This week we decided to return to Cheshire, to the National Trust cotton mill Quarry Bank, built in 1784. We’ve been there many times before, but its always interesting to return every so often to see what’s changed, particularly in the gardens.
Yet again the sky was grey, with not a drop of golden sun to be seen, but it was at least dry. The trees did, however, provide us with plenty of autumn colours. We Brits are easily pleased!
Arriving after an hour’s journey we were in need of a leg stretch, so we set off past the Apprentice House in the steps of several school parties who were dressed up as child mill workers ready for their apprentice experience. I don’t think Lord Sugar was anywhere near however.
We’d decided not to visit the Apprentice House this time so carried on towards the village of Styal where you can still see the original cottages built to house the mill workers and the Norcliffe Chapel.
After a circular walk we arrived back at the mill and headed towards the garden via the path at the rear of the mill. This view gives a true impression of how large the mill really is.
A short diversion took us to see the nearby weir, quite a spectacular sight surrounded by autumn colour.
Near here is the Mill Pond, again looking pretty good this time of year.
There’s a hut at the garden entrance where you can pick up a guide to the garden and find out information on what there is to see.
The views back to the mill from the garden are quite spectacular.
The Upper Garden is being returned to its former glory and the 1830s Glasshouse is being restored. There is a small greenhouse containing pot plants and gourds.
There were also some delightful flowers still on show in the garden.
Inside the Cotton Mill
Finally we headed to the Cotton Mill itself.
This really is a fascinating place where you can spend several hours learning about the history of the cotton industry, the Gregg family who owned the mill and their workers, with the aid of illustrated information boards, photographs, exhibits and costumed interpreters.
There is also an exhibition on the television series The Mill, which was inspired by and filmed at Quarry Bank.
No National Trust day out would have been complete without a visit to the shop and also the Mill Cafe where we enjoyed a very tasty lunch and afternoon tea.
Situated in the original 1830s weaving shed, this is decorated with enlarged photos of people from the past who worked and lived at the mill. Particularly poignant are the two pictures shown below of mill staff standing in the same place but over a century apart.
If you’ve not visited Quarry Bank before go prepared to spend a full day there as there is lots to see and do whatever the weather!