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

Bob-in Sessions

Mon 24 Apr 2017
14:30-15:15
Join us at 2:30pm each day Monday-Friday for a special talk or tour from one of our teams.

The Worst Children's Jobs in History - Launch event

Sat 29 Apr 2017
10:30-16:30
Celebrate the opening of the Worst Children' Jobs in History exhibition with a fun packed bank holiday weekend of grime, gore and graft.

The Worst Children's Jobs in History - at Quarry Bank

Sat 29 Apr 2017
10:30-16:30
Inspired by Sir Tony Robinson's Worst Jobs in History series, find out about the worst children's jobs at Quarry Bank this summer

Sir Tony Robinson family talk and book signing

Sat 29 Apr 2017
11:30-12:30
This event has now sold out, however our interactive family fun show is still available to book. Join Sir Tony Robinson as he opens our new exhibition based on his book - The Worst Children's Jobs in History (at Quarry Bank!)

The Worst Children's Jobs in History - Launch Show

Sat 29 Apr 2017
13:30-14:00
Experience our exciting and interactive Worst Children's Jobs in History show and see what it would have been like to be a child in the past.

Baby and Toddler - Storytelling and Play session

Sat 13 May 2017
09:30-10:15
Bring your little ones to Quarry Bank, for a special storytelling and play session just for them. Please book your free ticket in advance.