Without a doubt the best national trust property we have visited. I have wanted to visit this mill for a number of years, and with a nice drive up to Cumbria for a trail race it made a good idea to stop off. On the way to Quarry bank we drove through Jodrel Bank home to the famous radio telescope and I noticed it had a visitor centre so we will have to have a look there in the years to come. Quarry bank is an old mill that was famous for the cloth and textiles it made and played a big part in the industrial revolution.
Samuel Greg leased land at Quarrell Hole on Pownall Fee from Lord Stamford, who imposed a condition that ‘none of the surrounding trees should be pruned, felled or lopped´; maintaining the woodland character of the area. The factory was built in 1784 by Greg to spin cotton. When Greg retired in 1832 it was the largest such business in the United Kingdom. The water-powered Georgian mill still produces cotton calico. The Gregs were careful and pragmatic, paternalistic millowners, and the mill was expanded and changed throughout its history. When Greg’s son, Robert Hyde Greg, took over the business, he introduced weaving. Samuel Greg died in 1834.
The Mill was attacked during the Plug Plot riots on 10 August 1842.
The mill’s iron water wheel, the fourth to be installed, was designed by Thomas Hewes and built between 1816 and 1820. Overhead shafts above the machines were attached to the water wheel by a belt. When the wheel turned, the motion moved the belt and powered the machinery. A beam engine and a horizontal steam engine were subsequently installed to supplement the power. The Hewes wheel broke in 1904 but the River Bollin continued to power the mill through two water turbines. The mill owners bought a Boulton and Watt steam engine in 1810 and a few years later purchased another because the river’s water level was low in summer and could interrupt production of cloth during some years. Steam engines could produce power all year round. Today the mill houses the most powerful working waterwheel in Europe, an iron wheel moved from Glasshouses Mill at Pateley Bridge designed by Sir William Fairbairn who had been Hewes’ apprentice.