New look for iconic clock tower at Quarry Bank Mill

Wilmslow Express - - FRONT PAGE - Karen Brit­ton

RE­STOR­ERS have com­pleted work to re­pair one of the most recog­nis­able fea­tures at Quarry Bank Mill.

It has taken more than five months to re­pair the mill’s clock tower in painstak­ing de­tail – in­clud­ing us­ing gold leaf for the nu­mer­als and clock hands.

Eleanor Un­der­hill, gen­eral manager, said the clock was an im­por­tant part of mill life.

She said: “One of the bells in the clock tower would have been rung to call the ap­pren­tices into work so it re­ally is im­por­tant to the fab­ric and his­tory of the build­ing.”

Quarry Bank’s es­tate build­ings team be­gan as­sess­ing the state of the tim­bers sup­port­ing the tower dome, the struc­ture of the bell, and the clock­face in Oc­to­ber.

They then started re­pairs with the help of con­trac­tors. Dur­ing the work they dis­cov­ered one of the bells was a John Tay­lor bell, dat­ing back to 1895.

It was com­mis­sioned for a church in New­port, South Wales, but had to be re­turned be­cause it was too small and was even­tu­ally sold to the Greg fam­ily which owned Quarry Bank Mill. The bell was in­stalled in 1900 in mem­ory of Arthur Greg, who died of pneu­mo­nia and pleurisy in 1899. Vis­i­tors to Quarry Bank, which is owned and run by the Na­tional Trust, will have no­ticed the tower has al­ways been wonky – a quirk which has not been put right dur­ing the restora­tion.

Ex­perts sta­bilised the struc­ture so that stonework could be car­ried out around the clock. The face was re­placed, as the ex­ist­ing one would have been dam­aged if the paint had been stripped.

Ally Tsi­lika, Quarry Bank’s ar­chives and col­lec­tions of­fi­cer, said the old face went into stor­age for preser­va­tion along with the finial, which had rot­ted.

She said: “It is never a case of out with the old and in with the new.

“It is im­por­tant for us to pre­serve our her­itage and this is a great ex­am­ple of the work the Na­tional Trust does.”

Sa­muel Greg es­tab­lished the cot­ton mill on the banks of the River Bollin in 1784, mak­ing use of the read­ily avail­able wa­ter sup­ply to power the mill.

Jerry Veale, build­ing su­per­vi­sor for Quarry Bank, with the clock face

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