We’ve been keeping fairly schtum these past few weeks about the fact that Channel 4 and Darlow Smithson Productions are back at Quarry Bank, filming series 2 of ‘The Mill’. It’s once more been a brilliant, hectic, surreal experience having them back , and on the days filming took place in the Mill Yard, all the staff and volunteers have had great fun bouncing along the rubber cobbles used to set dress the driveway.
It’s been fantastic watching the set and props departments transforming various areas of Quarry Bank, from the Mill Yard and the Mill Manager’s Office, to the Apprentice House and Styal Village. I experienced a bizarre moment whilst having a quick nosy around the Apprentice House when I stepped into the Treatment room to be greeted by all the ‘apprentice’ extras, keeping themselves amused on their mobile phones.
Perhaps the most remarkable feat the set department pulled off was the construction of a cottage on Styal Green, which acted as Daniel and Susannah Bate’s home for the series.The recreated cottage was built due to the logistics of the storyline. In the second series there is more interaction between the characters that live in the village and at times, the storyline requires them all to be communicating with each other from their doorsteps. This would have been very difficult to achieve with the linear layout of the cottages in the village, but by adding an extra dimension with a set build, the scenes worked.
Series 2 will see the return of several familiar faces, including Esther Price, Lucy Garner, Miriam Catterall, Daniel and Susannah Bate, and Hannah Greg. We’re also introduced to several brand new characters, including the Howlett family, (a historical family who came to Styal in 1835), led by headstrong father John, who clashes with his nephew Will Whittaker, an apprentice shoemaker (the historical Will Whittaker was born and raised in Styal, but was not related to the Howletts).
When you watch the second series you may notice that William Greg, (who’s back to run the Mill in his brother’s absence) looks a bit different, and you’d be right, as this series he is being played by Andrew Lee Potts. Management has a new face, and now that the Timperleys are gone, it’s the Windells who are in charge; James is the Mill Manager and his younger brother George is running the Apprentice House. There’s also Peter, who has arrived at the mill from the other side of the world. A former Greg slave, Peter is brought to England by Hannah Greg to speak of his experiences of slavery.
The second series covers the period 1838-1842 and once more explores the themes of workers’ social and political rights as the characters navigate their personal relationships.
Series 2 starts on Sunday 20th July at 8pm and the Series 2 Exhibition will be open from Thursday 17th July in the Mill.
Images by Derek Hatton and Alison Todhunter