“We’ve only got one shot at this here…”

On Thursday our brand new exhibition ‘A Lady of Letters‘ was installed, telling the story of Hannah Greg, wife of  Samuel Greg, and her influence over Quarry Bank Mill.

Hannah Greg in later life
Hannah Greg in later life

The exhibition was put together  by Learning and Interpretation Assistant Carrie-Anne Parkes to complement the release of  David Sekers’ new book “A Lady of Cotton: Hannah Greg, Mistress of Quarry Bank Mill“, who gave a talk about Hannah on Saturday.

'A Lady of Cotton' by David Sekers
‘A Lady of Cotton’ by David Sekers

Carrie-Anne used both David’s book and Quarry Bank’s archive material to put together the exhibition which includes objects from our collection.

Whilst the conception to the  installation of ‘A Lady of Letters‘ took just over a month, that doesn’t meant a lot of work hasn’t gone in to it! After Carrie-Anne had decided on the angle of interpretation of Hannah’s life, she had to think about the way in which the information would be presented to all you lovely visitors, and for this task she called upon the talents of Creation Design Solutions.

The old interpretation of the Greg Gallery
The old interpretation of the Greg Gallery

Once layouts and photographs and colour schemes had been chosen, the next task on the list was to prepare the exhibition space – cue paintbrushes and our resident comedy duo, Craig, our Premises Assistant, and Andy, our Engineering Assistant, plus a couple of interns and Jennifer, our Learning and Interpretation Officer.

The panels that would cause Craig and I some grief...
Replacing these panels would cause Craig and I some grief…

These guys spent a day last week dismantling the old interpretation panels about the Industrial Revolution and set to work giving the area a makeover. (For those of you who know the property well, the exhibition space I’m talking about is located at the end of the Greg Gallery, just after Hand Spinning and Weaving.)

After everything had a lick of paint, we had to wait for Creation to finish off creating the new panels which were delivered on Thursday, and so myself, Jennifer, Craig and Andy (and Carrie-Anne when she wasn’t touring with a school) set to work putting up the panels, (although in this heat we were dreaming of ice creams on the Mill Meadow).

Introducing Hannah...
Introducing Hannah…

Sounds like a simple enough task but we were putting most of the panels up with carpet tape of all materials, which was the stickiest tape I have ever come across in my life. Whilst Creation transferred the vinyl lettering onto the walls, and Andy and Jennifer drilled panels into place, Craig and I were left to stick up two panels which had to line up perfectly. Craig and I were slightly apprehensive about using the ridiculously sticky carpet tape, for as Craig put it before we put the panels up “We’ve only got one shot at this here Laura…”

Well after much consideration and faffing and measuring, we thought we’d put the first panel in exactly the right place only to discover it was a little over to the right… leaving Craig and I hurriedly trying to peel (I say peel it was more like heaving) the panel off the wall before anyone spotted our mistake. After much hauling we managed to get it back off and into the proper place so Craig and I could breathe a sigh of relief!

Lady of Letters Quarry Bank Mill Hannah Greg

Meanwhile in our “pod”, Collections and Archives Officer Ally and some of her dedicated volunteers were busy replacing the objects in our special conservation friendly display cabinets, which now contain some of Hannah’s letters, diaries, sermons she wrote for the apprentices, and her work ‘The Catechisms of Safety and Health’ amongst other fascinating objects.

Lady of Letter is already proving to be a popular exhibition
Lady of Letter is already proving to be a popular exhibition

Shortly after we finished tidying up, a family became the first ever visitors to the exhibition and they loved it. They were quickly joined by our General Manager, Eleanor, and she confirmed that the exhibition passed her high standards!

The exhibition is in place indefinitely for the time being, so make sure you come and find out all about Hannah (and admire our handiwork!). But if you can’t get to Quarry Bank you can learn about Hannah by purchasing David’s book!



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