Quarry Bank Mill
|Engine maker||Boulton & Watt|
|Diameter/ width of water wheel||32 feet (9.8 m)21 feet (6.4 m)|
Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire, England, is one of the best preserved textile mills of the Industrial Revolution and is now a museum of the cotton industry. It is designated by English Heritage as a Grade II* listed building, and inspired the 2013 television series The Mill.
Quarry Bank Mill is on the outskirts of the village of Styal in Cheshire, abutting and to the south of Manchester Airport. Samuel Greg leased the land of Quarrell hole, on Pownall Fee from Lord Stamford, who imposed a condition that none of the surrounding trees should be pruned, felled or lopped maintaining the woodland character of the area. The mill was on the River Bollin, which provised the water power for the mill and close to the Bridgewater Canal that was essential for transporting the cotton from the port of Liverpool. The land consisted of three farms or folds which provided few potential workers, and little accommodation.
The mill was founded by Samuel Greg in 1784 in the village of Styal on the River Bollin. Its great iron water wheel, the fourth in the mill, was designed by Thomas Hewes and built between 1816 and 1820 which is the biggest water wheel in Europe. The over head shafts above the machines were attached to the water wheel by a belt. When the water wheel turned, the motion moved the belt and powered the machine.
The factory was founded for the spinning of cotton and by Samuel Greg's retirement in 1832 was the largest such business in the United Kingdom. The water-powered Georgian mill still produces cotton calico. After Samuel Greg died in 1834 his son, Robert Hyde Greg took over the business and soon took the decision to introduce weaving at the mill.
The Hewes wheel finally broke in 1904. After that the River Bollin continued to power the mill through two water turbines. When steam engines were being made, the mill owners in 1810 bought a Boulton and Watt steam engine and then a few years later purchased another. This is because water was a struggle to get in summer and brought production of cloth to a standstill during some years. Steam engines were consistent and produced power all year round. Today the Mill is home to the most powerful working waterwheel in Europe, an iron water wheel which was originally at Glasshouses Mill at Pateley Bridge. This wheel was designed by Sir William Fairbairn, the Scottish engineer who had been an apprentice of Thomas Hewes.
The estate surrounding the mill, also developed by Greg, is the most complete and least altered factory colony of the Industrial Revolution. Originally Greg converted farm buildings in the nearby village of Styal to house the workers for the mill. As the mill increased in size, purpose-built housing in Styal was constructed for the workers. The village is still a thriving community.
The estate and mill were donated to the National Trust in 1939 by Alexander Carlton Greg and are open to the public. The mill continued in commercial production until 1959. In 2006 the National Trust acquired Quarry Bank House and Gardens and, in 2010, the Gardener's House and Upper Gardens. As 2013, the mill receives 130,000 annual visitors. In 2013, the Trust launched an appeal to raise £1.4 million for a project to restore estate buildings, including a worker's cottage, a shop and the Greg family's glasshouses. The project also encompasses digitising records about the Greg family and the mill workers.
This is an outstanding example of an early, rural, cotton-spinning mill that was initially dependant on water power. The first mill was built by Samuel Greg and John Massey in 1784. It was a four storey mill measuring 8.5 metres (28 ft) by 27.5 metres (90 ft), with attached staircase, counting house and storage. It was designed to use water frames which had just come out of patent, and the increase supply of cotton caused by the cessation of the American War. The Water wheel was to the north end of the mill. The mill was extended in 1796: it was doubled in length and a fifth floor was added. A second wheel was built at the southern end of the mill. Again in 1817-20 the mill was extended with the mansard roofed wing extending part of the 1796 building forward. It was beneath this building that the great wheel is installed. The new building kept the 1784 detailing with respect to line and windows. The 1784 mill ran 2425 spindles, after 1805 with the new wheel it ran 3452 spindles. The weaving sheds added in 1838 were of two and four storeys. They housed 305 looms.
