Quarry Bank is a working mill

Machinery is demonstrated to visitors

We're installing a passenger lift into the mill, which means the mill is closed from 20 November 2017, with a full reopening in summer 2018. The rest of Quarry Bank remains open throughout the closure. To find out more click on 'Transforming the mill'.

View across mill and Quarry Bank House

Transforming the mill 

As part of the Quarry Bank Project, we’re transforming your experience of the mill. We’re installing a passenger lift, which will mean that for the first time the whole mill will be accessible to everyone. To allow this work to take place the mill is closed from Monday 20 November 2017, with a full re-opening in summer 2018. The rest of Quarry Bank will remain open throughout the closure of the mill, with lots of new experiences and exciting things for you and your family to get involved in.

In the mill you can immerse yourself in the clattering and whirring of machines and discover what working life was like during the Industrial Revolution.

" The Mill provides a unique experience. The machine floors attack all the senses, with the smell of oil, grease and cotton. The clattering sounds and sights of the working machines, still processing cotton, bring the history of the people and place alive."
- Clare Brown, Machine Supervisor

Hand spinning and weaving

Hand spinning and weaving was practised for over 1,000 years in people's homes before the Industrial Revolution. In the Mill you can watch live demonstrations of hand spinning and weaving, and of the Flying Shuttle and Spinning Jenny, the medieval and early modern precursors to the machinery of the industrial age.

Cotton processing

To transform the fluffy cotton plant into a workable, durable thread it had to be prepared by various machines. Our cotton-processing floor is home to a carding engine, as well as several spinning frames. Ask our knowledgeable demonstrators about this fascinating process.

Weaving Shed

The Mill was once home to 310 automatic looms in what's now the catering block. In our Weaving Shed you can watch up to four looms being run by our demonstrators, which make an almighty noise - we can't imagine what the full 310 sounded like.

Mule room

Our spinning mule holds over 500 threads. The original spinning mules at Quarry Bank would later feed the hundreds of looms introduced by Robert Hyde Greg in 1836. Ask one of our demonstrators what happened if you weren't paying attention to your overlocker.

Powering the Mill

All these machines needed a strong source of power.  Originally powered by water, a huge steam engine was added which removed the reliance on the river.  Marvel at one of Europe's most powerful waterwheels and see the steam engines in our Power Gallery.

Hidden gems...

Spot a hidden gem while you're here - see if you can spot the original headrace, privy and water pump.