The North West
30th September - 3rd October 2019
One of a series of unique, small-group tours, staying in good quality hotels and led by the key experts in the field, exploring the impact of technology on our great country houses and the people who lived and worked there.
Led by Dr Ian West
3 nights, half-board in a 4 star Country House hotel - from £620 per person
( Includes about £105 of entrance and special tour fees. Discount for NT & AIA members )
Book online now

During the late 18th and 19th centuries a variety of technological innovations were becoming available to enhance the comfort and convenience of domestic life but, far from urban centres, the great Country Houses had to be self sufficient in the provision of gas, electricity, sanitation and water supply if they wished to make use of them.

Subsequently, the decline of many country houses, together with their being donated to the National Trust and their opening to the public, has meant that less alteration has taken place than in domestic property and evidence survives of the impact which these innovations had on the buildings, landscape and social structure.

For a number of years Professor Marilyn Palmer and Dr Ian West have been studying the technology in a wide range of country houses, examining both the physical remains and the historical evidence and trying to place them in the wider context of the effects they had on country house servants as well as house owners, families and guests.

Heritage of Industry is delighted to have secured Prof. Palmer and Dr West to lead this series of unique tours where they will guide us through some of theses grand residences, help us to understand some of the fascinating artefacts still to be seen and explain how they changed the lives of those who lived there – both above and below stairs.

Unlike coach company tours, which rely on the normal guides, our expert leaders, working in conjunction with the Collections Managers, give a unique insight to these properties. In most cases, we secure access to the properties early in the day when the houses are not yet open to the public so that we will have the place to ourselves for the duration of the tour and in certain cases are granted permission to see areas not normally open to the public.

At each property, after our special tour, we try to make time for you to further explore the house and gardens.

This tour takes in three iconic country houses in North-West England: Lyme Park, Dunham Massey and Tatton Park together with a visit to the outstanding textile spinning community at Styal, where the National Trust have been developing the interpretation of Quarry Bank Mill itself and of the surrounding village and have recently restored the mill owners’ house and garden.


Day 1

The tour begins at the very comfortable, 4 star Mere Court Country House Hotel which stands in 7 acres of gardens near Knutsford in Cheshire with a restaurant which has been awarded an AA Rosette.

The group will assemble for dinner at 19:00 served in a private room after which there will be a talk by our expert guide Dr Ian West which will give an introduction to Country House Technology highlighting some of the features we can expect to see during our tour.

Overnight at the Mere Court Hotel.

Day 2

In the morning we will have a short drive to Lyme Park.

Lyme Park dates back to the late Tudor period but was completely re-modelled in the early 18th and early 19th centuries. Modernisation in the Edwardian period included a picturesque timber yard complex which housed the generator house. The house and grounds have featured in numerous films and television productions, including the BBC adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice”.

We will have a tour of the house led by Ian West in conjunction with house staff, before it opens to the public, followed by a tour of the 1904 Timber Yard complex which housed the generator plant. Group members will then be free to tour the gardens or re-visit the house on their own.

Lunch is available in the Timber yard café or the Ale Cellar Tea Room on site.

In the afternoon we will visit Quarry Bank Mill which is one of Britain's greatest industrial heritage sites, showing how a complete industrial community lived and overflowing with the atmosphere of the Industrial Revolution. The mill was built in 1784 by the Greg family and was powered by Europe's most powerful working waterwheel. Quarry Bank's archive provided the inspiration for Channel 4's popular drama “The Mill”.

Group members will enjoy a specially arranged tour, led by a National Trust guide, which will highlight the mill's power systems and the on-going restoration of the site.

After the organised tour group members will be free to take their own time enjoying the many different aspects of the site.

Return to the hotel for dinner with the group after which the evening is at leisure.

Overnight at the Mere Court Hotel

Day 3

We will spend all day at Tatton Park - an historical estate with a neo-classical mansion, 50 acres of landscaped gardens, 1000 acres of deer park, a rare breed farm and medieval Old Hall.

For nearly 400 years the estate was the property of the Egerton family until it was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1958. This is one of the most complete historic estates open to visitors. The early 19th-century mansion is opulently decorated, providing a fine setting for the Egerton family's extensive collections. The theme of Victorian grandeur extends into the garden with its glasshouses, formal gardens, Italian and Japanese gardens.

But what makes the house remarkable for us is that recent research has revealed it to have been perhaps the most technically advanced domestic property in Britain at the end of the 19th century.

We will begin with a short introductory talk by Ian followed by our unique tour of the mansion.

Members will then be free to explore the gardens and see exhibits in the Stable Yard.

Lunch is available at the Stables Restaurant or the New Gardener’s Cottage tea room.

After lunch we will be transported to the water-powered water pump house, which is still operational, and then to the Home Farm to gain an understanding of the project to restore and improve the presentation of this unique example of a country house model farm.

After dinner at the hotel, Ian will talk on the more technical aspects of Country House Technology.

Overnight at the Mere Court Hotel.

Day 4

In the morning we will visit Dunham Massey.

