We changed the storyboard and focused on the first dramatic 50 years of the mill’s history, a period which saw Quarry Bank at its most globally significant belonging to the first generation of cotton mills in the world.
We used the evocative historic spaces across the site to communicate the emotion of the place and allowed visitors to experience the sights and sounds of mill life.
The Mill is the flagship experience at Quarry Bank, with four floors of exhibition to explore and live demonstrations to watch and participate in. We used the threads of the cotton to guide people through the building. Our intricate warp and weft design in the first gallery cleverly weaves itself across the mill floor, creating pockets of exhibition display to tell the story of the site and operation.
On the upper floor we bring out the emotional story of the mill worker’s lives. The focal point of the zone is a sculpture constructed of ‘indentures’ the apprentices would have to sign to work at the Mill. People can investigate the individual lives of each worker around the edge and inside, experience the daily sounds, sights and experiences of the workers in a sensory, immersive AV show.
When working with history and heritage, it’s always a challenge to represent those whose lives weren’t recorded. With no records and no photos, we used silhouettes to showcase the workers, and used information on their working conditions to help interpret what their lives might have been like.
Rather than create very detailed scientific exhibits, we chose to tell the story of power and engineering in a highly visual way using a beautiful lightbox story book. Styled as a working notebook, it opens up across the space and reveals how the Mill adopted technology over the course of its history. Striking silhouette illustration and animations bring the pages to life.
The other offers across the site are tailored to different audiences. From new hands-on interactives and displays in the Back Sheds, to the hub in Styal Village that tells the stories of people who lived there, to an insight in the mill owner’s house, the offers are rich and varied.