Saturday, 13 April 2013

Industrial Cotton Production Heritage - Quarry Bank and Styal Mill

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Cotton production - the manufacturing of fabric from cotton plant to finished product is amazing to me. Whether it's because some history teacher at school regaled us with stories of Hargreaves, Arkwright and the Flying Shuttle or the discovery that my family history is peppered with silk merchants, calico producers and dyers I don't know but there is something about the smell of an old mill - it's wood and oil, the cotton fibres and the contraptions that live there that never fails to captivate my imagination.

There are big social issues associated with these places and no doubt without the slave trade that helped the trading triangle between England, Africa and America to flourish none of these mills would exist. The working conditions for the children employed there for 12 hours a day, 6 days a week would hardly meet the European Working Time Directive.

Styal Mill near Manchester, England is a National Trust property and it's a great place to spend a few hours. The demonstrators of the machinery are knowledgeable and excellent at communicating the history of this place.  A wonderful demonstration of spinning technique has me wanting to find out more. Apparently there are associations of spinners, weavers and dyers. The original water mill is still providing power to the mechanised looms and the fabric that is woven there is sold in the shop.

If you are interested in industrial heritage and the story of the rise and fall of the cotton manufacturing industry in the UK then Styal would be the place to go.

About ten years ago it was certified for civil wedding ceremonies - my brother and his wife were married at Styal - it's a great backdrop to a wedding and holds many happy memories of that day for me together with the history of all the manufacturing that took place there over so many years - the essence of our
industrial heritage.

I really recommend it - great for fabric lovers, for husbands who love bits of machinery (my husband was as fascinated as I was) and the children there were captivated - how often do they see real manufacturing machinery - it's an impression that will probably last for a long time. Go!

1 comment:

Louise Wood said...

Hi Lizzie,
I'm a customer of cotton patch. I'd never heard of styal before. Will definitely go for a visit.



About Us

The Cotton Patch is a family run patchwork and quilting business which was started by Jean Sewell in 1990. The shop is situated in Hall Green, Birmingham and expanded in 1999 to include the shop next door. Originally offering Mail Order catalogues, The Cotton Patch established one of the first patchwork and quilting websites in the UK. The Cotton Patch continues to be a premier supplier of patchwork and quilting fabrics, tools and notions and supplies customers throughout the UK and the world.