Posted by: Pupils | 08 May 2012
Year 8 Quarry Bank Mill Trip
Year 8 visited Quarry Bank Mill, Wilmslow in April 2012 as part of their geography syllabus:
Quarry Bank Mill was built in 1789 by Samuel Greg. Then in 1790 the apprentice house was built for all the children who were soon going to work. In 1833 the apprentice house was closed and Styal Village was built. Quarry Bank Mill is in the countryside and is only surrounded by a fair number of small houses which two hundred years ago would have accommodated the mill workers. The River Bolin (which is right by the mill) powers the water wheel which in turn powers the cog which powers all the machines at the mill.
Going to Styal Mill was a great experience and a massive eye opener to see how the cotton industry developed through time and also to see how it really started. One aspect from Styal Mill that really blew me away was the good old fashioned water wheel. It was hard to get my head around the scale of the thing first of all but to realise that just one wheel can control an enormous mill through a load of cogs, small wheels and leather ropes was just astonishing and made me realise that little things can do a lot.
These machines were made so that work could be faster. At the age of 9, children would come and do easy work at the mill and the employer would know how old the child was by telling them to put their hand over their head and touch their ear, as children under the age of 9 could not do that. The children had different easy jobs to do and one of them was picking up shoddy cotton which is recycled cotton they can reuse.
The machines were very dangerous. The designs of some were not very good either. For one of the machines you had to use your hand, and if your hand got stuck and the machine was dragging you in, the button to stop it was on the other side, so you had to get someone’s attention to stop the machine. For that machine some people grew long nails so the fingers didn’t get chopped off so fast. There were lots of other ways you can get hurt on a machine like:
Getting your fingers chopped off
Your arm cut off
Something drag you in the machine.
All serious injuries were recorded.
I learned that there were many different spinning wheels at Quarry Bank Mill. The first one was the Spinning Jenny. The Spinning Jenny was invented in 1763 by James Hargreaves. It was better than the machines before it and it reduced the amount of work needed to produce yarn. It was able to produce 8 or more spools at once. The next spinning machine was Crompton’s Spinning Mule. It was invented between 1775 and 1779. It was used to spin cotton and took an extraordinary time to spin a small amount of thread. The next one I learned about is the Water Frame by Richard Arkwright in 1768. This was different to the others because it was powered by water. I really enjoyed my time at Quarry Bank Mill, and if ever you are in the south of Manchester I would recommend a visit.