The Mill

Hand spinning and weaving

Learn about cotton processing © National Trust Images/John Millar

Learn about cotton processing

Hand spinning and weaving was practised for over 1000 years in people's homes before the Industrial Revolution.

In the Mill you can watch live demonstrations of hand spinning and weaving, and of the Flying Shuttle and Spinning Jenny, the medieval and early modern precursors to the machinery of the industrial age.

Cotton processing

Quarry Bank Mill still processes cotton on-site on our heritage machinery © National Trust Images/John Millar

Quarry Bank Mill still processes cotton on-site on our heritage machinery

To transform the fluffy cotton plant into a workable, durable thread it had to be prepared by various machines.

Our cotton-processing floor is home to a carding engine, as well as several spinning frames. Ask our knowledgeable demonstrators about this fascinating process.

Weaving Shed

We have live demonstrations of machinery © Emily Duignan

We have live demonstrations of machinery

The Mill was once home to 310 automatic looms in what is now the catering block.

In our Weaving Shed you can watch up to four looms being run by our demonstrators, which make an almighty noise - we can't imagine what the full 310 sounded like.

Mule room

One of our interpreters replaces the bobbins on the spinning mule © Emily Duignan

One of our interpreters replaces the bobbins on the spinning mule

Our spinning mule holds over 500 threads. The original spinning mules at Quarry Bank would later feed the hundreds of looms introduced by Robert Hyde Greg in 1836.

Ask one of our demonstrators what happened if you weren't paying attention to your overlooker.

Looking after the Mill

The Mill needs tender love and care.

Throughout the winter season the members of the team spend their days tending to the Mill.

From machines to engines to cobbles, there's a lot to look after.

The Mill Worker's world

 © Quarry Bank Mill Images

See how the workers of the Mill lived, with examples of their clothes, children's toys and a reconstruction of some of the rooms of the cottages Samuel Greg built for them in Styal Village.

The Mill Manager's office

The office of the Mill manager © Ellen Fenton

The office of the Mill manager

This is the part of the mill where the business was conducted. Here, clerks scribbled away and sorted out orders and workers collected their wages.

The power of water

The waterwheel is the largest in Europe © Quarry Bank Mill Images

Our waterwheel is the most powerful working waterwheel in Europe and is fuelled by the flow of the River Bollin. It is the fifth wheel to be installed at Quarry Bank Mill since its foundation in 1784.

The power of steam

Learn how steam replaced water in the Mill © National Trust

Samuel Greg introduced the power of steam to Quarry Bank Mill in 1810. Over the course of the 19th century the Mill increasingly relied on steam as its main source of power, replacing water.

Hidden gems

  • The mouth of the original headrace © Quarry Bank Images

    Original headrace

    Opposite the original wheel pit, peer through the bars to see the oldest part of the Mill.

  • The privy can be found on our Cotton Processing floor © Quarry Bank Images

    Privy

    Whilst you're in cotton processing, take a look at the privy - not very hygienic!

  • The water pump is one of the original pieces of machinery © Quarry Bank Images

    Water pump

    This piece of machinery is original to the Mill and was used as part of the central heating.

The Mill provides a unique experience. The machine floors attack all the senses, with the smell of oil, grease and cotton. The clattering sounds and sights of the working machines, still processing cotton, bring the history of the people and place alive.

Clare Brown, Machine Supervisor

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