The Mill on Channel 4

The apprentices working in the mule room © Channel 4 and Ryan McNamara

The apprentices working in the mule room

The Mill on Channel 4

In 2013 Darlow Smithson Productions filmed a brand new drama series for Channel 4 based on the history of Quarry Bank Mill. The series follows the lives of the mill owners, mill workers and apprentices as they try to navigate their way through a time of rapid change. Highlighting these turbulent times by drawing on real events and personalities from Quarry Bank’s past, the story is given added drama by the creation of events and characters that are entirely fictional.

The result is a dramatic blending of fact and fiction, invention and reality, a story of people’s lives.

Series 2 has been commissioned and will air later this year. Catch up with the first series on 4OD or buy the DVD in our shop.

The Greg family

Samuel Greg is portrayed by Donald Sumpter in Channel 4’s ’The Mill’ © Channel 4 and Ryan McNamara

Samuel Greg is portrayed by Donald Sumpter in Channel 4’s ’The Mill’

Samuel founded Quarry Bank Mill in 1784 and is finding it hard to leave his beloved Mill in the care of his son Robert. Meanwhile matriarch Hannah is trying to keep the peace and improve the lot of the apprentices.

The runaways

Runaway apprentice Esther Price is portrayed by Kerrie Hayes © Channel 4 and Ryan McNamara

Runaway apprentice Esther Price is portrayed by Kerrie Hayes

Esther Price and Lucy Garner run away from their life at Quarry Bank Mill in search of justice for themselves and their fellow apprentices.

The Catteralls

Susannah Catterall is portrayed by Holly Lucas © Channel 4 and Ryan McNamara

Susannah Catterall is portrayed by Holly Lucas

Susannah and Miriam are sisters whose circumstances at the Mill prompt Esther Price to start fighting for their rights, and bring the attention of socialist mechanic, Daniel Bate.

The fighters

Daniel Bate is portrayed by Matthew McNulty © Channel 4 and Ryan McNamara

Daniel Bate is portrayed by Matthew McNulty

Daniel Bate and John Doherty have strong opinions on worker's rights but very different approaches.

The Timperleys

Mr Timperley portrayed by Kevin McNally © Channel 4 and Ryan McNamara

Mr Timperley portrayed by Kevin McNally

The husband and wife team who look after the Apprentice House can't always keep their young charges under control.

Like father, like son?

Samuel Greg founder of Quarry Bank © Quarry Bank Archives

Samuel Greg founder of Quarry Bank

One of the major storylines in the series is the conflicted relationship between Samuel Greg and his son Robert Hyde Greg and their clashes over the management of the Mill, but in reality were they really so different?

The real Esther Price

Kerrie Hayes as Quarry Bank apprentice Esther Price © Channel 4 and Ryan McNamara

Kerrie Hayes as Quarry Bank apprentice Esther Price

In 'The Mill' Esther is a headstrong young apprentice who stands up for herself and her fellow apprentices. The character is based on the historical Esther Price who was indeed an apprentice at Quarry Bank and did run away.

The fight for rights

The Factory Question was an investigation into working conditions © Quarry Bank Archive

The Factory Question was an investigation into working conditions

At the onset of the Industrial Revolution there were no precedents set for the standard of care for workers, and so over the 1800s and beyond the workers had to fight for their rights.

What about the children?

John Ellis’ indenture, signed 1796 at Quarry Bank Mill © Quarry Bank Images

John Ellis’ indenture, signed 1796 at Quarry Bank Mill

The plight of the apprentices is a major storyline in the series, but throughout the 1800s there were reformers pushing to improve the conditions of working children.

Behind the scenes

The staff at Quarry Bank had a great time watching the series being filmed.

It was sometimes challenging to manoeuvre our visitors around the film crew but they all found it fascinating to watch.

Quarry Bank History

If The Mill has sparked your interest for all things Quarry Bank, you can delve deeper into the history by checking out our history pages which are packed full of fascinating stories.

The Mill website

On set of ’The Mill’ at Quarry Bank © Channel 4 and Ryan McNamara

The Channel 4 website about The Mill is full of even more information about the cast, characters and the research that inspired the programme.

The Mill exhibition

Esther Price stands up for herself against Robert Hyde Greg © Channel 4 and Ryan McNamara

Visit us here at Quarry Bank and take a look at our exhibition exploring the making of the series

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