Quarry Bank Mill

Quarry Bank Mill

Overview

Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire
Cheshire
Cheshire is a ceremonial county in North West England. Cheshire's county town is the city of Chester, although its largest town is Warrington. Other major towns include Widnes, Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Runcorn, Macclesfield, Winsford, Northwich, and Wilmslow...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, is one of the best preserved textile mill
Cotton mill
A cotton mill is a factory that houses spinning and weaving machinery. Typically built between 1775 and 1930, mills spun cotton which was an important product during the Industrial Revolution....

s of the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

 and is now a museum of the cotton
Cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

 industry. It has been designated by English Heritage
English Heritage
English Heritage . is an executive non-departmental public body of the British Government sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport...

 as a Grade II* listed building.

The mill was founded by Samuel Greg in 1784 in the village of Styal
Styal
Styal is a village in Cheshire East, England. It is on the River Bollin, near to the town of Wilmslow.Styal is a commuter village, with access to Manchester. The village is dominated by Quarry Bank Mill and much of its housing is the mill's estate. The mill and the surrounding country park are...

 on the River Bollin
River Bollin
The River Bollin is a major tributary of the River Mersey in the north-west of England.It rises in Macclesfield Forest at the western end of the Peak District, and can be seen in spring form, from the Buxton to Macclesfield road. The stream then descends the through Macclesfield and Wilmslow where...

. Its original iron water wheel
Water wheel
A water wheel is a machine for converting the energy of free-flowing or falling water into useful forms of power. A water wheel consists of a large wooden or metal wheel, with a number of blades or buckets arranged on the outside rim forming the driving surface...

 was designed by Thomas Hewes and built between 1816 and 1820.
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Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire
Cheshire
Cheshire is a ceremonial county in North West England. Cheshire's county town is the city of Chester, although its largest town is Warrington. Other major towns include Widnes, Congleton, Crewe, Ellesmere Port, Runcorn, Macclesfield, Winsford, Northwich, and Wilmslow...

, England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

, is one of the best preserved textile mill
Cotton mill
A cotton mill is a factory that houses spinning and weaving machinery. Typically built between 1775 and 1930, mills spun cotton which was an important product during the Industrial Revolution....

s of the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, transportation, and technology had a profound effect on the social, economic and cultural conditions of the times...

 and is now a museum of the cotton
Cotton
Cotton is a soft, fluffy staple fiber that grows in a boll, or protective capsule, around the seeds of cotton plants of the genus Gossypium. The fiber is almost pure cellulose. The botanical purpose of cotton fiber is to aid in seed dispersal....

 industry. It has been designated by English Heritage
English Heritage
English Heritage . is an executive non-departmental public body of the British Government sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport...

 as a Grade II* listed building.

Water mill


The mill was founded by Samuel Greg in 1784 in the village of Styal
Styal
Styal is a village in Cheshire East, England. It is on the River Bollin, near to the town of Wilmslow.Styal is a commuter village, with access to Manchester. The village is dominated by Quarry Bank Mill and much of its housing is the mill's estate. The mill and the surrounding country park are...

 on the River Bollin
River Bollin
The River Bollin is a major tributary of the River Mersey in the north-west of England.It rises in Macclesfield Forest at the western end of the Peak District, and can be seen in spring form, from the Buxton to Macclesfield road. The stream then descends the through Macclesfield and Wilmslow where...

. Its original iron water wheel
Water wheel
A water wheel is a machine for converting the energy of free-flowing or falling water into useful forms of power. A water wheel consists of a large wooden or metal wheel, with a number of blades or buckets arranged on the outside rim forming the driving surface...

 was designed by Thomas Hewes and built between 1816 and 1820. The over head shafts above the machines were attached to the water wheel by a belt. When the water wheel turned, the motion moved the belt and powered the machine.

The Hewes wheel finally broke in 1904. After that the River Bollin continued to power the mill through two water turbines. When steam engines were being made, the mill owners in 1810 bought a Boulton and Watt steam engine and then a few years later purchased another. This is because water was a struggle to get in summer and brought production of cloth to a standstill during some years. Steam engines were consistent and produced power all year round. Today the Mill is home to the most powerful working waterwheel in Europe, an iron water wheel
Water wheel
A water wheel is a machine for converting the energy of free-flowing or falling water into useful forms of power. A water wheel consists of a large wooden or metal wheel, with a number of blades or buckets arranged on the outside rim forming the driving surface...

 which was originally at Glasshouses
Glasshouses
Glasshouses is a small village in Nidderdale, North Yorkshire, England. It lies about 1 mile south east of Pateley Bridge on the east side of Nidderdale and has a recently rebuilt river bridge across the river Nidd....

 Mill at Pateley Bridge
Pateley Bridge
Pateley Bridge is a small market town in Nidderdale in the Borough of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England, on the River Nidd.It has the oldest sweet shop in England and is the home of the Nidderdale Museum....

. This wheel was designed by Sir William Fairbairn, the Scottish engineer who had been an apprentice of Thomas Hewes.

