Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Quarry Bank Mill

Samuel Greg came from Belfast to build his mill.

Quarry Bank Mill in Styal.
The Northwest of England is known as the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.  There were many different mills, harnessing the readily available water power from the many rivers.  Quarry Bank Mill, now a National Trust property, was built by Samuel Gregs in 1784 to make glass cloth from cotton.  They first used pauper children, who were housed in the Apprentice House during their indentureship, which lasted until they were either 18 or 21.  Children as young as 9 lived and worked here, 13 hour days, 6 days a week.  On Sundays, they went to church and attended school, as all were taught to read and write. According to historical reports, some written by the children themselves, the Gregs treated them well, for the times.  In hindsight, it resembles slavery, but with a time limit.

More modern machinery than the children worked on.

The weaving machines in action.  The cloth is sold in the gift shop.

Making the cotton into thread, 500 spools at a time.

After laws were enacted in the 1830's, using children became less profitable, so Styal village was built to house hired mill workers and their families.  These were better living conditions than in the cities, as each family had their own latrine, instead of sharing with 100 others.

The inside of the most powerful water wheel in Europe. This is not the original wheel used at the mill, but one brought in from another mill.  The diameter of the wheel is 24 ft with a width of 22 ft. 

The machinery that keeps the wheel turning.

The machinery still is in working condition, used to make cloth which is sold in the gift shop.  The docents were very willing to turn them on so we could watch.  Some of them, such as the one which turned large spools of cotton into fine thread, were fascinating to watch.

The river Styal which provides the energy to move the wheel.  Keeping up with the times, the National Trust is building a power station on the river as well as a fish ladder.

There is a garden, built in an old Quarry Bank, hence the name, that had elegant planting, while the garden at the top of the bank was used to grow most of the produce needed for the Greg family.  The stone from the quarry is a red limestone.

The red limestone in the Quarry Bank. 
There is a new production on the BBC, The Mill, which was filmed at Quarry Bank Mill.  It is the story the mill during the time children were used.  There has been a bit of creative license, but having seen part of it, I would recommend it if it comes to PBS.

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