Doctor's day book listing medicines and treatment prescribed to the apprentices. Samuel Greg was very progressive in his thinking and as well as educating the children he also hired a Doctor to look after them if they were ill. He was the first Doctor to be employed to do this, something that wasn't legally required until 1845. The mill Doctor was actually the father of the Royal Physician, Sir Henry Holland. 

By the time we'd walked around the mill we were ready for some lunch and a drink. The cafe was packed but we managed to find a space and I chose a very healthy goats cheese quiche with salad....no cake! 

Afterwards me and Mark went for a quick walk around part of the gardens.
 To get to them you have to walk around this lawned area where you can stop to play a game of croquet if you want to. The house is where Mr & Mrs Greg lived with their 13! children. 

Mum had done enough walking and stair climbing so we parked her on a bench for a bit of R&R. She's very camera shy so refused to have her photo taken.
The gardens are beautiful and big so we'll go back soon to have a proper walk around them.
 And to also visit the Apprentice House where the children lived. You can only look around here as part of a guided tour and we just didn't have enough time so we'll combine that with the gardens on our next visit.
With the clock ticking for school pick up we had a quick look around the gift shop where the Victorian i-pads certainly didn't come at a Victorian price.

Mum decided she would pass on the walk back up to the top where the car was parked and take the golf buggy instead, so I decided to join her and hopped on the back.

Just to keep her company obviously. I could have climbed those 60 steep steps back to the car park no problem. Honestly!



  1. what a gorgeous an amazing place .. now. I suspect that back in the day even with it's beautiful setting, it must have seemed a grim place to those working there. Especially the children :O(

    Have you watched A Woman of Substance (hasn't been shown on telly for years, but you can find it in instalments on You Tube)? Love the mill scenes there, gives a really good impression of how noisy and busy it would have been.

    Thanks for sharing. I really enjoyed the visit!

  2. You've said exactly what we were saying while we were walking around. Absolutely lovely to look around in this day and age but imagine the place 250 years ago, the conditions, the cold, the lack of food, the punishments and the gruelling work the workers and children had to face every day and it puts another perspective on it.

    I haven't seen a Woman of Substance but I'll check it out. Hoping to go back in a couple of weeks and do the apprentice house tour. xxx

  3. What a fascinating place to visit and a reminder just how very hard ordinary working people had to graft, day in, day out, from a very early age. It's always good to hear stories of benevolent owners. One of the iron and steel magnates locally and his wife did more then many to provide workers with access to things like parks and indoor recreation facilities. I do wish some of the old industrial sites here had been retained for educational purposes but we're demolition mad so hardly anything remains.

    1. It's like that where we live. There weren't many mills in Middleton but there were loads in Oldham, (according to Wiki 360 at one point). A lot have been demolished but a ffew of them are still standing and used as warehouses, craft centres, apartment conversions etc, but I don't think any have been preserved with machinery etc for historical value. Which is a real shame as the mills played a big part in working lives around here. xx

  4. I've been to the Apprentice house and it's really interesting, but I've never been to the Gregson House. Can you go inside it?

    1. No I don't think you can. Even if you are a member of the NT you have to go to the ticket office and get your tickets/passes and they only offered us the mill, the apprentice house and the gardens. xx

  5. We really enjoyed it Rachel. Would have liked to have spent longer wandering around the gardens but planning to do that again very soon. xx

  6. I used to go to Quarry bank with my then boyfriend - now husband more years ago than I care to admit. We had student NT memberships and would go on a Sunday afternoon and eat ice creams.

  7. What a lovely memory. We're hoping to get back there again this Tuesday and do the apprentice house tour. xx