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British Industrial History

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R. Greg and Co

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of Quarry Bank Mill, Styal, Cheshire and Reddish, Lancashire, cotton spinners.

and from 1891 of Albert Mill, Reddish, Stockport.

1784-1952 (approximately 7 shelves)

Greg deeds and plans, circa 1613-1967 (10 boxes) can be found in an uncatalogued collection of Greg family papers. (C25/)

1780 Samuel Greg became a partner in the business of his uncles, Robert and Nathaniel Hyde.

1783 He took over the business, which continued as Samuel Greg and Co. Construction of Quarry Bank Mill, Styal, Cheshire, began in 1783 and was completed by 1784. Samuel Greg had a number of different partners in the Quarry Bank Mill business, including Peter Ewart, an engineer.

1796 Quarry Bank Mill began as a water-powered cotton spinning mill. Steam engines were used for supplementary power from 1796.

1806 Land was acquired in Peter Street, Manchester. A steam-driven mule mill was built and this remained a Greg concern until 1815.

1813 They had an interest in Low Mill, Caton, near Lancaster, from 1813 and acquired the mill in 1817. This was a cotton spinning mill until 1837, when power weaving was also introduced.

After 1815, most of the partners in the various Greg ventures were members of the family. The Manchester-based firm, formerly run by his uncles, became the marketing business for the yarn and cloth produced by the Greg mills.

1816 Apprentices constituted a third of the labour force. Children came from as far afield as Liverpool and even London.

1820s New constructions at Styal included workers cottages, the Norcliffe Chapel and Oak School.

1822 Moor Lane Mill in Lancaster was purchased and began operating as a steam-powered spinning and weaving mill in 1824.

1825-28 The Gregs were involved with a mill in Ancoats, Manchester.

1827 They acquired Hudcar Mill, Bury, a cotton spinning and weaving mill, which Samuel's son William Rathbone Greg was to manage by way of apprenticeship to the family partnership.

1830s Weaving began at the Bury mill.

1832 Lowerhouse Mill, Bollington, near Macclesfield, Cheshire, a spinning and weaving concern, was leased.

1834 Samuel Greg died.

1841 The family partnership broke up, with each of his sons taking over the mill they had previously been managing. Quarry Bank Mill and the Manchester business became the responsibility of Robert Hyde Greg.

1847 The use of apprentices ended at Styal. Many of the free labourers at the mill also came from other areas of England in the first half of the 19th century. Weaving was mainly done by women and girls A factory colony gradually grew up around the mill to supply the needs of the workers. A spinning and doubling mill in Calver, Derbyshire, was rented. Greg involvement continued until 1864. Construction of the Victoria and Albert Mill, Reddish, was completed in 1847. Victoria Mill was sold, but Albert Mill went on to become a highly successful Greg cotton spinning concern.

From 1848 the business was carried on under the name R. H. Greg and Co.

1856 Robert Hyde Greg was joined in partnership by his third son, Henry Russell Greg.

1865 After Robert Hyde Greg retired, the Manchester business continued as Greg Brothers, primarily active as commission agents, specialising in the sale of coarse yarn and cloth from Greg and other mills.

1875 On Robert Hyde Greg's death, H. R. Greg took control, in partnership with Charles Sharpe Parker.

1881 The firm also went into manufacturing. They acquired a spinning and doubling mill in Stockport, Cheshire, and acted as managing directors of Cressbrook Mills, Derbyshire, a cotton weaving business, from 1881.

In addition to their manufacturing concerns, the Gregs held extensive estates. These included the Oak Farm and Styal estates, at Styal; property in Reddish, Manchester and Caton; extensive lands in Hertfordshire; land in New York State, U.S.A. and sugar plantations in the West Indies.

1887 Henry Philips Greg began work at Albert Mill, Reddish.

1894 On Henry Russell Greg's death, Henry Philips Greg became sole partner in R. Greg and Co of Reddish. He expanded and modernized the mill, shifting production towards fancy yarns used in upholstery, and replaced flyer throstles and mule spindles with ring spindles. These moves later ensured the mill's competitive success in the 1920s and 1930s.

1894 Weaving became the mill’s sole concern from 1894 onwards. Because the local labour supply was insufficient for the mill’s needs, workers had to be brought in from further afield. Many of the earlier cotton spinning workers were children, aged ten and upwards, apprenticed by their parents or by the poor law authorities. More than half of these were girls.

1903/4 The water wheel at Styal was replaced by a water turbine system.

1939 The mill at Styal was given to the National Trust, with Styal village and estate.


of Reddish, Stockport (1891)

of Albert Mill, Reddish, (South Reddish), Stockport. Telephone: Stockport 645 (1929)

1891 Directory (Stockport): Listed as Cotton spinner and manufacturer. More details

1929 Listed Exhibitor. Manufacturers of, Spinners and Doublers of Cotton Yarns, 4's to 36's in hank, warp, cheese, cone, pirn**. Hosiery and Marl Yarns. Fancy Yarns of every description in Cotton and Artificial Silk for manufacturing. Machine Knitting Yarns. (Stand No. S.44) [1]

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1929 British Industries Fair Page 72
  • Manchester Archives
  • Biography of Henry Philips Greg, ODNB [1]