The first wheel was a wooded overshot wheel taking water by means of a long leat from upstream on the River Bollin. The second wheel in 1801 was built by Peter Ewart who was retained from 1796. It was wooden. To get the increase power he dammed the Bollin and took water into the mill directly, the tail race leaving into the river below the dam. The third wheel in 1807 was a replacement of one of the wooden wheels. It is believed to be an early suspension wheel, 8 metres (26 ft) in diameter from iron, designed by Thomas Hewes.
The fourth wheel was the 'Great Wheel' was also designed by Thomas Hewes. The technical challenge was to increase the head of water acting on the wheel while using the same volume. This is achieved by sinking the wheel pit to below the level of the river and taking the tail race through a tunnel a kilometre downstream to rejoin the Bollin at Giant's Castle. This gives a head of 32 feet (9.8 m), which acts on the 32 feet (9.8 m) diameter suspension wheel- which is 21 feet (6.4 m) wide. The great wheel operated continuously from 1818 to 1871 when the mill pool had silted up, and then to 1904.
- Steam Power
Water flow from the Bollin was unreliable so an auxiliary steam engine was procured in 1810. This was a 10 hp beam engine from Boulton and Watt. In 1836 with the advent of the looms a further 20 hp Boulton and Watt beam engine was acquired. The first horizontal condensing engine was acquired in 1871. A new engine house was built, then in 1906 the 1871 engine was replaced by a second hand 60 hp engine.
Quarry Bank Mill employed unpaid child apprentices, a system that continued until 1847, with the last child to be indentured starting work in 1841. Greg employed Peter Holland, father of the Royal Physician Sir Henry Holland, 1st Baronet and uncle of Elizabeth Gaskell, as mill doctor. Holland was responsible for the health of the children and other workers, and was the first doctor to be employed in such a capacity. The children lived in a separate building near the factory called the Apprentice House. Most children came from workhouses. They would work long days with schoolwork and gardening after coming back from the mill. The work could sometimes be dangerous, with fingers being occasionally lost, for example Thomas Priestly in 1806. However, most children were willing to work in the mill because life at a workhouse would be worse.
Samuel Greg was born in Belfast in 1758. One of thirteen children he was adopted at 8 yrs old, by his maternal uncle Robert Hyde. Samuel's father was a ship-owner who had land in the West Indies. He sent two of his sons, Thomas and Samuel to live with relatives in England. Robert Hyde was a textile merchant and manufacturer. Samuel started working for the company on 1778, and was a partner by 1782. Robert soon died and his brother Nathaniel retire. At 24, Samuel had a fortune of ₤26000. He had a loom shop in Eyam, and built Quarry Bank mill to provide a safe souce of yarn. 
Samuel Greg, a Presbyterian by upbringing married Hannah Lightbody a Unitarian who attended Cross Street Chapel in Manchester. He accepted her faith and built Norcliffe Chapel in Styal village. Their non-conformist religious beliefs provided the Gregs with important business contacts as many of the major Manchester Industrialists were Unitarian.
Of Hannah and Samuels thirteen children Robert Hyde Greg (1795-1875), John Greg (1801-1882), Samuel Jr. (1804-1876) and William Rathbone (1809-1881) entered the business. Robert Hyde Greg was also interested in astronomy and politics and was elected MP for Manchester in 1839. John was responsible for the Lancaster and Caton mills and eventually the Bollington mill. He served as alderman and mayor of Lancaster. Samuel Greg Jr. took chardge of the Bollington mill and unsucessfully experimented with profit sharing- disillusioned he became a preacher. William Rathbone Greg was responsible for Hudcar Mill, Bury and than took over the troubled Bollington Mill, retiring from the business in 1850 he became Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office, and an avid essayist and pamphleteer. 
Elizabeth Greg (1790-1882) married William Rathbone V, of the Liverpool merchantile family. She founded the first public wash-houses in the United Kingdom in the wake of the 1832 Liverpool Cholera epidemic. Later she helped William Forster in formulating the 1870 Education Act.
