A Woman's Work is Never Done

Illustration of women working on a spinning machine at Quarry Bank

From the girls in the Apprentice House to the ladies of the Greg family, women form the backbone of the Quarry Bank story. This exhibition, running from Saturday 21 January to Monday 17 April 2017, shines a light on the experiences of the women and girls whose stories have often been invisible.

Margaret Magan worked at Quarry Bank from the age of ten, brought to work in the mill as a child apprentice. Over her years of service for the Greg family she learned many skills, working as a spinner, a weaver, and a winder. In her last job in the mill, she achieved something that very few women ever did. She became an overlooker in the winding room; the highest paid person in the room who was responsible for overseeing everybody else’s work.

Bessie Greg had a strikingly different start to life. Born into the mill owning Greg family, she was raised to be a lady, to play with expensive dolls and have her hair curled, and to take care of her younger siblings. Yet Bessie yearned to do more than be a wife and a mother. She had a passion for map-making and dreamed of travelling the world. Finally, aged 37, she set off on her intrepid travels…

Women have always been at the heart of Quarry Bank, and their experiences were diverse and at times gruelling. In the first exhibition of 2017, we’re exploring the lives of women whose stories have often remained invisible, and exploring what it meant to ‘work’ at Quarry Bank. Following a visit to the exhibition, continue your journey through the mill and to the Apprentice House to experience the real environment in which many women at Quarry Bank worked.

" Researching in the archive alongside the Quarry Bank volunteers has been a source of non-stop fascination and excitement for me. The inspiring women’s stories we have uncovered for this exhibition are just the beginning. The archive holds so many more fascinating and hidden voices just waiting to be discovered. "
- Ruth Colton, exhibition curator and academic at the University of Manchester

Upcoming events

Lost Voices

Mon 23 Jul 2018
10:30-16:00
Lost Voices explores the experiences of women whose stories were not heard, and which are often lost to us today because of their age, status or means. Installations across Quarry Bank will bring their voices to life.

Journeys of the Imagination

Mon 23 Jul 2018
10:30-16:30
Pack your bags for an adventure as we discover the incredible journeys made by the people of Quarry Bank. Based on newly written stories by Berlie Doherty with beautiful illustrations by Emma Baldwin.

Summer Holidays: Exploring with Elephants

Mon 23 Jul 2018
11:00-16:00
Join Elizabeth Mary Greg in India. Through her eyes visit the Taj Mahal, sit atop an elephant and camp in the foothills of the Himalayas.

Garden Tour

Tue 24 Jul 2018
11:30-12:30
Join one of our garden team every Tuesday for a special guided tour.

Water Power Tour

Wed 25 Jul 2018
11:30-12:30
Join one of our expert power team every Wednesday to discover how water powered the mill.

Caring for Quarry Bank

Thu 26 Jul 2018
11:30-12:30
Join our expert archives and collections team every Thursday to discover how we look after and tell the stories of Quarry Bank.