Discover the Lost Voices of Quarry Bank

Archive image of 3 women in Styal village

In 1918 the lives of women in Britain were changed forever when they were granted the right to vote. Except that right wasn’t granted to every woman. Only those who were over 30, married or owned property received the vote; about 40% of the female population. The majority of women at Quarry Bank and across Britain had to wait another 10 years to be granted a legal voice. From 3 March – 7 October 2018, we’re exploring the Lost Voices of Quarry Bank - the women who weren’t heard at the time, and who often remain lost to us today because of their age, status or means.

Kirsty Wark in Parliament Square

Listen to the Women and Power podcast series, featuring Quarry Bank

Download and listen to the five-part Women and Power podcast series, exploring the fight for women's suffrage and its legacy. Presented by Kirsty Wark, the series visits some of the National Trust places most associated with women's suffrage, and features many of the women that you can discover more about in the Lost Voices exhibition.

Women from every background


Quarry Bank was a community of people that spanned the social and political spectrum. Each individual woman, from mill worker to mill owner, has her own story to tell about suffrage. In a series of installations, we’ve highlighted some of these experiences and are hearing the voices of incredible women who could so easily have been lost to the historical record.


Following the trail around Quarry Bank, you can meet Alice Dowson, the granddaughter of Samuel and Hannah Greg and a passionate suffragist. Alice campaigned for the vote for more than a quarter of a century, and was 73 when it was finally granted to her. Nancy Johnson was never so lucky. A millworker and important member of the Styal community, Nancy was instrumental in setting up the Co-operative Society in Styal, yet her contribution was barely recorded. She died in 1878, but had she been alive in 1918 she still wouldn’t have been granted the vote. 

Visitors on a Lost Voices exhibition tour

Join a Lost Voices tour

On Fridays and the second and fourth Saturday of each month, you can join one of our interpreters on a Lost Voices tour of Quarry Bank. Get new insights into the lives of the women featured in Lost Voices, and find out more about the fight for women to get the vote.

Uncovering women’s voices


To create Lost Voices, we’ve teamed up with Dr Ruth Colton who, with the help of two postgraduate students, has been delving into our archive to discover more about the women of Quarry Bank and to curate the exhibition. 

Illustration of Charlotte Marsh with quote about suffragette activity

Hear both sides of the debate in Quarry Bank House

The question of women's suffrage was one of the hottest political topics of the early twentieth century. In an exhibition of work by illustrator and cartoonist Jacky Fleming in Quarry Bank House, you can explore both sides of the debate. Hear from famous figures of the day, including politician and aristocrat George Curzon and suffragette Annie Kenney. In an interactive digital experience you can also delve deeper into the real stories of the women featured in the Lost Voices exhibition.

Writing women back in


As part of Lost Voices and sponsored by Trust New Art, we’ve commissioned a writer-in-residence to respond to the stories and themes of the exhibition with new works of fiction. Beth Underdown, author of ‘The Witchfinder’s Sister’, will be in residency at Quarry Bank this spring, and will be writing new work that will be presented at Manchester Literature Festival in October 2018.

Mill workers in uniform going to fight in World War I

Did you know...

1918 also marked an important turning point in the fight for male suffrage. It was the first time that all men over the age of 21 were granted the right to vote, without further age or property qualifications. The voting age was only lowered to 18 in 1969, and debate rages on about giving the vote to 16 and 17 year olds.

Upcoming events

The Tiger Who Came to Tea Exhibition

Tue 16 Oct 2018
10:30-16:30
Meet the iconic children's character, the Tiger Who Came to Tea, in a special pop-up exhibition celebrating 50 years since the publication of Judith Kerr's classic. In association with Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children's Books.

Journeys of the Imagination

Tue 16 Oct 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.

Afternoon Tea with the Tiger Who Came to Tea

Tue 16 Oct 2018
13:30-14:45
Join us for a fun-filled afternoon tea and storytelling session inspired by the Tiger Who Came to Tea. Combine your afternoon tea with a visit to the Tiger Who Came to Tea exhibition inside the mill for even more tiger themed fun.

Off-site event - Quarry Bank at Manchester Literature Festival - Beth Underdown

Tue 16 Oct 2018
19:00-20:00
Beth Underdown presents her newly commissioned work 'Love makes as many' and discusses her writing residency at Quarry Bank with Dr Tania Hershman. This event will take place in Manchester at the Anthony Burgess Foundation. Part of Trust New Art.

October Half Term - Been Through the Mill

Mon 22 Oct 2018
11:00-16:00
Find out about the gory accidents that happened to Quarry Bank’s mill workers. Discover what it was like to work with a disability in the past, meet a mill physician and compare historical treatments with today’s medical advances.

Spooky Tours

Fri 26 Oct 2018
18:30-19:15
An outbreak of plague has forced the mill to shut its doors. A quarantine is in place, but volunteers are needed to go inside and look for the victims. Are you brave enough to go in the mill and face what lies within the walls?