This mill, built as a water powered mill in the 1780s, is now owned by the National Trust and it costs £5 [adults] for the mill or £6.50 for the mill, apprentice house and garden - free to NT members. This sounds pricey but it is quite different from anything else in the area and well worth the money. There are good facilities for wheelchair access except for the top floors but the large uneven stones outside make it hard work for the pusher.
Samuel Greg, who founded the mill in 1784, believed that most of the evils affecting mill workers at the time were caused by the congestion and iflth of towns and therefore built his mill in the country with a village [Styal] for the workers nearby and a house for the young apprentices [young meaning YOUNG] near the mill. While grossly overcrowded by modern standards the adults' houses were ahead of their time in such things as toilet facilities. of course location in the country had certain benefits but mill workers still had to work long hours for very little and it was the owning family that became very rich from their efforts.
The key historical changes were the introduction of a steam engine in 1810 and its replacement by a more advanced machine in 1836. The mill still contains the huge water wheel and a collection of steam engines and these can be seen working. [See the mill's website for details of times etc. www.quarrybankmill.org.uk].
There are also examples of old textile machinery working, including cotton spinning mules. Everything is carefully arranged for the maximum educational effect and much stress is placed on the social conditions of the 18th and 19th centuries.
We did not attempt to go to the Apprentice House on our only visit so far as we had a friend in a wheelchair with us but we shall certainly go again as we have had very positive reports about it. This was possibly one of the better ways of leaving an orphanage and there were many orphaned or abandoned children.
The estate setting is beautiful and it is hard to believe that the airport is so close - except for the noise!