The Mill on Channel 4

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Inspired by Quarry Bank

In early 2014, Darlow Smithson Productions began filming the second series of the popular drama ‘The Mill’, commissioned by Channel 4. The series is a blend of fact and fiction, inspired by the people and stories of Quarry Bank’s history.

The programme follows the lives of the mill owners, mill workers and apprentices as they continue to navigate their way through a time of rapid change. Series 2 starts in 1838, five years after the events of the first series, and we see the return of the original characters and meet several new faces. This series follows the ongoing fight for workers’ rights and the troubles of the Greg family’s business.

Although the programme highlights some of the facts from the time, many aspects of the story and characters are entirely fictional. Whilst some historical events referred to in the drama took place and involved Quarry Bank personalities; others did not. In the first series, mill owner Samuel Greg and his son Robert fought against reformers who pushed for the working day to be reduced to ten hours. Daniel Bate is a keen supporter of the reforms and tries to awaken a sense of fight amongst his fellow workers.

Series 1 recap

The Greg family were at odds themselves, with Robert desperate to modernise and Samuel stuck in his ways, and matriarch Hannah trying to hold the family together. Samuel died, leaving Robert to finally have his own way.

Meanwhile at the Apprentice House, Susannah Catterall was pregnant with the child of Robert’s younger brother; William Greg. When Robert found out who the father was, he tried to move her to another Greg mill, but she and Daniel Bate had fallen in love, and she agreed to marry him and move to the village. Her siblings Miriam and George remain in the Apprentice House to serve the rest of their indenture.

Esther Price befriended newcomer Lucy Garner, and together they ran away in search of Esther’s birth certificate to try and prove that she was older than believed, which would allow her to leave the Apprentice House earlier than anticipated.
They were caught by Mr Timperley, the superintendent of the Apprentice House and severely punished for their behaviour. Esther struck a deal with Robert to keep quiet about her punishment as long as he agreed to give her a job and a home in the village when she finishes her apprenticeship.