Key Sites – Milford
Strutt next turned his attention to Milford where, in March 1781, he bought Makeney forge and, soon after, adjoining property. Later in the same year he bought Hopping Mill Meadow, a site which included a fulling mill. Advertisements for labour suggest the mill Strutt built here was still being constructed as late as 1784. By 1789 there were two mills at work on the site, one of which was a printing mill. In 1788, the Strutts had expressed the intention of taking up bleaching and had turned to Samuel Oldknow for advice; it is probable that it was his expertise in printing that enabled them to establish their Milford mill. A further mill was constructed in 1793.
The next phase of development
In 1789 the Strutts valued their investments in the mills at Belper and Milford at £26,000 and £11,000 respectively and claimed a return of £36,000 per annum. No doubt it was this income stream and the proceeds of their hosiery business which drove forward the Strutts’ development of their Belper site. The construction of the West Mill began in 1793 and was still in progress at the end of 1796. It was 61 metres long and, like the Strutts’ earlier fire-proof building in Derby, it made use of brick arches and floors, hollow pot arches in the sixth storey and timber beams supported by iron columns. It was powered by two water wheels, one of 12.2 and the second of 14.6 metres width and diameters of 5.5 and 3.7 metres respectively. The goyt which had serviced the two earlier mills was no longer adequate and it was necessary to build a more substantial weir, dig out the banks of the river, and from the vast acreage of water so created, take a supply from a new cut running close by the North Mill and across the site to the new West Mill. By August 1796, the design and location of the new weir had been sketched on a plan and over the next 12 months, this remarkable structure was completed. Over the same period, the Strutts rebuilt the bridge which had been destroyed by a flood in 1795. The new bridge was completed in 1797.