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The archive and collection at Quarry Bank

The Archives Reading Room at Quarry Bank, Cheshire
The Archives Reading Room at Quarry Bank | © National Trust Images/David Watson

Quarry Bank houses thousands of objects and papers which document the stories of an early Industrial Revolution community.

The collection at Quarry Bank

From pieces of miniature railway, swords and axes to fancy-dress costumes. There's even a maypole that is over a hundred years old.

Collected by a past family and bygone workers, there's more than 200 years worth of artefacts. You'll find a staggering collection of private papers from five generations of the Greg family. Also here are the records of almost everybody who ever worked here. In addition are large collections of photographs, maps, plans, and oral histories.

A visitor in a wheelchair along with two other visitors exploring inside the mill, with large looms visible in the background
Visitors enjoying Quarry Bank Mill, Cheshire | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

The Workers’ Library

Inside the Workers' Library were hundreds of books enjoyed by the mill workers and residents of Styal village in the early 20th century.

The Greg family, as keen promoters of the Temperance movement, wanted to promote the literacy of the mill workers over any temptations towards alcohol. The Workers' Library was opened by Henry Greg in 1900, and was housed in a Club Room in the village.

The collection

The collection at Quarry Bank now contains 260 books, yet a 1920s catalogue lists 487 books. Minutes from the Club Committee shows £10 a year was donated to build the collection (around £500 in today’s money). The cost of books was usually well outside the means of most working class readers.

The borrowing book

The first borrowing book covers the period from the first loan in November 1901 to March 1915, during which time there were 3,810 loans taken out, more than five a week.

Displays of cotton tablecloths in the National Trust shop at Quarry Bank, Wilmslow, Cheshire
The textile testing equipment at Quarry Bank | © National Trust Images/Paul Harris

Textile-testing equipment

The archive also houses an extensive collection of machines and apparatus used to test the quality of yarn and cloth.

The testing of incoming and outgoing yarn and cloth was important to all mills. It helped to identify irregularities, minimise potential losses and ensure that yarn bought in for weaving was of the required quality. Quarry Bank's testing room was located next to the financial heart of the mill, it demonstrated the importance of the textile testing process. Testing was an important thing to protect the reputation of the mill within the Lancashire cotton industry.

Visitors at Quarry Bank Mill, Cheshire

Quarry Bank's collections

Explore the objects and works of art we care for at Quarry Bank on the National Trust Collections website.

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