Samuel Greg inherited almost thirty thousand pounds as a result of his uncle’s death; this meant that he was in a good financial position to take a risk. If the mill he built was unsuccessful he would still have another business, also inherited from his uncle, and a lot of money to fall back on. He regularly went to the country where he felt he could erect a mill; he also wanted to forge a career in the cotton industry somewhere other than Manchester city centre, presumably owing to the high cost of land there. At the time when Greg was anxious to find a suitable site for his mill, it is evident that the cotton industry was rapidly growing.
We know that the astronomical growth of the industry in the second half of the eighteenth century was remarkable. One of the main reasons for this increase in the industry was the dissolution of Arkwright’s Spinning patent. This led to many mills being erected and set to work speedily. Manufacturers could now afford to buy machinery and get their businesses underway. With this in consideration, Greg was going to need some space for possible expansion if his business was successful. The towns were full to capacity with factories and he decided the country would have a sufficient amount of space for any possible expansion he may later require.
Samuel Greg was adopted by his uncle when he was young. As mentioned above, he was brought up working with his uncle in his merchant manufacturing business in Manchester. He was made a junior partner in the firm which meant he had a lot of expertise concerning the cotton industry. He had worked in the atmosphere of a factory so knew that he was capable of running his own. When his uncle died he decided it would raise his profits if he spun the cotton for use in his uncle’s business in his own mill. The site around quarry bank mill is remote and vacant.
The land is in the countryside and would have come cheaply to Greg. The area near to Styal mill is used for farming; however, the mill itself is sited on land unsuitable for farming. It is very steep and would not be appropriate for grazing animals nor growing crops. When I visited the site, it was clear to see that there was a lot of forestry and it was very remote so when Greg’s mill was started, it very much would have been in the middle of nowhere so Greg was able to rent it cheaply from the Earl of Stamford. Technological advances in cotton spinning were being developed in and around Manchester.
James Hargreaves produced the Spinning Jenny, Samuel Crompton invented the Spinning Mule and Richard Arkwright developed the Water Frame. Being only twelve miles from the technological advancements and the factories of Manchester gave Samuel Greg a competitive edge. He could easily compete with the mills in the town centre as he had a lot of good transportation methods. The side of the Bridgewater canal was home to the warehouse that was used by the Gregs to store their cotton. I know that the canal is close to the river Bollin which flows through Styal, so the cotton could easily have been transported down the river and directly to the mill.
As Styal is quite close to Manchester, it would be easy to transport the cotton for twelve miles by road or river. The river Bollin flows through Styal. In the days when Greg was building his mill water and wind were the only power supplies feasible. He said, “No power known for driving mills but wind and water. ” This meant that he would need a piece of land near to a fast flowing river. Styal fitted the bill perfectly with the river Bollin valley in the location where the mill was to be built. Labour would be an important issue when placing a mill. Greg would need to have somewhere nearby that would supply him with apprentices.
The nearby city of Manchester had a workhouse that would pay Greg to take the children. The vicar of Biddoph offered Samuel Greg parish children as apprentices. This would supply him with his apprentices but he still needed adult workers and supervisors. The village of Styal was a farming village so there were people willing to make more money by working in the mill, and since the agricultural industry was depressed it meant many people may be grateful of a job. If cotton fibre is allowed to dry out, the whole process of spinning becomes impossible because the thread weakens and snaps.
As Styal is situated in a valley, it meant that the Cheshire climate was ideal to handle raw cotton fibre. I think that the most important factor that Samuel Greg would consider when deciding where to build a new mill would be the power supply. Without a good power supply he would not be able to power his mill. There would be no point in starting a mill anywhere where power was not readily available. The site at Styal is in The Bollin valley and would have a very strong water force to power the mill. I think all of the other factors are of equal importance to each other but need for power supply would definitely be the most important.