Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire, England, is one of the best preserved textile mills of the Industrial Revolution and is now a museum of the cotton industry. It is a Grade II listed building and is now in the care of the National Trust.
The mill was founded by Samuel Greg (who is represented here), in 1784 in the village of Styal on the River Bollin. Its original iron water wheel was designed by Thomas Hewes and built between 1816 and 1820.
The Hewes wheel finally broke in 1904. After that the River Bollin continued to power the mill, through two water turbines. Today the Mill is home to the most powerful working waterwheel in Europe, an iron water wheel which was originally at Glasshouses Mill at Patley Bridge. This wheel was designed by Sir William Fairbairn, the Scottish engineer who had been an apprentice of Thomas Hewes.
The estate surrounding the mill, also developed by Greg, is the most complete and least altered factory colony of the Industrial Revolution. The estate and mill were donated to the National Trust in 1939 by Alexander Carlton Greg and are open to the public. The mill continued in commercial production until 1959.
The Greg family were Unitarians and built Norcliffe Chapel in Styal village. Their non-conformist religious beliefs provided the Gregs with important business contacts as many of the major Manchester Industrialists were Unitarian. Methodist workers at the mill later sought a place of worship, and the Gregs converted a grain store in Styal village into a Chapel for their use.
In Britain, a cotton mill is a factory that houses spinning and weaving machinery. Typically built between 1775 and 1930, mills spun cotton which was an important product during the Industrial Revolution.
Cotton mills, and the mechanisation of the spinning process, were instrumental in the growth of the machine tool industry, enabling the construction of larger cotton mills. The requirement for water helped stimulate the construction of the canal system too.