So last week’s post was all about why we think Quarry Bank is such a special place, but this week, we’ve been able to talk to residents of Styal Village, at our Quarry Bank roadshow event, to find out what Quarry Bank means to them.
We had several stalls running at this event. There was our Collections stall which was run by Ally, our Collections Assistant, Carrie-Ann, our Learning and Interpretation Assistant, and Fiona and Rubbia, two of our interns. At this stall we displayed some of our conservation equipment to demonstrate the great care we take of our objects, some of which are kindly donated from people all over the country. Villagers also had the opportunity to talk to Ally about getting involved in looking after our collection as a volunteer, and Ally found herself snowed under with requests!
We also had an Archive stall, which was run by Jane Speller our Archive and Collections Officer and Freya, a local volunteer, (who is also a descendant of one of the mill managers!). Jane and Freya displayed a wonderful collection of photographs and documents usually hidden away in the archive for people to peruse, as well as the chance to listen to some of our recorded oral histories, which really bring to life the history and experiences of those connected to Quarry Bank.
For instance, the villagers had the opportunity to listen to the oral testimony of Alice Brown, recorded in 1985. Alice was born in 1898 and became a weaver at the Mill in her late teens, and her father was an Overlooker. Alice recalled her time as a weaver, painting a colourful picture of a day in the life of the Mill workers:
“noise, noisy, couldn’t hear one another speak of course… when the mill was going, you couldn’t hear, it was very noisy, but they were a very friendly lot, very friendly people in those days. They’d give you a give you a helping hand… they had men cleaning the looms you see, what they call brushers, brushing the dust and stuff off the looms. … They used to come perhaps once or twice a week to brush the looms. 2 men came from Wilmslow to do that. ..it was noisy, terrible…dusty, mmm, dust. Dust in your hair… didn’t wear caps or anything like that.”
Jane, Freya, and our Project Curator Sophie had a really rewarding day as 15 of the villagers who came along have agreed to record their own oral histories of their time in the village, demonstrating the message of last weeks post; that Quarry Bank is for everyone from all walks of life. Jane emphasised the villager’s importance:
“These are all key people with long-standing connections to village, chapels (both) or mill. These fascinating histories will help us flesh out what facts we already know.”
Personally, and I know everyone else at Quarry Bank will agree, I can’t wait to hear the fascinating stories of the current residents of Styal Village and how they fit into the jigsaw of Quarry Bank’s history!