We are very lucky to have so many wonderful National Trust properties near us in Cheshire. Quarry Bank Mill is, in my opinion the most photogenic.
Situated in the village of Styall, a few miles to the south of Manchester and, like its National Trust brother, Tatton Park in the shadow of Manchester Airport. Quarry Bank Mill’s origins lie in the embryonic Industrial Revolution, built in 1784 by Samuel Greg.
Greg’s vision was that the valley with its fast flowing river provided the power needed to drive the new technology looms and mules of a textile mill. When Greg retired in 1832 Quarry Bank Mill was the largest such business in the UK. The mill continued in the ownership of the Greg family until 1939 when it passed to the National Trust.
The Greg family were like the Levers, Rowntrees and Terrys enlightened employers and built a nearby village for the Mill workers. The cottages in Styall are still occupied and provide a wonderful glimpse into the world of the mill workers three centuries ago.
But for me the joy of the site is the gardens between the Mill and Styall Village. Today was one of those wonderful early Spring days when the sun shone, the day grew warmer and the gardens were a mixture of daffodils, camelia, magnolia and tulips.
The garden is full of wonderful views and the contrast between the Mill buildings and the spring flowers provides a metaphor for the respective lives of the Greg family and their workers. Although those workers were far better treated than the majority of their peers, the quality of their lives, working conditions and life expectancy they were diametrically opposed to their employers.
The Apprentice House is a stunning building, simple whitewashed brickwork but set apart from the village and Mill it housed the apprentices who were usually sent away by their families to work and “learn a trade”. They were unpaid but at least they had the compensation of living in this wonderful building.
More of today’s photos can be found on my photography website FullSlidePhotography