Quarry Bank is a working mill
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
Spot a hidden gem while you're here - see if you can spot the original headrace, privy and water pump.