Last Saturday I was fortunate to visit Quarry Bank Mill, a property owned by the National Trust near Styal in Cheshire.
It was my first visit, and I was in awe of the scope of the property which told a vast and complex story. The wealthy Greg Family who owned the cotton mill, the weavers and workers, the children apprentices and their minders, the context of the industrial revolution, sweeping changes in technology, the micro culture of mill workers, and the evolving human rights for children.
These were all things I knew, things I’ve been taught before; briefly glazed over thousands of miles away across the sea of time in my high school history classroom. History, was one of my favorite subjects, and I had an excellent teacher, one who made the distant stories in our thick imposing text books come to life.
Despite his skill in the craft of teaching, no description could leave a more lasting impression than standing in the weaving shed at Quarry Bank Mill, deafened by the sound of industry. Many a person may say “Those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it.” and while that is most certainly true, there is also something to be said for never having the opportunity to experience history coming to life before your eyes.
While I wouldn’t wish the living conditions of those mill workers on anyone, it deeply grieves me to think that many people never get to experience the awe and fortune I felt standing in the weaving shed.
Fast forward a week, and one of the world’s most iconic places of heritage has been damaged in a catastrophic fire. I would like to take the chance to urge you, one human to another; go see the places you want to see. Go stand in awe and reverence in the places where humanity has left a mark, because you never know when it may be too late to visit.
My thoughts are with the people of Paris and the guardians of culture and heritage. Thank you for preserving the story of humanity.