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News from the Derwent Valley Mills

August 2021
Cromford Mills
News from the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site
Job Opportunity at Derby City Council:
Full-time Conservation Officer

Derby City Council are looking for a highly skilled conservation professional to become part of their motivated team which works with a wealth of heritage assets including the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, Registered Parks and Gardens, approximately 400 statutory listed buildings, 16 conservation areas and a local list.  For more details see Derby City Council’s website here.

250 Years of Industrial Revolution at Cromford Mills

Cromford 250 years logoCromford Mills celebrates 250 years of Industrial Revolution by welcoming visitors back with a fantastic line up of summer events!

Nestled in the picturesque Derwent Valley, Cromford Mills was founded in 1771 by Sir Richard Arkwright in Cromford, Derbyshire. Arkwright and his mill rose to fame as it became the birthplace of the modern factory system and the first successful water-powered cotton spinning mill in the country.

Join us in the year of celebration as we also mark the 50th anniversary of the Arkwright Society and 20th anniversary of the Derwent Valley Mills UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Celebrations kick off with a summer of exciting events! Enjoy artisan markets, antiques fairs, special weekend events, online talks and outdoor theatre. Stay up to date with latest developments by visiting

Celebrating the Arts Weekend

As part of our Celebrating the Arts Weekend on 21st-22nd August, we are inviting photographic and artistic interpretations of the beautiful and atmospheric Cromford Mills and the nearby Canal Wharf, Meadows, village and Cromford Church, as a nod to our special 250th anniversary year.

Two competitions are taking place over the weekend.

Art Competition

Artists are invited to join us for the whole day of Saturday 21st August at Cromford Mills and surrounding areas, in a pro-loco style event to work on artwork on-site, with the opportunity to win art materials vouchers. Artists must register for the art competition by 15th August and judging of the artworks will take place on Sunday 22nd August.

Photography Competition

Amateur photographers are invited to produce photographs of Cromford Mills and the surrounding areas with the opportunity to win a cash prize. Photographs can be print or digital and need to be submitted in advance. Photographers must register for the photography competition by 15th August and judging of the photographs will take place on Saturday 21st August.

All work will be displayed in a week-long pop-up gallery at Cromford Mills.

For further details and registrations, please email

Bringing our Missing Nightwatchmen back to the Derwent Valley

Nightwatchmen book open

An invaluable nightwatchmen’s logbook detailing nightly goings-on in Belper during the 1830s has recently been re-discovered, and thanks to a Crowdfunding campaign, returned to the Derwent valley.

The book, lost for decades, was secured in a fundraiser by Derbyshire Record Office working in partnership with Belper Historical Society. It took just three days for donations to bring these missing nightwatchmen’s records home.

By 1833, the cotton spinning company of W G & J Strutt employed 2,000 people in its Belper mills. With so much invested in the town, it also ran its own mini police force in the shape of half a dozen nightwatchmen. As well as checking the water levels and the new-fangled gas lighting, the nightwatchmen also silently patrolled the town to apprehend any ne’er-do-wells.

This original book of nightwatchmen reports from 1833-1836 gives a revealing glimpse into what went on in Belper after dark, and how these men tackled many a confrontation armed with just a trusty truncheon.

A big thank you goes to everyone who supported the campaign and donated towards it.

The book will now be kept safe at Derbyshire Record Office, where it will be available for everyone to study it.

Heage Windmill seeks Trustees

Heage Windmill Society (a registered charity) is seeking imaginative and forward-thinking individuals to serve as Trustees on its Board. The charity, which is responsible for the operation and upkeep of this iconic building, is looking for people with the skills and vision to progress the organisation.

Applications would be welcomed from a wide range of backgrounds including the areas of Health and Safety, and Education. Prior knowledge of mills and milling is not required.

If you fell you could help us and wish to apply, please email the secretary, Meg Tarlton, at outlining what you feel you can contribute to the future success of the mill. She will provide you with further details about the role. Closing date will be Friday 23rd July 2021.

New offer for 2021: Discover the beautiful valley that changed the world

Cromford MillsThere’s now a new and exciting way to discover Derbyshire’s Derwent Valley. The Arkwright Society at Cromford Mills and the Belper North Mill Trust are working together to bring visitors face-to-face with the valley’s World Heritage Site and its history. Join us on an escorted tour exploring the beautiful Derwent Valley Mills UNESCO World Heritage Site and learn how industry and nature combined to create a globally unique environment.

The Derwent Valley is an area that is rich in history thanks to the work of industrial pioneers Sir Richard Arkwright, Jedediah Strutt, the Evans family and the Lombe brothers, who transformed the valley into the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Visit key historical locations and hear stories about the people who created and transformed the Derwent Valley Mills, shaping the communities we see today.

Choose from three exciting tour options: Derwent Valley Highlights, Cromford Explorer and Belper Explorer. Each tour is tailored to give you an inspiring piece of history from the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. The tours will enable visitors to enjoy a full day’s tour by minibus, starting in either Derby or Matlock, led by experienced volunteer guides. Tours are available from June to September and they can be booked online.

