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Industrial Revolution at the Quarry Bank Mill

Year 8 experienced the fun and gruesome side of history on their visit to the Quarry Bank Mill in Styal, Cheshire, in October. Quarry Bank, built in 1784, is one of the best preserved textile mills of the Industrial Revolution and has been restored to showcase what life was like for the working classes in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The day involved seeing a variety of Industrial Revolution inventions like spinning machines and weaving looms in action, learning about founder Samuel Greg building his cotton business, and experiencing daily life in the apprentice house where child apprentices lived and worked. History teacher Mr Martin said about the trip, “A good day was had by all and the girls gained an insight into what life was like for some boys and girls of their age two hundred years ago.”

The mill was expanded over the years from a simple four-storey structure to being the headquarters of one of the largest cotton manufacturing businesses in the world, close to the centre of British cotton production, Manchester. The original collection of barns and cottages of Styal village were converted into more working areas and accommodation for employees, most notably the child apprentices from workhouses in Hackney, Chelsea, or Liverpool poorhouses. These school-age children had to work dangerous shifts with the equipment and risk their fingers being severed - a far cry from the pupils’ own lives in the modern day. Today, the mill houses the most powerful working water wheel in Europe moved from its original place in Glasshouses Mill at Pateley Bridge and is a National Trust site, as well as still producing cotton calico.

Hearing true stories about the lives of young workers at the mill, and being in a place with such fascinating history, brought what the girls had learnt in the classroom about the Industrial Revolution to life!

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