Year 8 pupils had an interesting visit to Quarry Bank Mill in Cheshire on a very sunny autumnal day in September. Pupils had the opportunity to experience what life was like as a pauper apprentice signed to the mill until they were 21 years old. First stop was the apprentice house school room, where everyone found out about the daily life of an apprentice, the food they ate and the small amount of time they spent on a Sunday afternoon learning how to read and write. Next stop was the very bleak and cold girls dormitory where apprentice girls slept in small wooden beds with mattresses made of straw and chamber pots under the bed. Next door was the old boys dormitory that had been turned into a demonstration room to show the natural remedies of the apprentice doctor and everyone loved peering into the jar of leeches ! Then everyone returned back downstairs to visit the sitting room of the superintendents of the apprentice – and many of the pupils jumped out of their skin when the ghost of Esther Price suddenly made a loud bang !
In the afternoon the pupils all visited the huge textile mill that was built by Samuel Greg in 1784 and saw working demonstrations of how families made a living by weaving in the home and the change to the bigger looms with the flying shuttle before the Industrial Revolution. They then moved into the larger mill areas and saw many of the weaving and spinning machines working in active demonstrations by the National Trust Staff as well as getting a chance to see the huge water wheel that helped provide the energy for the industrial machines. The noise of one machine powered by steam was loud enough so a whole room of large steam powered machines must have been very noisy indeed ! Pupils heard lots of stories about what life was like as a mill worker, as well as some of the accidents that happened to children working there and some even got a chance to have a go at “carrying the can”.