The estate surrounding the mill, also developed by Greg, is the most complete and least altered factory colony of the Industrial Revolution. The estate and mill were donated to the National Trust
National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty
The National Trust for Places of Historic Interest or Natural Beauty, usually known as the National Trust, is a conservation organisation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland...

 in 1939 by Alexander Carlton Greg and are open to the public. The mill continued in commercial production until 1959.

The factory was founded for the spinning
Spinning (textiles)
Spinning is a major industry. It is part of the textile manufacturing process where three types of fibre are converted into yarn, then fabric, then textiles. The textiles are then fabricated into clothes or other artifacts. There are three industrial processes available to spin yarn, and a...

 of cotton and by Samuel Greg's retirement in 1832 was the largest such business in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

. The water-powered Georgian mill still produces cotton calico
Calico (fabric)
Calico is a plain-woven textile made from unbleached, and often not fully processed, cotton. It may contain unseparated husk parts, for example. The fabric is less coarse and thick than canvas or denim, but owing to its unfinished and undyed appearance, it is still very cheap. Originally from the...

. After Samuel Greg died in 1834 his son, Robert Hyde Greg
Robert Hyde Greg
Robert Hyde Greg , was an English industrialist, economist and antiquary.Born in Manchester, the son of Samuel Greg, the creator of Quarry Bank Mill, he was brother to William Rathbone Greg and the junior Samuel Greg. His mother, Hannah, was a descendant of Philip Henry...

 took over the business and soon took the decision to introduce weaving
Weaving
Weaving is a method of fabric production in which two distinct sets of yarns or threads are interlaced at right angles to form a fabric or cloth. The other methods are knitting, lace making and felting. The longitudinal threads are called the warp and the lateral threads are the weft or filling...

 at the mill.

Originally Samuel Greg converted farm buildings in the nearby village of Styal to house the workers for the mill. As the mill increased in size, purpose-built housing in Styal was constructed for the workers. The village is still a thriving community.

Child labour


Quarry Bank Mill is notable for its use of unpaid child apprentices, a system that continued until 1847, with the last child to be indentured starting work in 1841. Greg employed Peter Holland, father of the Royal Physician Sir Henry Holland, 1st Baronet
Sir Henry Holland, 1st Baronet
Sir Henry Holland, 1st Baronet FRS, DCL , was a British physician and travel writer.-Private Life:Born in Knutsford, Cheshire, Holland was the son of the physician Peter Holland and his wife Mary Willets. Peter's sister Elizabeth was the mother of the novelist Elizabeth Gaskell, and Mary was the...

 and uncle of Elizabeth Gaskell
Elizabeth Gaskell
Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell, née Stevenson , often referred to simply as Mrs Gaskell, was a British novelist and short story writer during the Victorian era...

, as mill doctor. Holland was responsible for the health of the children and other workers, and was the first doctor to be employed in such a capacity. The children lived in a separate building near the factory called the Apprentice House. Most children came from workhouse
Workhouse
In England and Wales a workhouse, colloquially known as a spike, was a place where those unable to support themselves were offered accommodation and employment...

s. They would work long days with schoolwork and gardening after coming back from the mill. The work could sometimes be dangerous, with fingers being occasionally lost. However, most children were willing to work in the mill because life at a workhouse would be worse. Today the Apprentice House is open to the public with timed tours being conducted by costumed interpreters.

Greg Family


The Greg family were Unitarians
Unitarianism
Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement, named for its understanding of God as one person, in direct contrast to Trinitarianism which defines God as three persons coexisting consubstantially as one in being....

 and built Norcliffe Chapel in Styal village. Their non-conformist religious beliefs provided the Gregs with important business contacts as many of the major Manchester
Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

 Industrialists were Unitarian. Methodist workers at the mill later sought a place of worship, and the Gregs converted a grain store in Styal village into a Chapel for their use.

The Greg Family also had mills and the Escowbeck
Escowbeck
Escowbeck House a country manor house on Caton Lane in Quernmore near Lancaster, Lancashire was constructed in 1842 in extensive parkland and countryside. It is situated overlooking the Crook of Lune south of the road from Lancaster to Caton and Hornby, near where the Escow Beck from which it takes...

 Estate, in Caton
Caton, Lancashire
The civil parish of Caton with Littledale is situated in Lancashire, England near the River Lune. The parish lies within the Forest of Bowland Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and contains the villages of Caton, Brookhouse, Caton Green, Littledale and Townend.-History:The original settlement of...

, near Lancaster
Lancaster, Lancashire
Lancaster is the county town of Lancashire, England. It is situated on the River Lune and has a population of 45,952. Lancaster is a constituent settlement of the wider City of Lancaster, local government district which has a population of 133,914 and encompasses several outlying towns, including...

, where they also had their own observatory built.

As well as owning mills in England, the Gregs also owned sugar plantations on the West Indian island of Dominica; their ownership included, until the abolition of slavery in British colonies in 1838, several hundred enslaved Africans.

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