The mill

Image of the mill at Quarry Bank

Explore the mill to see working cotton machinery in action and to find out what it was like to work in an mill in the Industrial Revolution. Galleries in the mill tell the story of Quarry Bank's founder, Samuel Greg, and the men, women and children who worked in his mill. Below you'll find information about accessibility in the mill.

The mill is a complex series of buildings which are split across different levels and connected via two main staircases (staircase a and staircase b), several ramps and a passenger lift, which can be used in the event of an emergency as well as during a normal visit. For emergency evacuation purposes, up to eight wheelchair users are permitted at any one time in the mill and to assist us in managing this capacity, we ask that all wheelchair users start their visit to the mill at the main Mill Entrance, in the mill yard, opposite the mill Shop.   
Motorised wheelchairs are permitted within the mill; however due to the narrow nature of some areas there is a maximum width restriction of 900mm in place. Powered Mobility Vehicles are not permitted within the mill. In the very unlikely event of an emergency evacuation where your route to the evacuation lift is blocked, evacuation will be via an Evac Chair or stair climber where self-transferring is required.  
With the exception of level 1 and level -1 (which are stone and concrete in places), the floors are wooden floor boards. Due to their historic nature, they are uneven in places.  
The lighting throughout the mill is predominantly from LED fixtures. There are also plenty of windows providing natural light in many of the galleries, but during the winter months it can be gloomy in places.  
The mill yard can be congested with people and school-children gathering there or moving across it. For visitor safety, cars are not usually permitted in the yard. However, if you need to use a non-folding wheelchair, you may get permission to be dropped off in the yard. Please arrange this in advance with the visitor reception team (01625 445864). Please report your arrival at Visitor Reception, and we will arrange for access to the mill yard and for a team member to be present in the mill yard to facilitate your safe drop-off. You can also use the volunteer buggy service to get down to the mill yard.

The mill entrance, showing flagged path

The mill entrance

The main entrance to the mill is off the tarmacked driveway. The entrance door is 916mm wide. This space is manned during opening hours by a volunteer, who will be happy to assist you during your visit to the mill. From the entrance, visitors can the machine floors and galleries detailed below.

The Counting House and Mill Manager's Office

View of the Counting House

In the rooms next to the mill entrance you can see the Counting House, where mill workers received their weekly wage, and the Mill Manager’s Office.

The mill manager's office, set dressed with a desk and furniture

Access to these rooms is level and through two doors which are 633mm, 789mm, 768mm, 865mm, 722mm and 762mm wide respectively.

Samuel's Industrial Enterprise

The ramp in the mill entrance that leads to the Samuel's Industrial Enterprise gallery

From the mill entrance you can enter the first gallery, Samuel's Industrial Enterprise, via a 6.7m ramp, which is at a 4% incline, or 3 steps. There is then a sliding door which is open during the summer months, and in the winter months can be opened for you by the mill meeter greeter if required. There is also access via the passenger lift. Samuel's Industrial Enterprise tells the story of how Samuel Greg set up his business at Quarry Bank, and of the cotton trade's global impacts.

A hand spinning and weaving demonstration in the mill

Samuel’s Industrial Enterprise

Find out about Samuel Greg, the founder of Quarry Bank, and his journey from being a young boy in Belfast to building his cotton business. In this gallery you can also see hand-spinning and weaving demonstrations, and discover more about the history of the cotton trade and the exploitation that was at the heart of Britain’s global expansion.

The weaving shed

View showing the ramp between the weaving shed and Samuel's Industrial Enterprise

Access is via staircase b or an 8m long ramp with a handrail, which is at a 4% decline from Samuel’s Industrial Enterprise. In the weaving shed you can see the power looms at work.

Space to turn a wheelchair or allow other visitors to pass in the weaving shed

There is a wheelchair turning circle at the far end of the weaving shed, which is 1.75m deep by 2.44m wide.

