Christine was working this weekend, and so, to keep Lizzie entertained, I took her to Quarry Bank, near Manchester Airport.
It’s a National Trust property, and is home to Quarry Bank Mill, a large, red-brick mill. Whilst it is still signposted as ‘Quarry Bank Mill’, the National Trust are spending a lot of money on other parts of the site as well. The mill is still the main draw – it’s big, and still has a lot of existing machinery inside. You enter at the top, and start with wooden looms and spinning wheels, before heading down to the mechanised machinery that were used in later years.
Quarry Bank Mill is also home to a very, very big water wheel. It’s still operational, but has been replaced by steam engines and electric power. Enthusiastic volunteers demonstrated the machines and explained how they work, making it feel more interactive than some industrial museums that I’ve previously visited (Leeds, Calderdale and Bradford)
A special exhibition at the top of the mill is based on Sir Tony Robinson’s book The Worst Children’s Jobs in History. Kids can practice shovelling (fake) horse poo, picking vegetables, sweeping chimneys and looking after babies (dolls). Lizzie loved this, and threw a bit of a tantrum when I had to extract the doll from her to move on. It’s on until the 10th September.
Last year, the gardens at Quarry Bank were renovated and this was completed earlier this year. They’re home to some nice decorative planting, a kitchen garden and a newly-renovated glass house. You can even buy some of the produce for a donation. A new visitor centre will open later this year, improving access to the gardens.
Next year will see Quarry Bank House opened to the public for the first time, along with some mill workers houses.
We didn’t go to the Apprentice House, which is a separate guided tour. I didn’t think Lizzie would enjoy it, but maybe we can go again when she’s older.
Getting to Quarry Bank
Quarry Bank is near the village of Styal and is just to the south of Manchester Airport, so it’s relatively easy to get to. It took me about an hour to drive there from Sowerby Bridge, in light traffic.
As with all National Trust properties, members get in free. I’m a member, and Lizzie is under 5, so it didn’t cost anything for either of us to visit, but Christine isn’t. Had she come with us, it would’ve cost her £20. That being said, there’s a lot to see and do and it’s a full day out; I got there at 10:30 and left about 3pm, and didn’t do the Apprentice House. National Trust members will find it especially good value for money.
My photos from Sunday are on Flickr, as usual.