Journeys of the Imagination at Quarry Bank

Gemma Gibb, Associate Editor
Courtesy David Watson

Journeys of the Imagination at Quarry Bank, Cheshire, 5 May–28 October 2018, Quarry Bank admission prices apply (free for National Trust members) - Visit now

There are many reasons to hotfoot it to Quarry Bank this year, not least to take part in the new Journeys of the Imagination adventure. This new interactive trail, in association with award-winning children’s novelist Berlie Doherty, has been inspired by incredible personal stories from this historic place – one of the UK’s most significant (and much-loved) industrial heritage sites.

It promises adventuring of the highest order together, and many reasons to return to explore this gloriously restored and reinterpreted destination over the months ahead.

Follow the stories of six, very different, intrepid journeys by people who lived and worked at Quarry Bank. We love that historical truths are revealed through creative challenges galore.

Head to the Apprentice House to find the tales of two of Quarry Bank’s apprentices who, amidst long working hours, (and no doubt many hardships) in the 1800s tried their luck at running away. The stories of William Tittensor  (who ran away up to 11 times) and Esther Price from the Liverpool Workhouse (one of the most famous of Quarry Bank’s apprentices whose case was highlighted in the 1830s in the campaign to reduce the hours of child labour in the cotton industry), give opportunity to reflect on a life working six days a week, ten hours a day for just board and no pay.

Stamping the Journeys of the Imagination trail courtesy David Watson
Stamping the Journeys of the Imagination trail courtesy David Watson


Pretend runaways visiting today can hide in the dens in the garden or explore the conditions in the outbuildings that Esther would have experienced as her punishment. Don’t miss the chance to also take a tour of the Apprentice House to see where William and Esther would have lived, and explore the garden that they would have tended to after their long shift in the mill was over.

On the mill meadow discover more about the life of the fiesty Elizabeth Mary Greg who defied convention by never marrying, adventuring around the world in the 1890s and supporting young women to gain further opportunities. Whizz down the elephant slide and spot a tiger.

Exploring Elizabeth Mary Greg's travels at Quarry Bank courtesy David Watson
Exploring Elizabeth Mary Greg’s travels at Quarry Bank courtesy David Watson


Staying on the meadow, imagine the journey of farm girl and mill worker Rebekah Steevens who travelled to work at Quarry Bank from Buckinghamshire by canal boat with her family. Activities here include a canal boat set to create your own nautical experiences.

For those that identify with the more well-heeled traveller the recently restored more formal gardens are the place to be. Find out abut Robert Hyde Greg, the second owner of Quarry Bank who embarked on a grand tour of Europe at a perilous time (he was robbed in Spain), just after the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1817. Make like you are on the European highways in a carriage set and do some sketching (as Robert loved to do) on the easels. Don’t miss the chance to explore the gardens, the design and planting of which were influenced by Robert, a keen horticulturalist.

Carry on your journey in the lower garden with the story of the more eccentric Edward Hyde Greg, Robert’s son. Before he took over management of Quarry Bank in 1870 he travelled widely across the Americas and experienced a narrow escape from an alligator in the Gulf of Mexico. Sit in a canoe here and play “spot the alligator”. Turn the charming large-scale zoetrope to see Edward’s encounter being brought to life.

We love that the history of the place is brought to life through the tales of the whole community that lived there, from across the social spectrum. The souvenir book is illustrated by Quarry Bank’s own technical demonstrator and artist Emma Baldwin.

Do the trail in one go, stamping the passport book you are given on arrival along the way, or spread the adventure out over more than one visit. The stories can be further explored with additional creative activities over the school holidays and the It’s Your Choice show in the garden where you get to decide which direction the adventure will take.

Quarry Bank is one of the most picturesque places in the region to visit at all times of year, from the excitement of the gushing river Bollin, the wild woodland, expansive meadows and beautifully restored dramatic cliffside gardens complete with caves, glasshouse, winding paths, beautiful planting and picture-perfect views to explore. It’s good news for families all round that some of the incredible stories can be explored outside in this way.

Quarry Bank admission charges apply.

Journeys of the Imagination at Quarry Bank, Cheshire

5 May–28 October 2018
Quarry Bank admission prices apply (free for National Trust members)