Creating new exciting ways to bring the story to life

Child enjoying the Worst Jobs Exhibition

We want to create amazing experiences for you when you visit Quarry Bank. We have been putting a lot of thought into this and thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, Arts Council England and other generous funders we have the ability to bring this to life.

New ways of developing exhibitions and events              

We are consistently thinking of ways to excite and engage you when you visit Quarry Bank and to tell the stories of the people who lived and worked here in a new way. We have therefore started to look at themed programming. What is themed programming? We like to think of it as planning all of our events and exhibitions around a theme.

By having an annual theme, we can take one idea and think about it in a whole manner of ways. In 2016, we looked at gardens and created three exhibitions ‘Unearthed’, which looked at how gardeners past and present have shaped what you see today. ‘The Clockwork Garden’ a fun filled extravaganza where a mechanical seed from a faraway planet landed in the mill and children were invited to learn all about gardens. With a trail, interactive games, a puppet theatre and much more children of all ages had fun. Finally ‘Exotic Guests and Alien Invaders’ looked at the impacts of environmental factors, invasive plant species and sustainable working.

Using these three very different links to gardens, we built exhibitions, trails and a programme of tours, talks and family activities which all felt connected and immersive for you, the visitor.

This year’s theme is ‘home and work life’ and from this we have designed ‘A Woman’s Work is Never Done’ our Spring exhibition, which was featured on BBC’s Women’s Hour. This exhibition looked at themes which remain relevant today: wage gap, working life, domestic life, and childbirth. We found that many of themes struck an emotional chord and made visitors think about their own lives and memories. Following this we have developed a more family focussed exhibition and trail ‘The Worst Children’s Jobs in History’ based on Sir Tony Robinson’s book and tv series, where people of all ages can get stuck in discovering the worst jobs in history. Again two very different ways of thinking about the same theme.

New opportunities

We are always looking at new opportunities to work with other organisations and the local community to support us with this work. To date we have worked with some fantastic people:

  • University of Manchester – Dr Ruth Colton, a post PHD researcher delved into our archive to help to create the women’s work exhibition. Immunology professors also helped us to bring to life the ailments of the apprentices for our science themed half term.

  • Manchester WI – The lovely ladies at the WI supported the exhibition ‘A woman’s work is never done’ by creating drawings and postcards based on today’s ideas of women’s’ work.

  • Manchester College – We love to help budding artists and for and have showcased work from students at Manchester College

  • Styal Prison – We engaged an artist, Lauren Sagar, to work with women in the local prison to respond to the theme of ‘women’ based on their experiences. Conversations led to drawings which led to a quilt and comfort blanket being produced that represents their feelings. This was displayed in the exhibition and will be used by the women during support meetings in the prison.

  • Jennifer Reid – We loved hearing local broadside ballad singer Jennifer Reid bring to life the stories and history of local mill workers in the nineteenth century. So much so that we have been working with her to create songs based on the archive at Quarry Bank. Jennifer has then sung these across the site and at local festivals.

Trust New Art

Trust New Art is the National Trust's programme connecting people to the stories of special places through contemporary arts. This autumn Quarry Bank will be presenting ‘Arts and Wonder season’ where you will be able to discover how the mill owners and workers enjoyed the arts, science and self-improvement. We will have artworks on display from four contemporary artists along with a Quarry Bank artist in residence who has been researching in the archive and will be creating a bespoke piece. Other things for you to enjoy:

  • There will be a trail for families and children to explore Quarry Bank and discover the artworks and their links to Quarry Bank’s stories.

  • The Greg family had an interest in space and scientific exploration, they even built their own observatory in the garden. As such, we will have a ‘Cosmodome’ on site as part of the Manchester Science Festival. Thanks to the University of York, people will be able to step inside this dome and discover space up close.

  • In October half term, as part of Manchester Science Festival, we will deliver 5 days of ‘Meteorites and fireballs’, partnering with the University of Manchester, find out more on the what’s on page.

Every time you visit there will be something new to see and do

We want to make your visit special every time you visit so along with all the great things you can do at Quarry Bank such as hearing the whirring heritage machine, listening to our knowledgeable guides and relaxing in the garden, we have launched bob-in tours. Every day a different guide will take you on an in-depth tour of an area of the site such as Styal village, the garden, the power gallery to help you to get more from your visit.


Festivals and events

We want everyone to engage with the stories of Quarry Bank and of the early Industrial Revolution. We are working with local festival and events partners to see how we can engage more of you with our stories. Look out for us during the Manchester Histories Festival, Manchester Science Festival, Wonder Woman Festival, the Wythenshawe Games and lots more.