Alexander Carlton Greg Biography

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Alexander bequeathed Quarry Bank Mill and Styal Estate to the National Trust in 1939.

Alexander, or Alec as he became to be known, was born in 1901 to Ernest William Greg and his wife, Mary Cross. He grew up at Norcliffe Hall, built by his great-grandfather, Robert Hyde Greg in the 1830s.

An Unexpected Future

Alexander was the youngest son of Ernest and was never destined to inherit the mill. He had two elder brothers, Arthur Tylston and Robert Philips, and two sisters, Madge and Helen. Thanks to Alec’s diaries, we can see that they had a happy, fun filled childhood together playing together in the Northern Woods and the estate.

Unfortunately, with the outbreak of World War One, this happy family life came to an end and sadly Alec’s elder brothers both died in service, leaving him as heir.

A Love of Nature

Alec was extremely interested in nature and during his youth he kept a nature diary in which he documented the different flora around Styal and the gardens at Quarry Bank and Norcliffe. This interest in the natural world continued into adulthood and left Alec with little desire to enter the family business.

In 1923, Robert Alexander Greg, Alec’s uncle, along with his father, had turned R Greg & Co. into ‘Quarry Bank Mills Company Limited’, the principal shareholders being Robert and Ernest. However they stepped back from the business and largely left the running of the Mill to the mill manager, Samuel Henshall.

The Future of Quarry Bank

In the 1930s, he moved from Styal to Acton Bridge in Northwich, Cheshire, to become a farmer, with his wife Kathleen and their children Naomi and Mark. In 1934, Alec’s father, Ernest died, and as Alec had no desire to return to Styal, nor had he ever been involved in the family business, he was faced with the problem of what to do with the Mill and the surrounding estate.

With Wilmslow Council planning on building houses on the adjoining land, Alec donated Quarry Bank Mill, Styal Village and the surrounding estate and woodland to the National Trust in 1939.