View of the weaving shed showing visitor route and machinery

The narrowest point in the weaving shed is 1.14m wide. It can be very noisy when the looms are running and we recommend that you spend no more than 10 minutes in the gallery. Ear defenders are available if you'd like to use them.

The Workforce

View of the lift doors in The Workforce gallery

The Workforce gallery can be accessed via the passenger lift, staircase a, or an 8.4m ramp at a 3% incline from the Cotton Processing gallery.

The audio visual film in The Workforce gallery

There is an audio visual experience in the centre of the gallery, and because of this there are blinds installed on the windows to reduce the lighting levels. There are LED light fixtures throughout to highlight key objects and panels and to make sure there's enough light in the room. The audio visual experience is approximately four minutes long. There is fast moving projected imagery and loud sounds in the audio visual space, so this part of the gallery may not be suitable for all.

View of The Workforce gallery

In the gallery you can find out what it was like to work in a cotton mill in the Industrial Revolution. There are audio elements, designed to be at an accessible height, which include records of accidents in the mill, and information about the different jobs performed by men, women and children and the medical treatment they received. There are benches in the gallery which have fixed arm rests in combination of different positions.

The ramp in the cotton processing gallery

The cotton processing floor can be accessed via staircase b or an 8.4m ramp at a 3% decline from The Workforce gallery.

View of the cotton processing gallery with wooden floors

On this floor you can see industrial spinning machines in action, which can be noisy when they're all running. The narrowest section of the room is 0.97m wide, but there are passing points throughout.

The Story Space and Exhibition Space

View of the Story Space showing the lift doors

You can access the Story Space and Exhibition Space via the passenger lift or the staircases. There is a 6.6m ramp at a 3% incline/ decline between the two spaces. The spaces are staffed by volunteers who will be happy to help.

The ramp in the exhibition space on the fourth floor of the mill

The Story Space and Exhibition Space house our temporary exhibitions in which we uncover stories from the Quarry Bank archives. In the Story Space we investigate the themes of the current exhibition and explore the richness of the archives in detail.

View of the Water Power gallery

Water Power

You can access the Water Power gallery via the passenger lift, staircases a, c and d, or by two short ramps of 3.3m and 1.7m at a 6% incline from Mule Room. In this gallery you can see the top of the water wheel that powered the mill. There are interactive models in this gallery that have specifically been designed so that a wheelchair user can interact with them with ease. This gallery can get cold as it is more exposed to the elements because of the water wheel.

The mule room

Holding image

You can access the water power gallery via staircase b or two short ramps of 1.7m and 3.3m at a 6% decline from Water Power.

View of mule room

The walkway through the mule room is 965mm wide, with one passing point in the middle of the room. There's also space at the far end to turn a wheelchair.

The mule room, with wooden floor

The cotton mule is a spinning machine and is regularly demonstrated by the the Technical Demonstrator team along with machines on the other side of the room. This floor tends not to be as loud as the other machine floors.

Brain Power

The metal stairs leading from the Brain Power gallery up to the Water Power gallery

You can access the Brain Power gallery via staircase c, which has 18 steps or a 19m flagstone slope ramp at a 19% decline from the mill yard.

View of the Brain Power gallery in the mill with stone floors

This gallery has a flagstone floor, and along it you can see a collection of turbines from the early twentieth century alongside the impressive wroking waterwheel. There's a lightbox installation which tells the story of power at Quarry Bank and interactive play stations where you can test your engineering prowess. These are placed at an accessible height for children and wheelchair users.

Steam Power

Photo of the ramp in the Brain Power gallery

You can access the Steam Power gallery via two ramps of 1.2m at a 4% incline and a 4.6m ramp at a 5% incline from Brain Power.

Image showing the staircase in the Steam Power gallery from the ground floor

There is a mezzanine level walkway within Steam Power, from which you can see the steam engines from above. You can access this via a metal staircase with 13 steps.

View of the mezzanine floor in the steam power gallery showing the staircase

There is often steam in the air and it can become humid in this gallery, especially in summer months. There's a volunteer based within this gallery who is happy to assist if you require it.