Tales of conflict are to be retold using the words and belongings of those who lived and died during the First World War.

Quarry Bank Mill in Styll will display previously unseen letters, scrapbooks and artefacts for an exhibition to commemorate the start of the war.

Heroes of Adventure has taken a year of research and tells the stories of the mill owners, workers and villagers of Styal.

For those who delved into the archives it has been an emotional experience as they discovered the bravery, love and humour involved in everyone’s stories.

“The perseverance, optimism and ability to crack a joke during the most traumatic of circumstances is very inspiring,” said Property Operations Assistant Laura Collins, who helped curate the exhibition.

“The more you learn about the people the more attached you get and at times we were choked up reading their letters to each other.”

Part of the exhibition focuses on the stories of siblings Madge, Helen, Arthur, and Bobby Greg, the children of Ernest Greg, who co-owned Quarry Bank Mill.

Both brothers were killed within a year of one another. Arthur was shot down in 1917 during an aerial assault by German pilots.

His story is told in the exhibition through letters he sent to his parents and poetry written by his grieving fiancée Marian Allen.A hip flask he was carrying when he was shot down will also be on display.

“Through what he wrote we watch him grow from an optimistic, somewhat naïve boy, into a courageous, battle-hardened man,” said Laura.

Barely a year after his brother’s death Robert, a Liaison Officer with the Cheshire Regiment, was also killed when a shell was dropped on his dug-out.

The Greg sisters are known to have helped save thousands of lives during the war as they both served as VAD nurses.Madge performed her duties across France, including at dressing stations at Ypres. Her practicality and no-nonsense style shines through her scrapbook entries which are in the exhibition.

Helen’s story is one of love. She met Sir Guy Lloyd whilst they were both on leave and married before the end of the war.

Heroes of Adventure also tells the stories of mill workers including loom overlooker Edward Cooper who was called up in 1916.

His loom remained silent for the rest of the First World War, but he returned and later received a pocket watch from Arthur and Bobby’s younger brother Alec , for 56 years of service.

“What the exhibition shows is that it didn’t matter who you were, or where you came from, the war affected everyone’s lives,” said Laura.

Heroes of Adventure is free although normal admission charges for the mill apply. It is open daily from June 7 to November 16 from 11am to 4pm.


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