Discover Milford – Milford Heritage Walks
These three Milford heritage walks are set out below, or available as a pdf to download here, best printed on A3:
Milford Walks leaflet pdf
Discover Milford, one of the key communities within the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. It was here that Jedediah Strutt and his sons expanded the cotton spinning business they had started in Belper, and by building and buying homes and facilities for their workers created one of the world’s first industrial communities.
From the 1780s, when Jedediah Strutt began building in the ancient hamlet of New Mills, life here mainly centred on the textile industry. Even today, most buildings in Milford and the neighbouring village of Makeney are linked with the area’s industrial development, and help tell the story of the workers who lived in the shadow of the mills.
In 2001, the universal significance of the textile mills beside the River Derwent was recognised when the stretch of valley between Matlock Bath and Derby was designated a World Heritage Site.
These short walks look at some of the most significant sites in Milford and Makeney. The starting point for each walks is the interpretation board opposite the Strutt Arms on the A6 main road, which will tell you more about this industrial community, and show you how it has changed in the past two centuries.
Makeney Road Walk
Cross the road bridge, opened in 1793. This bridge was initiated by Jedediah Strutt and handed over to the Turnpike Trust. The cost together with the bridge over the cut and the toll houses was £2143 17s 1d. Down below its south-eastern corner are the remains of the old Toll House, largely demolished when the bridge was widened in 1906. Tolls were collected for the use of the bridge as well as the roads.
Walk south along Makeney Road. Across the river are the sluice gates for the mills. You can also see the weirs and the paved river bed which ensured fast flowing water.
Forge Cottage, further along on the left, was once the home of the forge manager.
The Garden Centre, opposite, occupies the site of the ancient forges, and the former Corn Mill, built by the Strutt Company in 1820. If the Garden Centre is open, go through and enjoy the views from the footbridge. Installed in 1976, it replaces a suspension bridge designed by William Strutt in 1826 and demolished just after World War II. What appear to be round stones at the river’s edge below the Mill House terrace wall are in fact cakes of iron slag from the forges.
On the right, further down Makeney Road, is Forge Steps, five houses built – unusually for these villages – of brick. The row was constructed around 1750 by the iron master Walter Mather who held the lease on the forges, for workers at the forge.
The next turning on the right is the drive of Makeney Hall. Now a hotel, it was the home of various members of the Strutt family from 1818, when purchased by Anthony Radford Strutt, until 1928. Opposite the drive, a line leads to the heart of Makeney.
Follow this to the ancient Holly Bush Inn which stands beside the old coach road from Derby to Sheffield. The lane loops round to rejoin Makeney Road.
Further along Makeney Road, a garage occupies the former Makeney Hall coach house, once the site of Makeney House, the home of John Heath, a notorious Derby Banker and scrivener who became bankrupt. Just beyond is Makeney Yard, a 15th century former farmhouse, bought and converted by the Strutt Company in 1806. The Company also constructed the Terrace, across the yard, in 1820, as a block of eight back-to-back houses.
Beyond the Terrace is Makeney Lodge, built in 1730 by Henry Peat, and extended in 1783 by his son. By 1852 it was the home of the Mill Manager, Captain Holmes, and in the 20th century of H. St John D. Raikes, MP.
Across the Holbrook Road is Red Hill Farm, built in 1834 by Anthony Radford Strutt as a model Farm. Moscow Farm (1815), which can be seen across the river, is another model farm built by the Strutt Company.
Retrace your steps to follow the other walks.
East Milford Walk
Keeping to the pavement opposite the Strutt Arms, walk to the bridge. The buildings to your left are all that remain of the old Milford Mill complex. The footprint of the mills is no longer traceable, but two wheel-pits survive, one either side of The Mill House public house, and the generator, in the small brick building between the pits, can usually be heard. Water power is still harnessed for energy supplies. The group facing you, under the cliff at the eastern end of the bridge, were developed after enclosure of the common land in 1791.
The former Ebenezer Chapel, on the right, was converted in 1859 from the Durham Ox beerhouse, built in 1846 by Henry Brassington. The neighbouring King William pub was built around 1830 on land purchased by the Belper surveyor and architect John Hutton. Further north, the Recreation Ground occupies an area worked as a quarry until at least 1906.
