Esther and Will


Kerrie Hayes and Mark Strepan as Esther Price and Will Whittaker © Derek Hatton

Kerrie Hayes and Mark Strepan as Esther Price and Will Whittaker


Esther Price (Kerrie Hayes)

Esther finishes her apprenticeship and continues to work in the Mill, finally earning a wage of her own. She moves into a cellar in the village, living underneath the cottage of the Howlett family. Sparks soon fly with handsome shoemaker, Will Whittaker. Esther has never been afraid to stand up for herself, her friends, or for what is right, and her fighting spirit and determination helps her through the difficulties of what she’s about to face.

Will Whittaker (Mark Strepan)

Will is an orphan who was lucky enough to escape the workhouse when he was taken in by his Aunt Rebecca’s family, the Howletts. He is a shoemaker like his grandfather Abe. He soon falls for Esther’s charms to the dismay of his family. He eventually realises he has to lead his own life and make his own choices, rather than following John’s orders.

The fact: Esther left the Apprentice House in 1838. She lived in the cellar of 5 Oak Cottages with the Holt family. John Howlett and his family lived above the cellar. She continued to work in the Mill as a spinner, before becoming a weaver later on in life.

William Whittaker was a shoemaker born and raised by his parents in Styal.

They began a relationship soon after Esther she moved to the village and they had a lifelong relationship, with four illegitimate children. William eventually married her in 1851, after his father Abraham died, whom we assume disapproved of their relationship.