The house was built in the 1730s by George Booth, 2nd Earl of Warrington. At 19 he inherited a debt-ridden estate and a house in poor condition and dedicated his life to restoring its fortunes – beginning with a marriage to a wealthy merchant’s daughter for her dowry. He began the reconstruction of the hall in around 1715 and shrewd investments included the purchase of exceptional quality silver, fine furniture and paintings. He planted thousands of trees in the park in the design which remains today. The house passed to the Grey family, Earls of Stamford, in which it remained for several generations. The 10th Earl was a popular landlord who took great care of the estate and his tenants and throughout his life he tried to reacquire many of the works of art that had been removed in the 19th century. On his death he bequeathed the house, all of its contents and the 3000 acre estate to the National Trust.

Today, Dunham Massey is a splendidly harmonious Georgian house with many fascinating technological features for us to inspect, including a hydraulic lift and a water-powered saw mill.

The house and mill will be closed to the public but we will first enjoy a tour of the house arranged specially for our group followed by a tour with a National Trust guide which will enable us to visit the water-powered saw mill and some of the other estate buildings.

Group members will then be free to tour the gardens.

Lunch is available at the café in the visitor centre or the stable block restaurant.

After the visit the coach will drop off at Knutsford Station by 15:00 and then the Mere Court Hotel, where the tour ends.


Dr Ian West
Ian graduated in Engineering before joining the gas industry. He became a Chartered Engineer and held a number of engineering and senior management posts before leaving industry to study Industrial Archaeology at Birmingham University’s Ironbridge Institute, where he obtained his MA. He did his Doctoral studies in the University of Leicester’s School of Archaeology, researching the impact of artificial lighting on early factories. He is an honorary visiting fellow at the University of Leicester and has given numerous papers and lectures on utility industries, domestic technology and other aspects of industrial archaeology.


Not forgetting your own comfort and convenience, this tour includes accommodation at the very comfortable, 4 star Mere Court Country House Hotel which stands in 7 acres of landscaped gardens 4 miles north-west of Knutsford in Cheshire.

All rooms are en-suite, have tea and coffee making facilities, telephone, digital TV, hair dryer, complimentary mineral water. Free WiFi is available throughout the hotel.


The tour starts and ends at the Mere Court Hotel. We leave you to make your own travel arrangements to and from Knutsford to suit your own convenience and use of alternative departure points.

Travel during the tour will be by luxury, air-conditioned mini-coach.

After the Thursday morning visit the coach will drop off at Knutsford Station by 15:00 and then the hotel.

Detailed joining instructions will be supplied about 2 weeks before the start of the tour.


The cost of the tour is £620 per person sharing, single supplement £135. The single supplement reflects the additional charges made by the hotel for single occupancy.

There is a discount of £60 per person for National Trust members. NT membership cards must be carried with you. If you're not an NT member and want to visit at least one other NT property during the year it would be worth your while joining.

In addition Heritage of Industry is pleased to offer a discount of £10 per booking to any paid-up member of the Association for Industrial Archaeology at the time of the tour. Learn more about the AIA here:

In organising these very specialist and unique, small group, tours we do not enjoy the same economies of scale which are available to us for our larger group tours. Nevertheless we believe that the cost represents excellent value for money and compares very favourably with other specialist operators.

The cost includes:
  • An itinerary packed with visits to fascinating sites
  • 3 nights dinner, bed & breakfast in 4* accommodation
  • Luxury air conditioned coach transport to all sites and driver tip
  • All entrance and special tour fees (amounting to about £105)
  • Uniquely qualified expert guiding and services of an experienced tour manager throughout
  • Research for the visit
  • Professionally produced, comprehensive tour notes
Excluded are:
  • Lunches
  • Drinks
  • Expenses at the hotels other than dinner, bed & breakfast
All costs are in Pounds Sterling (GBP) and are based on present accommodation, transport costs and taxes. Any change in these may necessitate a price change.


Please note that cancellation charges will apply from 5th August 2019, and, although these will be modified to the extent that costs are not actually incurred, you are strongly advised to insure against the need to cancel.

Non-UK residents also need to consider medical treatment and repatriation charges in the event of illness etc. Participants who do not have travel insurance must nevertheless accept full responsibility for these eventualities.


Non-UK residents must ensure that they carry a valid passport for entry into the UK. You may also need a visa. To check visa requirements visit the UK Border Agency website: Heritage of Industry cannot be held responsible for any problems with entry into the United Kingdom.


Bookings will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to space availability. Booking is subject to a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 20 people . Book as soon as possible and by 5th August 2019 to ensure a place but please feel free to enquire after that date if a place is still available. We will contact you as soon as possible to confirm the booking and to issue an invoice for the balance of the price.

A non-refundable deposit of £60 per person is required on booking. Bookings can be made definite only when the booking details and deposit are received and accepted in writing/email by Heritage of Industry Ltd. The company's standard terms and conditions apply. The balance of the price is to be paid to Heritage of Industry Ltd on presentation of the invoice. All monies paid to Heritage of Industry Ltd will be held, in accordance with government regulations**, in a customer protection account until the tour is complete so that your money is safe no matter what happens.

Click here to book online

Click here to download a printable version of all the above and a booking form to post

Enquiries about this tour should be directed to:

Bill Barksfield
Managing Director
Heritage of Industry Ltd, The Gables, 20 Main Road, East Hagbourne, Oxon OX11 9LN UK
Tel: +44 1235 352275  (9am - 5.30pm GMT)

** The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 (SI 1992 No. 3288)