Darlow Smithson Productions films period TV drama The Mill in historic Cheshire
London-based Darlow Smithson Productions filmed on location in Cheshire in north-western England for Channel 4’s period TV miniseries The Mill. Set in the early 1830s, the series charts the daily lives and struggles of mill workers during Britain’s Industrial Revolution.
Filming focussed on the historic Quarry Bank Mill near Manchester for a shoot in February and March. The story is drawn from the mill’s own historical archive, which details the 300 workers - including pauper children – who worked there in 1833. Now a National Trust property, Quarry Bank is the only water-powered Georgian cotton mill still operating in the UK.
“The production spent six weeks filming at Quarry Bank,” explains the National Trust’s Rachel Whalley: “Interiors were used for several different parts of the actual mill, including the Apprentice House, which was home to the pauper children at the time.
“Big changes were made to the exterior. All the modern signage had to be taken down, cotton bales and horse dung were added and fake cobbles were used to cover the contemporary tarmac.”
The building remained open to the public during filming, but was closed to visitors for two days a week during its usual winter schedule, which aided the production team over the course of the shoot.
Filming in the mill’s actual machine room wasn’t possible as this part of the building is now set up with extensive walkways to allow visitors to safely view the period equipment. These scenes were instead filmed at the disused Murray Mills in Manchester and the cast was trained to use prop looms that were specially designed and built for the shoot.
The Mill is the latest period miniseries to come to UK television. Filming for the BBC’s rural drama production The Village – which tells a story beginning in the early 20th Century – also took place near Manchester in the Derbyshire village of Hayfield.
The Mill is screening in the UK on Channel 4 on Sunday nights.
(The Mill production still: Channel 4; Quarry Bank Mill photo: NTPL/John Millar)
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