Holy Trinity Parish Church was built between 1846 and 1848 in an early English style by H Moffat. Its unusual north-south orientation is due to the constraints of the site, donated by members of the Strutt family.
It stands at the end of Hopping Hill, part of the former turnpike road named from the Old English ‘hop’, meaning a small opening off a main valley and ‘ing’ meaning a clearing. The rows here were developed in the 1790s by Jedediah Strutt to house his workers, about thirty years before the present main road was laid out by the Strutt Company. Walk northwards along Derby Road – Duke’s Buildings were constructed when the road was built on land purchased from the Duke of Devonshire.
To your left are the river and weir. This area, known as Hopping Mill, has been at various times the site of ancient forges, a corn mill, a fulling and dyeing house, a gas works and a foundry. Part of this site was purchased by Jedediah Strutt in 1781 in order to obtain the water power needed for his cotton spinning mills 500 yards down the valley.
Climb the steps by the New Inn (1792), and turn right onto Hopping Hill. Take the jitty between the rows on your left, and at the top turn right up Shaw Lane. A short way along on your right, at an angle to the road, are East and West Terraces (1818-20). Most of this ingeniously-designed block consists of two-storey double-fronted houses on its east side, interlocking with a larger number of three-storey single-fronted houses facing across the valley.
Steps at the far end of the Terrace lead down past allotment gardens and the Church back to the War Memorial and Roll of Honour.
Retrace your steps south along the main road to follow the other walks.
West Milford Walk
The Strutt Arms, opposite the Information Board, was built in 1901 on the site of a farmhouse. The free-standing wall to its left survives from before the main road was built, and was once continuous with the eastern boundary of this triangle. Walk south to Mount Pleasant, one of Milford’s oldest houses. Its gable is dated 1672, but it may be even holder. Neighbouring Milford House was built for Jedediah Strutt around 1792, and was a Strutt family home for over a century.
Retrace your steps into Chevin Road. The building at the bottom of Sunny Hill now occupied by the Social Club was originally the New Inn, and later the Beehive, before being converted into Milford’s Institute and Reading Room by George Herbert Strutt, in 1902.
A short way up the hill, The Royal Oak on the right, and the adjoining houses above, were built by the Bate family on a plot allotted to their father when the common land was enclosed. The public house continued to hold a licence until the 1950s.
A few yards up on the left, numbers 15-37 form a back-to-back row, built in stages between 1791 and 1824 by entrepreneurs. Its local name, The Barracks, suggests in once housed single mill-workers living away from home.
Most of the old stone houses on Sunny Hill were built from 1792 onwards by entrepreneurs and later sold to Anthony Radford Strutt to house his workers.
At the top of the hill, directly over the Chevin railway tunnel, stands Stephensons’ Tower. Built about 1839 by the North Midland Railway Co. (Chief Engineers: George and Robert Stephenson), it was used to signal to locomotive drivers that the tunnel, originally single-tracked, was clear to enter and later, after a second track had been laid, to prevent two trains being in the tunnel at once whilst open carriages were still in use. (Please note that there is no public access to the Tower, which stands on privately-owned land.)
Returning down the hill, turn left into Well Lane to see a row of 1790s workers’ houses built by Jedediah Strutt. The well, by the bend, was hidden for many years, but rediscovered in 2002.
At the end of the lane, the Methodist Chapel (1842) has been in commercial use since the 1940s. The Baptist Chapel (1849), nearby on Chevin Road, is still used for worship – its baptismal tank survives in the basement.
Further north, past the entrance to Hopping Hole quarry, is Bank Buildings, built in 1911 on the site of a 1790s row. Families were re-housed three at a time while the properties were re-built by the Strutt Company. The houses have gardens across the road, on the river bank.
Turn back southwards, and on your left is Milford School, in use since the 1820s. As the School is built into the slope there is a lower storey at the rear, from where a gate leads to the Mill site. This was used by “half-time” children to move between work and education.
Down the steps is Chevin Alley (1792), a row whose irregular façade reflects an interlocking layout. The courses of stonework are horizontal at the front, but at the back follow the slope of the ground! The extension at No 1 once housed a Post Office. The next-door building, on the main road, is the old Mill Canteen.