The new tours have been made possible by a grant received from the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Great Place Scheme, funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England. Trevor Griffin, Derwent Valley Tours Project Manager commented that, “We appreciate the support of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Great Place Scheme to help deliver such an exciting project. Our aim is to increase the visitor offer in the World Heritage Site and to spread the message about the global significance of the Derwent Valley. Derwent Valley Tours will connect site and stories across the valley.”

To find out more and book your place visit

Great British Car Journey motors into Derbyshire

Born from an idea spawned by a 32-year-old Austin Maestro, and after four years in the making, the UK’s newest visitor attraction Great British Car Journey has opened its doors.

Making the once ordinary extraordinary, the Great British Car Journey is packed with British marques and models that dominated the roads for nearly a century.

Motors fixed in our memories, like the Morris Minor, Ford Capri, and everything before, after and in between, are cars that are now so rare that you’re more likely to see a £150,000 supercar on today’s roads.

More than 130 vehicles now fill a former wire works factory on the banks of the River Derwent in Ambergate, Derbyshire. Find out more:

Celebrating 20 years as World Heritage Sites

Three of the UK’s World Heritage Sites, comprising globally significant textile mills, and their industrial villages, are celebrating 20 years of UNESCO inscription this year. Taken together, these three sites show how Britain moved from cottage industries to a factory system which changed the world. The Derwent Valley Mills are where the factory system began; New Lanark is where a paternalistic system developed into a utopian community; and Saltaire is a large and complete complex which prepared the way for other future industrial model villages.

World Heritage Site status is one of the most powerful international tools for heritage preservation and one of UNESCO’s most successful programmes. World Heritage embodies the great humanist idea that people of all cultures and faiths can unite around the conservation of places of Outstanding Universal Value.

Over time, the World Heritage Convention has become the most universal instrument in heritage conservation globally. Thanks to the Convention, hundreds of communities have preserved their natural environment and enhanced their cultural heritage, in order to pass it on to their children, and to honour their ancestors. Heritage unites us regardless of our background and culture. Today, we unite for heritage, as the challenges to preserving our heritage becomes more complex. As a driver for robust economies and stronger societies, sustainable development provides citizens with decent jobs and a future to look forward to.

World Heritage is not just a list of marvellous sites – it is a vision for peace with the power to change the minds of women and men and to shape a sustainable future for all. It is about mobilizing heritage as a force for creativity, innovation and sustainable development.

Heritage is not a luxury – it is a precious asset. Everyone should be encouraged to make their best efforts for the promotion and preservation of our shared heritage. Every tourist and visitor should respect and cherish these irreplaceable World Heritage Sites. There will be no global sustainable future for humanity without the engagement of each one of us.

2021 marks the 20th anniversary of World Heritage status for the Derwent Valley Mills and Saltaire in England and New Lanark in Scotland. To commemorate this milestone, the three sites have joined together in a programme of shared celebrations over the course of the year. More information on all events can be found on the respective sites’ websites.

New Lanark Mill Complex

Grant success for Medical Museum projects with links to the Derwent Valley Mills

Medical artefacts – some with links to the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site – can now be properly catalogued, conserved and rehoused, thanks to a grant to the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton (UHDB).

The £98,000 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund will enable the public to engage with the hospitals’ medical archive, including items relating to Florence Nightingale, and to the Strutt family, who built the mills at Belper and Milford, and part-funded Richard Arkwright’s first water-powered cotton mill at Cromford, William Strutt designed the original Derby Infirmary in 1819.

The World Heritage Site Partnership hopes the project will ultimately help researchers to better understand the work of the Strutt family in transforming medical provision in Derby, as they had transformed the factories and farms further up the Derwent Valley.

The project is being managed by Air Arts, UHDB’s arts charity, and officially starts in September.

William Strutts Derby Infirmary


Derby Riverboat

Launching onto the River Derwent in 2021

The Derby Riverboat will be launched on the river Derwent in 2021 by the Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust. After the launch, the riverboat service will run each year between Spring and Autumn taking 12 passengers at a time on regular trips up and down the river.

Passengers will board the boat at Exeter Bridge before setting off on a 45 minute return trip up the river to Darley Abbey. An electric lift will allow passengers in wheelchairs to use boat. Initially there will only be one boarding/disembarking point but this may be expanded in subsequent years.

Customers using the boat will be able to listen to an audio commentary on the way up the river which is crammed with facts about Derby’s fascinating history and its exciting plans for the future. There will be on board refreshments and educational entertainment for children of all ages.

Over a years’ worth of design work has gone into the boat and great attention has been made to making the boat as environmentally friendly as possible. The boat’s propulsion system is fully electric with the batteries being partially charged using on board solar panels. The Trust hopes that this will inspire local people to adopt electric vehicles and encourage local boat owners to convert to zero emission propulsion.

The Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust aim to improve the customer offering year after year adding new features each season.

For more information, including videos, an e-brochure and volunteering with the project see








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