Last weekend we decided to put our National Trust membership to good use and visit another local property. This time we chose Quarry Bank Mill in Wilmslow, I’ve been several times over the years but it was Chris and the kids first visit.
Quarry Bank is an 18th century water powered cotton mill, it’s also one of the best preserved textile mills of the industrial revolution. Along with the mill there’s the gardens, apprentice house and Styal village to explore too. On this visit we explored the mill and the gardens.
When we arrived we decided to head straight to the mill, I thought the kids would enjoy seeing the machinery in action. There is also an exhibition on at the moment called ‘The Rights of the Child’ that I was really interested to see. The mill is set across four floors with lots to see including a waterwheel that powers the whole mill.
On the first floor we learned a little about the mills history before the kids had a go at carding some cotton. Carding is the process of separating the fibres of the cotton, machines usually do this now but it used to be done by hand at the mill.
We moved on the see the machinery in action next, there was a demonstration happening and it was very loud. I can’t imagine having to work in those conditions without some sort of ear defenders. The kids didn’t want to spend too long with the machinery so we moved on to the exhibition next.
The exhibition was really interesting but definitely a difficult subject to try to explain to the kids. They have such a carefree life compared to the children who had to work in the mill. We spent some time reading about the lives of the children, I was shocked to learn that they made up 50% of the workforce.
We went down to the ground floor to look at the waterwheel which the kids really enjoyed. It’s amazing to think that the wheel driven by the River Bollin used to power the whole mill. On the ground floor we also found some experiments for the kids to do. They had a go at making a bridge and some other fun things.
It was soon time for lunch so we ate our picnic by the play park which had a raised seating area overlooking the river and grounds. The kids loved running around while we sat and enjoyed the beautiful view.
Next we moved on to the gardens, we didn’t realise quite how hilly they were and little legs were soon tired. I definitely want to come back in the summer and explore some more of the gardens.
Before we left for home the kids spent some time in the natural play area where they could climb to their hearts content.
We had a really good few hours at Quarry Bank but there’s still so much for us to come back and explore.