19 3 / 2013

As part of the Impossible Machines project, I went to visit the Masson Mills over in Matlock. I needed some inspiration and I figured seeing 200-odd year old machinery would be a great foundation for the rest of the project. I’ve been to the more commercial shop-based side of the Mill many times in the past, but I’ve never before been to the museum.

The museum itself was bigger than I thought; chilled by the winter air it was a treasure trove of mechanical gears, spikes and looms. Entering the museum I was met with a room that was narrow but very long and filled with rows of machinery I don’t have a clue what purpose it served when the mill was running. A gas mask was hidden amongst other odd bits-and-bobs on the shelving in this first room. On a side table was a series of metal cogs, arranged to illustrate how some of the machinery worked. Further along this room was an even greater number of machines used to process the cotton. In a side passage cutting through a medium dark and dank room was filled with expansive machinery with a variety of archaic tools hung up on the wall, clearly untouched for a long time. This was a machine shop where the machinery in the main shop was repaired.

The last rooms I looked in were even bigger and longer than the first; about the width of a house but perhaps the length of half a football pitch! It was filled left and right with giant metal machinery. A series of looms to the left and a machine that had a series of hundreds of threads ready to be threaded together and made into sheets of wool or cotton to be used for clothing. Lastly there was a boiler room, the energy centre of the facility at one point. There were 3 boilers painted black and red that were as big as the first floor of a house.

Overall it was good to go and see the big machines, even though it would have been more enlightening to have been taken on a tour of the facility by someone working at the museum. Unfortunately I went at the wrong time for this. I still got some great pictures and most importantly of all it got the cogs in my head spinning, giving me some great ideas that I can take forward into the rest of the project.