News from the Derwent Valley Mills
News from the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site
Rare Joseph Wright of Derby painting acquired for the nation
Derby Museums have announced the acquisition of a remarkable painting by Joseph Wright of Derby: ‘Self-Portrait at the Age of About Forty’, and on the reverse, a study for Wright’s famous painting ‘An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump’,
The self-portrait captures a sense of self-confidence and recognition of Wright’s growing reputation. It is also the only one of Wright’s ten self-portraits in which he specifically depicts himself as an artist, and it is packed with references to his specialism as a master painter of light effects.
The reverse of the painting shows a study for Wright’s famous painting ‘An Experiment on a Bird in the Air Pump’, which sheds important light on the development of his ideas for The Air Pump; a painting that is widely credited as the artist’s masterpiece.
The painting has been part of a private collection since it was completed in around 1772 and has rarely been seen by the public. It will now take pride of place in the Joseph Wright Gallery and will be available to view from Tuesday 17 May.
Major repairs required at historic windmill
Heage Windmill, the only working 6 sailed stone towered windmill in England, requires extensive repair work to be carried out. This popular tourist attraction (which recently featured on the Hairy Bikers Go North TV series) has been open to the public for 20 years and dates back to 1797. It was restored to working order in 2002 and is now maintained and operated entirely by volunteers. Recent inspection reports have identified wet rot in key structural timbers known as sheers – see diagram below. They run through the cap of the mill and cannot be replaced in situ.
The sheers, marked by a blue arrow, run from the front to the back of the cap. (Diagrammatic only)These huge pieces of timber, each some 8m long and 300mm square, which support all the main mechanisms of the windmill were NOT replaced in the restoration completed in 2002. Replacement involves removing the sails, fantail and cap – complex specialist work. The estimated cost is well in excess of £150 000. Temporary repairs mean that the windmill can operate safely continuing to mill flour for sale and welcome visitors for tours and other events.
Heage Windmill Society is working closely with Historic England and have agreed that the Grade 2* listed building will be placed on their Heritage At Risk Register (HAR).
The Society will use its available funds to cover some of the costs whilst further grants and funding will be sought to continue with the repairs. As the windmill is not directly funded, public support and donations are important. Should you wish to make a donation you can do so in the following ways:
- Credit/Debit card or PayPal via the GoFundMe page at: tinyurl.com/keepthesailsturning (Please Gift Aid if eligible)
- By cheque (payable to The Friends of Heage Windmill) sent to The Secretary, Heage Windmill Society, 3 Elmwood Drive, Alfreton DE55 7QJ
- Cash or card payment at the windmill when open.
- BACS: Account Name: The Friends of Heage Windmill Sort Code: 401715 Account Number: 31884980 Reference: SHEERS
Meeting Point: Contemporary art is coming to Cromford Mills
Cromford Mills are delighted to be taking part in Meeting Point, the Arts&Heritage initiative that brings heritage sites and contemporary artists together. Funded by Arts Council England, the project works to create art installations that engage new audiences with our history and site in imaginative and challenging ways.
This summer, Hetain Patel will be exhibiting his new work ‘Cotton Labour’ in the yard at Cromford Mills. It will be open to the public to view from Saturday 16th July until Sunday 18th September 2022.
Hetain Patel is a visual artist and performance maker who works across multiple media and often asks big questions in his work around culture, identity and freedom. His TED talk ‘Who am I? Think again’ has had over 3m views and he is the winner of the Film London Jarman Award, 2019. He recently starred as a judge on Sky Arts’ show Landmark and has had multiple solo exhibitions all over the country in the last year. He is currently exhibiting at the New Art Exchange in Nottingham (until 23rd April 2022) and in the British Art Show 9 – a landmark touring exhibition that showcases and celebrates the best of recent British art – presently on display in Wolverhampton.
Hetain’s work seeks to commemorate the forgotten workers from the mill’s history – both the local women and children who worked in Arkwright’s mill, but also the enslaved workers who picked the cotton and the Indian textile workers’ whose trade was so badly damaged by Arkwright’s success. He will be basing his work upon portraits of his own family (who picked cotton in Kenya and India before migrating to Britain), descendants of enslaved Africans and current Cromford residents and workers.
How can you get involved?
Meet the Artist: Hetain Patel – Come along to our online talk at 7pm on 31st March 2022 to meet Hetain and find out more about his work as an artist! This talk is free to attend but you will need to register to receive the zoom link. More details here: https://www.wegottickets.com/event/540718
Cromford Residents – Hetain is looking to feature a few local women and children as part of the final artwork. If you live in Cromford or work at the mill and would like to be considered, please email Eleanor at firstname.lastname@example.org by 4th April with a full-length photo and some information about yourself.
Donate your old clothes – the artwork will be rendered out of yarn made from old garments and we are currently looking for donations of large items of clothing or samples of cloth, ideally in bright colours. These must be clean and labelled ‘Meeting Point: FAO Eleanor Gunn’ and handed in to the Mill Shop before 15th May.
Workshops – We will be working with the local community to create the artwork in two workshops, on 25th June and 2nd July 2022. Please go to our events pages to see more information and register your interest by 30th April.
Ukraine: UNESCO statement following the adoption of the UN General Assembly resolution
Following the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the Resolution on Aggression against Ukraine, and in light of the devastating escalation of violence, UNESCO is deeply concerned by developments in Ukraine and is working to assess damage across its spheres of competence (notably education, culture, heritage and information) and to implement emergency support actions.
The UNGA Resolution reaffirms the paramount importance of the UN Charter and commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity, and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders, and it demands “that the Russian Federation immediately cease its use of force against Ukraine.”
The Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, fully concurs with the opening remarks made by the Secretary-General at the Special Session of the General Assembly, during which he said that “this escalating violence — which is resulting in civilian deaths, including children – is totally unacceptable.”
In addition, she calls for the “protection of Ukrainian cultural heritage, which bears witness to the country’s rich history, and includes its seven World Heritage sites – notably located in Lviv and Kyiv; the cities of Odessa and Kharkiv, members of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network; its national archives, some of which feature in the UNESCO Memory of the World Register; and its sites commemorating the tragedy of the Holocaust.”
Solidarity with Ukraine: Joint statement signed by 40 Countries
The National Commissions for UNESCO of Europe (and beyond) condemn the attack on Ukraine by the Russian Federation in the strongest terms. We express our solidarity with the people of Ukraine, which includes the journalists covering the conflict zone, and the teachers, educators, students and pupils who have the right to be educated in peace. We fully support our partners who advocate for UNESCO’s goals and values in Ukraine and beyond.
On 24 February, UNESCO called for the respect of international humanitarian law. Specifically, it called for the preservation of freedom of information, the protection of media professionals and to respect the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict. A total of seven UNESCO World Heritage sites are located in Ukraine. Following the recent escalation of violence, the UN Secretary General Mr. António Guterres asked the Russian President to withdraw his troops from Ukraine.
National Commissions for UNESCO of:
Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium (Flanders), Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Faroes, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
Cromford Mills are Hiring!
The Arkwright Society is looking for a Chief Executive Officer who will be responsible for the direction and management of this vibrant charity and accountable to its trustees.
Trustees wanted for Friends of Cromford Canal
Applications are being sought for new Trustees to help the charity to accelerate its restoration and development aims. We are looking for enthusiastic and energetic individuals who can work cooperatively with existing trustees and volunteers and contribute to monthly meetings.
Ideally we are looking for people with a background and interest in canal restoration and preferably who have specific skills to bring to our team. We are particularly short of engineering and finance skills.
A Century of Change
In 1921, the earliest aerial view of Belper was taken from a hot air balloon. It focussed on the town’s mill complex, including the Round Mill and Jubilee Clock Tower, but also their surroundings, including: on the hillside, Bridge Hill House, home of the Strutt family who built the mills from 1776.
100 years later, in 2021, thanks to grant support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England, the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Partnership was able to recreate this historic photograph, to illustrate the changes made over the past century. The Round, West and South Mills have gone, and a single-storey factory (now unused) sits on the west side. Bridge Hill House has also gone, and the site redeveloped for housing. But the North and East Mills are still there, as are the River Gardens.
New Booklet from Friends of Cromford Canal
The Cromford Canal’s Leawood Arm: A History has recently been published by the Friends of Cromford Canal, as a companion volume to Cromford Wharf: A History.
Plans to stage trips on Derby’s River Derwent have moved a step closer after a purpose-built boat was recently launched on the water by the Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust.
Recently, the boat, named Outram, was lowered into the river by crane from Cathedral Green, outside the Museum of Making, after receiving permission from Derby City Council.
Following its test launch, the Outram will remain moored in the Derwent over the winter while more trials are carried out, volunteer crew members are trained and safety measures are installed along the river.
The trust will launch return passenger trips from the city centre to Darley Abbey in Spring 2022, following on from a successful test with passengers at the recent Shardlow Inland Port Festival.
Trust chairman, Chris Madge said: “We are delighted to be able to get our boat onto the river. At last, we can look forward to the prospect of welcoming passengers and exciting them with the technology on board, the story of Derby and our canal, and providing a tranquil journey on a beautiful river in a lovely setting.”
Named after the famous Derbyshire engineer who created the Derby Canal, the Outram has been designed and built by a local boatyard and canal trust volunteers.
The 16-tonne craft was built from scratch in just over 6 months, but its launch was delayed by the pandemic.
While it is built in the style of a traditional narrowboat, it is wider than normal to accommodate wheelchair users.
It is an environmentally friendly boat, fitted with solar panels to top up its power source of lead carbon batteries. And working with graduate manufacturing engineers from Rolls Royce, the trust has developed a small remote-controlled boat called ARTEMIS, which can be operated from the Outram to collect harmful plastic waste from the river.
Outram will be able to carry up to 12 passengers on a 45-minute round trip on the River Derwent.
With a commentary by Sir David Suchet promoting Derby’s historic role in the cultural and industrial development of the country, the focus will be on entertaining families with a number of interactive displays.
Chris said: “Being able to offer passenger trips will be an important step for us.
“Our vision for the future includes making the river navigable south of the city centre into Pride Park, with the creation of the Derby Arm, a huge lift which would transfer boats from the River Derwent to a restored Derby Canal.
“We are a volunteer organisation that depends on support from the local community and businesses.
“This venture will enable us to garner greater support and promote our longer-term aspirations to make Derby a destination for boaters and tourists alike.”
The city council has been supporting the trust in launching the Outram on the River Derwent – and is looking at the river in conjunction with its regeneration plans.
Councillor Ross McCristal, cabinet member for leisure, culture, tourism and wellbeing, said: “Derby and Sandiacre Canal Trust has great ambition and I’m pleased to be supporting the testing of the new riverboat.
“A river can be a city’s greatest natural asset, but historically, as a city, we’ve not embraced the River Derwent and have certainly not made the most of it.
“That’s changing, with major regeneration projects like Our City Our River underway. Projects like this will help Derby embrace and turn towards the river.
“I believe they have the potential to fundamentally change our city centre – making Derby a more vibrant place to be, and opening new spaces and opportunities for residents, visitors and businesses.”
Bringing our Missing Nightwatchmen back to the Derwent Valley
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.
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.