Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England

Quarry Bank Mill Part II


Mr Uphilldowndale took me out to lunch, for a celebratory sandwich and a piece of the National Trusts finest victoria sponge (he knows how to treat a gal! The reason for the celebration was the unveiling of a plaque, I’ve never been to a plaque unveiling before.

Quarry Bank Mill receives 61st Engineering Heritage Award

Quarry Bank Mill IMecE-1

Isobel Pollock, chair of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers’ Heritage Committee, said: “Not only is the Quarry Bank Mill a beautiful working example of the engineering technology that turned Britain into an industrial superpower, it also acts as a window into the North-West’s past.

“The work the mill’s staff and volunteers are doing in bringing the industrial revolution alive for today’s schoolchildren cannot be praised highly enough.”

Barry Cook, chief engineer at Quarry Bank, described the award as a “fantastic honour”, particularly as almost all of the team are volunteers.

“At Quarry Bank Mill we pride ourselves on making visits interesting and enjoyable for both adults and children, taking great pleasure in sharing the history of this fascinating Georgian mill which is still producing cotton today,” he said.

Mr Uhdd met lots of folk he hadn’t seen since he was fresh out of university and joined the real world, working for ICI back in the late 1970’s, after lunch we had time for a mooch around the mill, the last time I’d been there was when the boys were somewhat smaller and wanted to look at different things than I did.

The mill charts the history of weaving, from home weavers and their heirlooms*

Hand loom Quarry bank Mill-1

right through to the vast mills, that were key employers  in northern England right through until the 1970’s with working machinery that still produces cloth, I rather like the sound  and rhythm  of the looms, one or two at a time

Quarry Bank Mill looms-1

This I wouldn’t like, dangerous and noisy

Quarry Bank Mill looms 1-1

I’ll leave you with a few more shots, the sun is shinning here today, I’m going to go out and grab a fix of vitamin D!




Quarry Bank Mill looms 2-1

The word ‘heirloom’ comes from the tradition of the loom being handed down from father to son.

Author: uphilldowndale

Watching the rhythm of rural life, from the top of a hill in northern England. Having spent most of my life avoiding writing, I now need to do it! I am no domestic goddess, but if I were expecting visitors to my home, I would whisk round with the duster and plump up the cushions and generally make the place look presentable. I hope that by putting my words where others may see them it will encourage me to ‘tidy up and push the Hoover around’ my writing. On the other hand I may just be adding to the compost heap. Only time will tell! Pull up a chair, sit yourself down, I’ll put the kettle on.

10 thoughts on “Quarry Bank Mill Part II

  1. I had no idea about the origin of the word “heirloom” but am glad I know now!

  2. I think I prefer the “heirloom” to the mechanical loom. I admit to luddite tendencies. I hope the exhibits tell both sides of the story — of the 12-15 hour shifts pulled by children and young women, who were hired because their hands were small and could fit into the machinery better, and all the children who should have been in gradeschool but who instead became their families sole means of support working in the spinning mills spinning the cotton that was raised in America by slaves. Perhaps the worst disservice we can do our children is to sugar coat the past.

    • No, its not sugar coated WOL, lack of time prevented me from writing a much longer post; on the day we were at Quarry Bank, 250 school children were visiting on educational tours, that included the apprentice house

      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 and uncle of Elizabeth Gaskell, 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 workhouses. 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.

      There are many exhibits about the health risks of employees and of the slave trade. If I have one criticism of the National Trust in regard to Quarry Bank Mill it is that the website provides so very little historical information, other than to offer you the chance to purchase the guide book, on line before your visit. When I was looking to see what I could include in this post from the WWW, I was disappointed in the links that were available.

  3. Another snippet of information – Isobel Pollock is set to become the first female president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in May 2012. I believe she will be the first female president of any engineering institution in the UK. She has had my support (and vote) in this objective for many years, but it’s been a long time coming!

  4. I thought this was a fine post to begin with, and it just keeps getting better and better. Nothing like thoughtful commentary to enrich a good story–and nothing like a good story to encourage thoughtful commentary.

    I do a little weaving, and that last photo is both beautiful and terrifying to me. It’s a sort of weaver’s fantasy gone ballistic–which pretty much sums up Industrialization, doesn’t it?

    • I will return to posting about weaving in a little while Gerry, our trip to Quarry Bank made us think of a few more places to visit and share. And all work an no play, is not healthy way to go about the world; watch this space.

  5. I’ve visited Quarry Bank Mill plenty of times but somehow missed the fact that the apprentices were unpaid. Thanks for pointing that out. The National Trust have made the setting of the apprentice house rather idyllic, so maybe I was focussing on the lovely orchard and the pretty kitchen garden instead of the people who used to live by them.

  6. Very interesting post. Didn’t know the origin of the word ‘heirloom.’

  7. As a mechanical engineer such places have always fascinated me so reading this, and the previous, post and looking at the photos was most interesting. xx

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