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How useful is visible evidence in explaining the development of power at Styal Mill

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How useful is visible evidence in explaining the development of power at Styal Mill On the 23rd of September a group of yr11 students attended Quarry Bank Mill in order to obtain visible evidence to carry out their history coursework. Visible evidence Horsepower The visible evidence I observed and obtained contained various sources to suggest horsepower was present a Styal Mill. During my tour around Quarry Bank Mill there was various indications to suggest horsepower was present at the Mill. The first evidence I saw was what I believed to be Stables, but due to renovation some vital evidence of the building may have been lost in an attempt to build an information area for visitors to Quarry Bank Mill. Some features such as the hay eyes and the big doors are still original features of the building today. The hay eyes would have been used to feed the horses and the large doors would have provided an entrance for a horse to bring a cart in containing materials. The courtyard was cobbled this presented clear evidence that horses were present at Styal Mill, without cobbles the horses wouldn't have been able to grip. Horses would have been used to transport materials and possibly provide energy for the Mill through the use of a horse gin. A horse gin was a device that used a horse to create power as it walked in a rotary motion it moved a turntable, which in turn would have created power. However in my opinion the possible horse gin I saw was in fact a gasometre because with closer examination is was evident that a horse gin would have been too far from the main body of the Mill to transfer the energy. Also I could see no obvious entrance or exit for a horse to gain access to the horse gin. Gasometres were a liability as they could begin an outburst of fire across the Mill therefore it would have made sense to place a gasometre in this position as it would not have caused a spread of fire across the main body of the Mill. ...read more.


Furthermore this to me indicates that the publication is authentic. This document explains how Samuel Gregg founded the Mill next to the river Bollin because it was "a natural choice of site". It goes on to explain how "it had a good fall of water" and "a large volume if water". This overall shows that Styal Mill was made specifically for waterpower originally. Further evidence of this is how it explains that the Mill had an overshot wheel. This was a main feature of waterpower systems. A map done by an ordinance survey provides evidence, this means that the map is done by the government therefore it will be an accurate and reliable document. The map states that there is a gasometer and a weir in the vicinity of the Mill. This tells me that the earlier debate of whether the circular pit is a horse gin or gasometer is now concluded due to the gasometer being stated on the map. This also tells me that it is a lot less likely that horsepower was used. Overall there is clear evidence on the use of gas; however, I still believe it is unlikely that gas was used for anything else other than powering lights. The map also identifies the weir. This backs up previous visible evidence on the Mill having a weir and using it. Although the map is fairly reliable, it isn't very precise. For example the boundaries are quite vague and this could hamper how precise the information is. As well as that, I have a document, which states the progression in the Mills construction course. For example it states in 1784 the Mill was built with one single wheel and one tailrace. This shows that the Mill was built for waterpower. Also, it shows the progression of an extra wheel but also the addition of steam backup and a chimney. This tells me that in 1800, they began to use steam, which is also the second power source in Quarry Bank Mill's history. ...read more.


For example, the debate about whether the circular pit was a gassometer or horse gin. I could look at other evidence such as OS maps to give me a precise answer of what it was. Weaknesses Now looking at the weaknesses of visible evidence. The main problem with visible evidence is that it can often be misleading to someone looking at it. The viewer can draw their conclusions about what they are looking at, but because the evidence is in a museum, some of the evidence might have been moved. A good example of this is the axle in the car park. This was obviously not an accurate and genuine feature to the mill because there was no evidence of any water wheels within its perimeters. Therefore, the axle must have been either moved up from the main building or taken from a completely different mill as a scrap part. The museum chooses to do this for such reasons as decorative display etc. and this makes it misleading. The fact that the mill is a museum also highlights such things as renovation. For example, in order to build shops at Styal, owners have renovated the stables. This shows another weakness of visible evidence as in this process evidence is altered. It made my debate of whether horsepower was used more difficult, as I couldn't see inside the stables or previous buildings that may have been related to horsepower. Another example of this is how the waterwheel at Styal Mill was a restored model but I would have had no way of concluding this if I had been using visible evidence alone. Overall, visible evidence has as much strength as it does weaknesses and on the whole I feel that background evidence is crucial in order to get precise information. Where as visible evidence lets me get right there for an in depth look at things, the overshadowing fact that Styal is a museum tells me that changes have been made and this makes it somewhat unreliable. ...read more.

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