The Gregs family were also involved in the Triangular trade. Samuel Gregs brother-in-law, Thomas Hodgson, owned a slave ship. Thomas Greg, Samuels father and his brother John Greg part owned some sugar plantations in the Caribbean and particularly on the West Indian island of Dominica. The best documented is Hillsborough which included the ownership of 71 male slaves and 68 female slaves. In January 1814, twenty slaves absconded, and were recaptured and punished with 100 lashes for the males and 50 lashes for the females. The incident that caused this was put down to the fact that a slave had died in the plantation run hospital and the run aways believed he had been poisoned. 
In 2013, Channel 4 released a docudrama about Quarry Bank Mill. The program featured the Greg family, and depicted life for child mill workers during the time period. The story lines intertwined some facts about Quarry Bank Mill and the apprentices, pauper children, who were taken to work there by the Greg family from nearby workhouses. The program included story lines which did not happen or had no proven record of happening at Quarry Bank Mill, but gave some detail as to the things which happened at some cotton mills in the UK.
Some facts included the rise of militant union leaders pressuring the government and factory owners to introduce a bill called the ten hour bill, which would prohibit children from working longer than 10 hours a day were covered in the program. Some of the program was fact mixed with fiction, such as Hannah Greg's feelings on slavery, and her desire to abolish it. However there is no record that Hannah Greg ever spoke in public like she did in the program, as this would have disgraced her husband, Samuel Greg, whose family owned various cotton and sugar plantations in the Caribbean. 
- English Heritage, "Quarry Bank Mill (1237687)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 11 September 2013
- The Mill. Series 1. Episode 1. 2013-07-28. Channel 4. http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-mill/4od#3554929. Retrieved 2013-08-03.
- Westall 1994, Illustration 59.
- "Quarry Bank Mill history". Retrieved 2007-09-25.
- "Styal Village". Retrieved 2007-09-25.
- National Trust Magazine, Spring 2013
- BBC News: Project to restore Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire (accessed 12 February 2013)
- Calladine & Fricker 1996.
- Bourne 2007, p. 12.
- Bourne 2007, pp. 13,14.
- Bourne 2007, p. 13.
- Bourne 2007, pp. 14,15.
- Bourne 2007, p. 27.
- Examination of Thomas Priestly, 02-08-1806, Manchester Central Reference Library, C5/8/9/5 (1806.
- Spinning the web-Places > The Rural scene > The Greg family.
- Rose 1986, p. 36.
- Transcript of interpretive board at Quarry Bank Mill.
- Bourne 2007, p. 19.
- Bourne 2007, p. 18.
- Owens 2010.
- "Styal Mill Course Work Assignments". Edexcel. 2003. p. 16. Retrieved 20 November 2013.
- Calladine, Anthony; Fricker (1993). East Cheshire Textile Mills. London: Royal Commission on Historical Monuments of England. ISBN 1-873592-13-2.
- Bourne, Matt (2007). Quarry Bank Mill and Styal Estate. The National Trust. ISBN 978-1-84359-258-7.
- Owens, Jessica (2010). Quarry Bank Mill and Styal Estate. GCSE Resources (14-05-2010 ed.). National Trust.
- Rose, Mary (1986). The Gregs of Quarry Bank Mill: the rise and decline of a family firm, 1750-1914. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0521323826.
- Westall, Roy (1994). Wilmslow and Alderley Edge ; Quarry Bank Mill & Manchester Airport. Chichester, West Sussex: Phillimore & Co. ISBN 0-85033-867-0.
- Quarry Bank Mill and Styal Estate information at the National Trust
- National Trust: Collection of primary source documents relating to the Gregs and Quarry Bank Mill
- Richard Arkwright's Mill Channel 4
- The sound of Quarry Bank Mill on Sound Tourism site
- Information and Photos