Understanding the Impact of Injury and Infection among the Workers and the Wealthy of the Quarry Bank Mill (1847-1920)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Arts Languages and Cultures


Quarry Bank Mill is one of Britain's leading industrial heritage sites. It was a prime cotton-spinning and weaving estate, housing an industrial community. In 1845, Friedrich Engels described its intense working environs and 'family run' class structure as a site of 'patriarchal servitude'. This PhD examines the health and wellbeing of its community. A key intervention in the historiography is to compare and contrast the wealthy owners, the Greg family, with the workers, especially around health, injury and infection. The project will use current scientific research to inform historical understanding. The Mill can be used to explore the wider question of how ill-health and injury traps people in poverty both in the past and present.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
ES/P000665/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2027
1902089 Studentship ES/P000665/1 01/10/2017 30/09/2020 Jamie Farrington
Description Through the research funded by this award the National Trust in collaboration with the main research have created an exhibition which highlights the impact of working in textile mills during the 19th century on the health of operatives. This exhibition has enabled visitors to think about their own health and how it is impacted on in their daily lives. Other outcomes has been public programming with the National Trust for the October half-term for children. Through this we put on educational activities for primary school aged children revolving around the health and medical history of the mill.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

Title Database of Quarry Bank' Medical Notes including Diagnoses and Treatments 
Description This database is a collection of diagnoses and treatments of the ill and injured apprentice children at Quarry Bank between the years 1804-1844. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2019 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact It provides a detailed resource into illnesses and injuries associated with mill workers in the early nineteenth century. 
Description Partnership with the National Trust 
Organisation National Trust
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Providing information for public programming events and an exhibition.
Collaborator Contribution Access to archival resources and the provision of a tour of the site and training courses.
Impact Public programming. A museum exhibition.
Start Year 2017
Description 'A Healthy Profit' exhibition held at Quarry Bank Mill 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A six month long exhibition created from the research conducted on the medical and health history of the Quarry Bank community. This exhibition explores how workers at Quarry Bank would have suffered from a range of different health conditions caused by illnesses and injuries. It highlights how these would have been treated medically at the time. Through this exhibition discussions have arisen revolving around how people see threats to their health today, and visitors have left feedback discussing their own understanding of medicine and how their lives differed from those in the mill.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019,2020
Description Public Programming for Primary School Aged Children for the National Trust 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public programming event aimed at Primary level school children. The event was a historical re-enactment where a member of National Trust staff performed the role of one of the surgeons at Quarry Bank who would have treated the apprentice children in the early nineteenth century. In the performance the National Trust staff as the surgeon ran through some of the different conditions suffered by the apprentices in the mill. The staff member ran through how these would have been treated and got the children to consider how medicine then compared to medical treatment today.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018