The Quarry Bank Project 2015-2020

Building works at Quarry Bank

Over the past four years Quarry Bank has been at the centre of one of the largest projects in the National Trust’s history. New areas have been restored and for the first time ever visitors can now explore the complete industrial heritage site at Quarry Bank, once one of the largest cotton manufacturing businesses in Britain, on the edge of the first industrial city in the world. Discover how this £9.4 million project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and thousands of generous donors, has transformed how you experience and learn about Quarry Bank.

Briefing for work on the Quarry Bank estate

The project

From welcoming visitors into the Georgian home of the mill owning Greg family, to throwing open the doors of a two-up-two-down mill workers’ cottage, and restoring a 19th century glass house, we’ve been busy returning Quarry Bank back to the complete industrial landscape it once was, home to an entire community of mill owners, mill workers and child apprentices

Transforming the galleries inside the mill at Quarry Bank

Transforming the mill

The Quarry Bank Project has transformed how we share the stories of the men, women and children who lived and worked at Quarry Bank, with new galleries installed across all five floors of the mill. Experience the sights and sounds of working in the cotton mill in a brand-new audio-visual experience, discover the story of mill owner Samuel Greg, and see life at Quarry Bank through the eyes of the workforce, from the dangerous jobs to the accidents and injuries.

Quarry Bank House

New areas: Quarry Bank House

In 2017, we opened up the Georgian home of the mill owning Greg family for the very first time. Portraits were hung, Georgian furniture was installed, and new interactive displays now reveal the stories of Hannah Greg and her family. Fixtures and fittings were carefully cleaned by the conservation team, and the fabric of the building was restored as part of the capital works. The beautiful large tiles in the stairway were lifted and to be meticulously cleaned with each one labelled in order to put them back in the exact same location.

Inside the workers' cottage at Quarry Bank

New areas: A workers' cottage

A two-up-two-down workers ’ cottage in Styal village was also restored and opened in 2017. Layers of history were revealed, as we repaired walls and floors to discover wallpapers dating back to the 19th century. Paper Conservator, Graeme Storey repaired these original wallpapers, and Quarry Bank’s archive team of specially trained staff and volunteers set to work carefully cleaning the floors, nooks and crannies, ready to open the cottage for visitors. New research conducted by Professor Hannah Barker at the University of Manchester revealed more about the home lives of Quarry Bank’s workers, and a new welcome hub with creative displays opened in Styal village, enabling you to uncover the lives of the people who lived here.

Volunteer planting the gardens at Quarry Bank

Restoring the gardens and glasshouse

Acquired in 2010, the upper gardens and rare curvilinear glasshouse have been restored to their former glory by Quarry Bank’s garden team with the help of specialist contractors. By using information from our archives including photographs, letters, diaries, maps and garden plant orders we were able to recreate the garden to how we think it would have looked. The walled garden is now a working garden with a wonderful array of vegetables growing there and the once derelict 1830s glasshouse that sits as the centre piece sparkles once again. Where possible, we used original materials in the rebuilding process. New cast iron glazing bars were individually re-cast using a mould made from a surviving bar and 7,000 panes of hand-made glass have been installed. You can now uncover the stories of Quarry Bank’s kitchen garden and the work of Head Gardener William Brough in the upper garden back sheds.

Staff and volunteers planting on the estate at Quarry Bank

Restoring a picturesque landscape

Over in the woodland estate, Quarry Bank’s ranger team have been hard at work restoring Chapel Woods to the picturesque pleasure ground it once was. The grounds at Quarry Bank were established and enjoyed by the mill owning Greg family from the 1790s. By using records from the Quarry Bank archive, visitors can now enjoy a walk through the woodlands and look out for the historic bridges and heritage trees that were introduced to the landscape by the Greg family. Thousands of wildflowers have been replanted to restore natural habitats, new accessible paths have been laid and a new outdoor play space is being introduced soon allowing as many people as possible to get closer to nature.

The new Welcome Building at Quarry Bank

A new Welcome Building and car park

We’ve extended the visitor car park to almost double its original size, and a new Welcome Building and orientation point allows us to greet every visitor with the information they need to plan a full day out at Quarry Bank. From the Welcome Building you can book onto guided tours of the Apprentice House and the newly opened workers' cottage. You can also find out about activities and exhibitions that are running on the day of your visit and register to become a National Trust member so you can keep coming back to enjoy, learn and explore.

Family exploring the mill at Quarry Bank

Thank you!

Thanks to the Quarry Bank Project, the mill has been transformed, with new stories about the men, women and children who lived here revealed. The restoration and opening of Quarry Bank House and the workers' cottage offer a whole new experience when you visit, bringing the home lives of the workforce to life and revealing the sharp contrasts between mill owners and workers. The garden has also become a hub of enjoyment. You can now sit back and relax in our garden cafe, explore the restored glasshouse and wander through the kitchen gardens bursting with fruit and vegetables once again. Thank you to everyone who has donated to the Quarry Bank Project, you have helped restore one of the most complete industrial heritage sites in Britain, and transformed how we experience and learn about it today – thank you.