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Living History at Quarry Bank Mill

Pupils in Prep 6 visited Quarry Bank Mill as part of a History project on Victorian Mills.

We experienced the dangers that children faced with the machines, whether you were scavengers and you had to duck under the machine and clean the threads but get back out again before being crushed, or if you were a ‘Piecer’ and had to rub stray pieces of cotton together until your hands were red and raw. We saw the spinning mule in motion with its 500 threads pulling cotton and heard the deafening roar of the weaving machines, which the poor children had to endure all day from the age of 5-18.

We also experienced what it would have been like for the pauper children living in the Apprentice House.  We were asked to make the beds in a replica of a dormitory and we were told that the beds were made of straw and the straw got changed once a year even if someone wet the bed.

In the kitchen we found out what the pauper children ate: porridge for breakfast, porridge for lunch and porridge for dinner. It was cold, lumpy and thick enough to be eaten out of your hands for breakfast. At lunch it would be the same but with vegetables, and for dinner it would be served hot, or, if you were lucky, you would get a thick, beef and vegetable stew.

All in all, it was a superb day in which we learnt so much and could appreciate the hardships which the children faced while working and living there.

By Srishti Ramakrishnan and Madeline Pratt, 6B