“C’mon, I’ll show you the Dungeon next!”

Now I know what you’re thinking – what is a Mill doing with a dungeon? Well yesterday I received a  nooks and crannies tour of the Mill with our Premises Assistant Craig (from the carpet tape incident). After asking very nicely with sugar on top Craig took me to some of the rooms in the Mill that no one ever gets to see!

The Sewing Room
The Sewing Room

First stop was the room right at the top of the Mill; the Sewing Room. This was probably originally housed spinning mules. But in more recent years, when it became known as the Sewing Room, it was home to the noise of a dozen sewing machines creating shirts, tablecloths and more from the cloth made on our heritage looms. Craig told me that the lovely ladies who used to work up there would very kindly sort you out with a pair of curtains if you asked nicely enough!

Sadly the Sewing Room is no longer used
Sadly the Sewing Room is no longer used

Then I was taken to what is affectionately known as the ‘dungeon’ (alright you got me – it’s not a real dungeon) which is the site of the original headrace (the watercourse that fed water to the original wooden wheel). The hole that you see in the picture is in fact a tunnel that apparently leads all the way up to the car park! Craig told me that his partner in crime, Andy our Engineering Assistant has actually climbed all the way up the tunnel!

The mouth of the headrace
The mouth of the headrace

This is also one of the oldest parts of the Mill and above the Dungeon is where we believe that Samuel Greg’s office used to be.

The site of the orginal wheelpit
The site of the original wheelpit

Next I was shown the ‘bunker’ which houses the massive Byworth Boiler which actually powers our steam engines and keeps us all warm in the winter.

'The Bunker'
‘The Bunker’

Craig explained that every year when they check the pressure relief valve on the boiler they open the doors pictured below and about 30ft of steam shoots up into the air!

I can't quite imagine 30ft of steam coming out of here!
I can’t quite imagine 30ft of steam coming out of here!

Finally I got to see the clock tower, where for over a hundred years now the workers of Quarry Bank have been writing their names on the walls (including me!) Every Monday and Thursday the clock is wound up again, bringing two massive weights back up to the top floor, which slowly drop over the week, powering the clock mechanism.

The clock mechanism
The clock mechanism
Some of the checks made by the former engineers of the Mill
Some of the checks made by the former engineers of the Mill

Many moons ago according to Craig on of the cables attached to the weights snapped and it dropped through four floors into the Switch Room into the basement smashing the concrete floor at the bottom, leading to a lot of “effing and jeffing” as Craig put it. Andy and Craig have now fixed in a massive metal plate to prevent it from happening again, should the cable ever snap.

Thankfully the weight missed our important electrical equipment!
Thankfully the weight missed our important electrical equipment!

There are so many other parts of Quarry Bank that remain hidden but you can help us open them up by donating to our appeal. One day you will be able to have a nosy around a worker’s cottage in Styal Village and explore the archive in Quarry Bank House, where the Gregs lived!

http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/quarry-bank-mill/donate-now/

Laura

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