Helen’s treat for the day was a visit to Styal Mill, the history of which – dating from the late 18th Century, can be found here.
We first visited the Apprentice House, where a well informed lady called Jenny gave us a conducted tour of the building in which about 90 children at any one time (60 girls and 30 boys) spent up to ten years of their lives working as apprentices in the mill – 12 hours a day for 6 days a week. The much worse alternative was the workhouse.
It was unusual in those times for a doctor to be available, but Samuel Greg’s mill employed one. His medicine chest may have included some of the items displayed below.
Fresh vegetables were available from the garden, but porridge featured heavily in the children’s diets. The spoon is standing up for a reason – the porridge is solid and could be cut into chunks for the apprentices to eat on their way to work – it was more than poor form to be late for that.
The National Trust, aided by volunteers and charitable donations, are slowly making big improvements and extending the area available to visitors. We hadn’t been in the gardens before. They are very much ‘work-in-progress’, but at least the glass houses have been renovated and the gardens are open to the public.
Here, Sue and Helen explore the greenhouse on the left of the above picture.
The gardens are not all as bare as the top garden shown above!
From the bottom of the gardens the owner’s house provides a backdrop to the River Bollin. Following renovations, that house should soon be open to the public.
Here’s a view of the mill from the lower gardens.
And here’s the classic view of the mill, beside the River Bollin, whose waters provide the power. The waterwheel has been renovated and is now the most powerful working waterwheel in Europe. Its width and its diameter are both in the order of 7 metres. It’s massive!
After lunch we did the full tour of the mill, but I took no further pictures.
If you haven’t been recently, it’s a good day out.