Darley Abbey Mills and Village
A village within the City of Derby, Darley Abbey contains the most complete of any of the cotton factory sites within the Derwent Valley. The Evans family built four mills on the site: the West Mill, the Long Mill, the Middle Mill and the East Mill. Unfortunately, public access to the inside of the cotton mills is only with the permission of the owners, as most of the buildings have been, or are being, sympathetically restored for commercial use. The two Evans homes, Darley House and Darley Hall, have now gone, but most of the houses built by the Evans family, as well as the church, school and the landscaped gardens, still exist today.
What makes it special?
- When the Evans family started to build their cotton mills in Darley Abbey they built houses to provide their workers. For the next 50 years they built over 130 new houses creating a factory village.
- Possibly the earliest example of cluster houses – semi-detached and back-to-back homes – can be seen at The Four Houses on Mile Ash Lane.
What is there to see and do?
- The impressive weir once played an important part in building up a head of water so supply the races to the cotton mills and other industries which once stood on the opposite bank.
- The Trent Rivers Trust has recently completed the installation of a fish pass at Darley Abbey. The Larinier fish pass enables a diverse range of fish species to move upstream to find suitable river habitat for feeding and spawning. The design and construction of the fish pass was a complex process to ensure the heritage value of the weir and the surrounding area was not adversely affected.
- Part of the former mill has been converted into a restaurant, from which there is a stunning view of the weir.
- You can walk around the old village and see the houses where the millworkers once lived. Most have been modernised and windows and doors changed, but you can still get the feel of an industrial village because sufficient remains of the layout and shape. Please remember these are people’s homes – don’t stare in windows or knock on doors.
- Walter Evans also provided for the spiritual needs of the workers by building St Matthew’s Church in 1818. In the church yard are touching slate memorials to mill workers.
- The Abbey public house on Darley Street was once part of the medieval Abbey at Darley, from which the village gets its name.
- Darley Park was laid out for the Evans family, and includes the grounds of their house. Find out more about Darley Park here.
- Visit Darley Abbey Mills website to find out more about the mills.