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.



With a series of accompanying events to the exhibition, there are lots of ways to dig deeper. Join us on Saturday 4 March for 'Words and Books', where poet in residence Kate Fox will perform poetry inspired by Quarry Bank, and Professor Hannah Barker of Manchester University will discuss 'The Business of Women: female traders during the industrial revolution'. Then on Saturday 18 March we're thrilled to welcome food historian and presenter of BBC Victorian Bakers, Dr Annie Gray, to Quarry Bank. Annie will be giving a talk on 'Get back in the kitchen! Women as cooks and chefs 1650-1950'. Tickets for Annie's talk are £8 and are available to book now. Visit our What’s On pages for details.

" 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

A Woman's Work is Never Done exhibition

Fri 24 Feb 2017
10:30-17:00
From the girls who lived and worked in the Apprentice House to the ladies in the Greg family, women form the backbone of the Quarry Bank story. This exhibition shines a light on the experiences of the women and girls whose stories have often been...

February half term fun

Fri 24 Feb 2017
12:00-16:00
Make computer coded necklaces using binary beads to spell out your name, and take a clothes peg and lollipop stick engineering challenge

Behind the scenes - Have a go

Sat 25 Feb 2017
13:00-15:00
One Saturday a month we invite you join us to have a go and try out new things at Quarry Bank Led by our expert team, this is a real opportunity to find out more about this fascinating place.

Elite clothing during the life of Hannah Greg

Sat 25 Feb 2017
14:00-15:00
Discover the history behind elite clothing of the past in this talk from costume enthusiast Jenny Unsworth. This talk will include a display of replica costume.

Bob-in Sessions

Mon 27 Feb 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.

Words and Books - World Book Day

Sat 04 Mar 2017
10:30-16:00
Celebrate World Book Day at Quarry Bank with an interactive tour inspired by bestselling author Berlie Doherty's 'Far From Home'. Dressing up as your favourite book character is encouraged!