A group of pupils from Saint Paul’s visited Quarry Bank Mill in Styal, one of the best preserved textile mills of the Industrial Revolution which is now a museum of the cotton industry.
The Year 8 pupils had just completed a topic on Quarry Bank Mill itself, linking it with the Industrial Revolution. In particular, they focused on why Quarry Bank Mill was so successful. The visit allowed the pupils to develop their understanding of how the mill worked and what the conditions were like for the workers.
The pupils were able to look at the story of the mill workers, entrepreneurs and how the Industrial Revolution changed the world. They were able to watch hand-spinners at work, experience the clatter of machinery and the hiss of steam engines, and marvel at Europe's most powerful working waterwheel. They then had a guided tour of the Apprentice House, which housed the pauper children who worked in the mill.
“The visit gave the pupils an unrivalled opportunity to immerse themselves in the sights, sounds and smells of the Industrial Revolution,” explained Mr Tom Nolan from Saint Paul’s. “As the spinning wheels turned, costumed staff told tales of life before the mills. Then, further into the factory, fearsome machinery roared, illustrating the inherent dangers so many young Victorian children faced in factories. The giant water wheel amazed the pupils who learned how water and steam powered the mill.
The Apprentice House shocked our pupils with its strict Victorian school lessons, basic dormitories, and gruesome medicines! Our pupils had many questions to ask and at the end we were awarded a prize for ‘the school that asked the most questions’!”
“The pupils were able to go back in time and experience how life must have been during the Industrial revolution,” commented Ms Irena Savova from Saint Paul’s. “The pupils could really draw on their own knowledge while being guided around the wonderfully maintained Apprentice House. Some were able to try out writing with quills, chalk and a few even practiced their letters in sand! The guides shared with us a typical day/week for an apprentice and took us through a number of rooms including; sleeping quarters, the Doctor’s treatment room, the Superintendents’ front room and the kitchen. It was in the latter that we could see the range of foods that were available to the apprentices and, in comparison to many other mills in and around Manchester, how well the apprentices were fed.”
“Quarry Bank Mill and the Styal Estate is a site of international importance, being the most complete and least altered factory colony of the Industry Revolution,” said Miss Tina Wilkinson, Deputy Headteacher at Saint Paul’s. “The day was packed full of interesting and insightful facts and the mill and its surroundings are brought vividly back to life by true stories told by very knowledgeable costumed staff. Visits like these are a great reward and provide a very valuable experience for our pupils and enhance the learning curriculum.”