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Our Village

Styal is the least altered and perhaps best-preserved factory colony in this country. Styal was no more than a rural hamlet before the Mill was built in 1784, but by 1840, it was a thriving village, most of whose inhabitants worked in the Mill.
"there were few houses, the farmers not excepted, which had not wheels a-going in them."
Samuel Finney
Historical Survey of the Parish of Wilmslow 1775


When the Mill opened in 1784 Samuel Greg needed to employ workers. First these people were from Styal and nearby villages. In 1788 Greg began building an Apprentice House to accommodate pauper children from workhouses in other parts of the country or from families who could not afford to look after their children. As the Mill prospered, so did Styal Village. In 1790 there were 183 workers (excluding apprentices) at the Mill and 50 years later there were 435.
Before the Mill was built, Styal was an isolated rural hamlet of farmsteads and outbuildings. The early workforce were housed in converted outbuildings such as the Dutch barn at Farm Fold, but this supply was quickly exhausted. In 1806, a programme of house building commenced for the expanding workforce.

The new housing consisted of short rows of two storey terraces with their own back yards and privies, separated from the next row by a passageway. All had cellars, many of which being separately accessible from outside. There were also a small number of three storey houses. Each cottage had its own allotment. Rents were deducted from salaries at source (as were shop purchases).

Housing was of a good quality, with good ventilation and drainage. The numbers living in a household in Styal were often smaller than those living in a single room in a Northern industrial town.

By the 1820's, a chapel, school and shop had been built as the village developed into a community. Some of the earliest millworkers had settled in the village and had children who also worked at the Mill. Conditions were undoubtedly better than was the norm at the time, with fresher and more varied produce adding to the healthier environment.


Today, Styal is a unique, engaging place, with much to interest every member of the family. The Styal Estate covers some 384 acres of lovely countryside where you can enjoy riverside walks, discover the social and industrial heritage by chatting to people who have spent their lives working in the mills, visit the mill shop, or simply relax soaking up the atmosphere of a vanished era.

Worth a mention is the fact that Styal is the birthplace of Terry Waite, humanitarian and author who was held hostage by Beirut terrorists in the latter half of the 20th century.

An Historical and Regional Survey of the Village of Styal, Cheshire
H. R. McClure
The Geographical Journal, Vol. 93, No. 6 (Jun., 1939), pp. 512-520