Home Overview People Places Industry Clothing & Products Interactives * Contact Us Help
You are in: Places > The Rural scene > Quarry Bank Mill Print Page     Email Page  
* * *
*
Helmshore Mills
*
Quarry Bank Mill
*
Apprentices' House
*
The Greg family
*
*
Quarry Bank Mill
*
Image Number: 3003155
Quarry Bank Mill was founded in 1784 by a young textile merchant, Samuel Greg, Quarry Bank Mill was one of the first generation of water-powered cotton spinning mills. Styal was chosen for a number of reasons, not least because of the suitable head of water provided by the River Bollin and its proximity to the Bridgewater Canal and thus Liverpool. As the Greg enterprise flourished, the Mill itself was extended and a working community established at Styal. This included two chapels, a school and a shop as well as cottages and 'terraced' housing. By the 1830's Samuel Greg & Co. was one of the largest cotton manufacturing businesses in Britain with four other mills as well as Quarry Bank.

Samuel Greg, the Mill's founder, gained experience and contacts in the textile trade whilst working for his uncles' merchant-manufacturing business from 1778, inheriting the company 4 years later. He built the Mill as a water powered cotton spinning mill in 1784, continuing to manage its affairs until his death in 1834. The Mill underwent considerable development, with more machinery and waterwheels added, and a steam engine installed. He learnt to appreciate the value in looking after his workforce. He was a speculative businessman who made a considerable fortune from his activities.

Samuel's main business partner was Peter Ewart, who brought technical skill to the firm. He served from 1796 - 1815, although his involvement was purely nominal from 1811. Ewart had been an apprentice with Boulton and Watt, then serving as the company's Northern agent, and was a partner in Samuel Oldknow's Stockport cotton spinning business in 1792 - 93. He oversaw improvements to water power and machinery, and introduced steam power to the Mill in 1810. Gregs' managers were largely responsible for the day-to-day running of the Mill, enabling their masters to concentrate upon the broader issues facing the family enterprise and the industry, particularly under Samuel and Robert Hyde's leadership.

Samuel's son, Robert Hyde Greg, continued to expand the Mill and introduced weaving in 1838. He replaced his father as the figurehead of the family enterprise, although this caused him considerable strife from the late 1840's as some of the other mills managed by his brothers began to fail. He retired in 1870 and died 5 years later. Unlike his father, he had outside interests, whether influencing political opinion (he served as an MP for Manchester, 1839 - 41) or developing his horticultural interests.

Edward Hyde Greg replaced his father as head of the Mill from 1870 - 1900, but was less suited to business life, and enjoyed the privileges which wealth could bring. Under his stewardship, the Mill encountered increasing difficulties as the industry began to be challenged by foreign competition and the British economy suffered a downturn. His main decision was to abandon spinning in favour of weaving in 1894.

His sons, Ernest William and Robert Alexander, were responsible for converting the Mill into a limited company in 1923, and although they retained directorships, their contact with the Mill diminished henceforth. Ernest William's son, Alexander Carlton, finally closed the Mill in 1959, although he had never been actively involved in the industry.

Quarry Bank Mill is still a working Cotton Mill producing over 9,000m (10,000 yards) of cloth each year, where visitors can observe the 19th Century textile machines working and meet skilled cotton workers.


GG

View the Quarry Bank Mill collection to find out more >
*
Associated Images
*
Related Narratives
*

*
*
Image: Exterior view of Quarry Bank Mill Image: Map showing NW Cotton towns
Image: Railway viaduct Image: Derelict mill, Manchester
Image: Exterior view of Mill at Helmshore Image: Canalscape showing gasometer
New Opportunities Fund - Lottery Funded - logo
8
© Manchester City Council | Terms & conditions