Well 2013 is already well underway, but amidst all this slush and snow I can’t help but long for summer to arrive! My mind keeps being drawn back to last summer, and what a summer we had! Sportsmen and royals, volunteers and paralympic heroes; the nation was buzzing.
If you were to ask what image summed up 2012 for me though, it would be the image of Kenneth Branagh dressed to the nines as the celebrated engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, looking on in awe at the monolithic chimneys which had sprung out of England’s green and pleasant land to herald the birth of modernity as we know it and the arrival of the Industrial Revolution…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QL_uG2GSZo
In 1783, standing on the banks of the River Bollin, mere miles away from Manchester, which was quickly to become the epicentre of the Industrial Revolution, as well as the hub of the world’s cotton industry, Samuel Greg had a vision, (much like Kenneth/Isambard at the Olympics!). He saw the potential power and profit he could unleash by harnessing the awesome flow of the Bollin and in 1784, he built Quarry Bank Mill on its banks.
As the most complete survival of a designed Industrial Revolution community, Quarry Bank is so much more than the wonderfully preserved Mill. As the Greg’s business expanded, so too did the Mill’s community, which grew to include Styal village, (with its school, shop and chapel, established by Samuel Greg to house his expanding workforce), the Apprentice House, home to the pauper children who worked at the Mill, and Quarry Bank House and Gardens,where Samuel and his family lived in the early 1800s.
Each part of Quarry Bank is bursting with stories of people from all the different sections of the community, and as such continue to resonate with people today from all walks of life. We want to tell the tales of the experiences of all these backgrounds; of the pauper children who missed their families so much they ran away, of the workers and the conditions they laboured in before returning to their cottages in the village, to the Gregs themselves, living a stones throw away from the clatter and hiss of the machines, able to wander around the beautiful tranquility of their gardens. It is these sites and stories, complementing and intertwining with each other, that make Quarry Bank a truly special place.
Today, visitors can travel through time and witness the technological advances wrought by the rise of industry in the Mill, empathise with the living conditions of the pauper children at the Apprentice House and take refuge from the noises and smells of the profit creating machinery in Quarry Bank Gardens and the Northern and Southern Woods, part of the Styal Estate.
But we want you to be able to enjoy so much more. We want to tie all the threads of Quarry Bank together and reveal and share as many of these experiences as possible with you, and preserve them for generations to come. To do so we have a plan, and something incredibly exciting is happening here at Quarry Bank, something which you can already be a part of…