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

Arts and Wonder Season

Wed 18 Oct 2017
10:30-16:30
Arts and Wonder is a season of creative responses to the themes of work, leisure and the legacy of industrialisation. Supported by Trust New Art.

Bob-in Sessions

Wed 18 Oct 2017
14:30-15:15
Join us at 11:30am on Mondays and 2:30pm each day Tuesday-Friday for a special talk or tour from one of our teams.

Behind the scenes - Machines

Sat 21 Oct 2017
14:00-15:00
One Saturday a month we invite you join us as we look at the Mill and its machinery in more depth. Led by our expert team, this is a real opportunity to find out more about this fascinating place.

Meteorites & Fireballs - Cosmodome

Mon 23 Oct 2017
11:00-11:30
Step into space and learn about astronomy in our interactive inflatable Cosmodome this October half term. Run by the physics outreach department from the University of York. As part of Manchester Science Festival.

Meteorites & Fireballs

Mon 23 Oct 2017
11:00-16:00
Inspired by the Greg's interest in space and science, join us for science family fun at Quarry Bank this October half term. As part of Manchester Science Festival.

Spooky Tours

Fri 27 Oct 2017
18:30-19:15
Join us if you dare for an even scarier, interactive spooky tour of the Mill, performed by the nrg theatre company and students from Staffordshire University.