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News from the Derwent Valley Mills

April 2021
First Mill at Cromford Mills
News from the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site
Heage Windmill Society

Can you help lead us into the future?

Heage Windmill Society is seeking a new Chair of Trustees. We are an entirely voluntary organisation which has developed over 20 years following the restoration of the windmill. We are a registered charity and all volunteers give their time freely. A major tourist attraction in the East Midlands, we are highly rated by our visitors achieving Hall of Fame and Traveller’s Choice status on Trip Advisor.

A detailed knowledge of windmills is not essential but some experience of chairing meetings, volunteering for charities, running a small business or similar would be advantageous. Are you looking for a new challenge?

If this post interests you, please check out our website at then contact us at for more information.

Scarthin Books

We are so pleased that Guardian readers have named Scarthin Books in Cromford as one of the 12 best independent UK bookshops. To read more see: The Guardian website article here.

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

250 Years of Industrial Revolution at Cromford Mills

Cromford 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

The special weekend highlights include:

May 22-23, Conservation and Restoration Event

Come celebrate the Arkwright Society’s achievements over the last 50 years as we reflect on their remarkable effort in restoring the site and surrounding area. Discover the skills that helped rebuild Cromford Mills from a derelict industrial site into a beautiful tourist attraction, small business hub and world heritage site. Watch expert demonstrations and try out a new skill with hands-on activities. Learn about lime plastering, watch spinning demonstrations, and have a go at pond dipping. Explore the power of Cromford water and find out how we will be harnessing it again one day soon!

June 26 -27, Georgian Weekend

The Georgians have taken over the mill! Step back in time and experience Georgian life within the 250 year old mill site. Enjoy delicious Georgian treats, say hello to the Georgian re-enactors, and complete the exciting family trail around the yard. Don’t miss this exciting and historic weekend!

June and July, Outdoor Theatre at the Mill

Outdoor theatre in a fabulous historic setting? Summer nights don’t get much better than this. Snap up your tickets before they sell out and join us for four outstanding performances this June and July:

19 June – The Merry Wives of Windsor performed by Three-Inch Fools
23 July – Heroes performed by Chatsworth Players
25 July – Macbeth performed by The Handlebards
27 July – Robin Hood performed by Three-Inch Fools

In addition to this, on the 24th and 25th July, Notice this Notice will be entertaining visitors around the site with their amusing and cheeky Georgian mill workers.

August 21-22, Celebrating the Arts

Reflect on the beauty of the Derwent Valley and delight in this hands-on celebration of the arts this August. See local artists compete in an outdoor painting competition and enter the Cromford Mills photo competition. Don’t miss Medley’s skilled crafting demonstrations and their art and craft show. A great day of celebrating local makers and artists who feature around the site and in our independent shops.

Play your visit today and check for more details about events, walks, tours and cafes. Cromford Mills is ‘Good to Go’ which mean you can rest assured that Covid-safe measures have been put into place for visitors and staff. Free entry and on-site parking.

Come discover how Cromford Mills shaped the world 250 years ago!

New Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill to welcome first visitors from Friday 21 May
Museum of Making
Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill

The new Museum of Making in Derby is delighted to announce it will be throwing open its doors to its first visitors from Friday 21 May 2021. After much planning and anticipation, this brand new museum, on the site of what is widely regarded as the world’s first modern factory, is excited to be able to welcome visitors to this new destination.

The Museum of Making is being developed and will be operated by Derby Museums with thanks to major grant funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, Arts Council England, D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership and Derby City Council. Significant support has also been received from Rolls Royce and a range of charitable trusts and foundations.

As well as its opening date, the Museum also announced a wider programme of events and activities that arts, cultural and city-wide organisations have been collaborating on to help celebrate 300 years of creativity and making across the region. Called ‘300’ – to mark the momentous anniversary of the first modern factory – events across the county will be linking into the making theme.

Tony Butler, Executive Director of Derby Museums Trust said:

“We are delighted we are going to be able to welcome people to the fantastic new Museum of Making from Friday 21 May. Whilst there are the usual caveats around possible changes to Government guidelines, we hope that this date will be fixed, and we can’t wait to get people through our doors and see what they make of Derby’s brand new museum.”

“We are also really pleased that the museum has been able to collaborate with organisations and institutions across the city and more widely to bring everyone together to create an amazing programme of activities and events. These activities will help us to celebrate 300 years of making, as well looking to the future to inspire the creativity and innovation that made Derby an early centre of the Industrial Revolution 300 years ago.”

 Anne Jenkins, Director, England Midlands & East, National Lottery Heritage Fund said:
“It is wonderful that, thanks to National Lottery players, we have been able to support Derby Museums in transforming what is widely regarded as the world’s first modern factory into an inclusive, 21st Century heritage destination. At the start of this journey, Derby Silk Mill was a sleeping giant, under-appreciated and at risk.”

“Now, the new Museum of Making is an exemplar cultural attraction that local people can be proud of, a magnet for visitors and a driver for city centre regeneration. Visitors will be enticed to learn more about Derby’s rich industrial heritage, as the museum sits proudly at the gateway to the Derwent Valley Mills UNESCO World Heritage Site.”

Sajeeda Rose, Chief Executive, D2N2 LEP, said:
“The Museum of Making will be a world-class attraction, supporting the re-generation and growth of Derby city centre, and a must-visit destination for those in the East Midlands and beyond. We hope it will inspire the next generation of ‘makers’ and our collective ambitions to rebuild and grow our economy.”

Peter Knott, Midlands Area Director for Arts Council England, said:
“We are delighted to be investing in the new Museum of Making and hope visitors will get a real sense of the history and importance of industry to Derby as they explore the site.”

“We are proud to champion the role creativity plays in bringing history to life and hope the museum inspires local and international visitors to explore Derby’s heritage in a creative way for many years to come.”

Entry is free to the new Museum of Making (with the exception of some temporary exhibitions) but, due to Covid restrictions, visitors will need to book in advance. Booking will be open from 10am on Tuesday 4 May.

To find out more and to plan your visit to the Museum of Making, visit

Rams return to the Painting Space for finishing touches ahead of the Derby Ram Trail launch this May
Derby Ram Trail
Two sneak peeks of the designs the public will see as part of Derby Ram Trail this summer: ‘Ramble’ by Caroline Coates (L) and ‘Railway Communities’ by Holly Aspinall (R).

The unique world-class sculpture trail will take place from 27th May to 22nd August 2021.

Excitement for this summer’s must-see Derby Ram Trail is building, as the last of the 30 five-foot ram sculptures – which will form Derby’s spectacular new city-wide free sculpture trail – have returned to the Painting Space at the Derbion Centre (formerly intu Derby) for their final touches.

Local artists have been working hard over the last two months to uniquely decorate each ram, each of which is sponsored by a local business, making the Ram Trail deeply rooted to Derby. The night before the trail starts, all 30 rams will be herded outside and installed overnight, so the city wakes up to this fantastic free, family-friendly walking trail. The Derby Ram Trail will then decorate the city’s streets from 27th May to 22nd August 2021.

With their bold prints and eye-catching colours, each bespoke ram will be on display outside key city landmarks, such as the new Museum of Making, The Council House and Derby Cathedral, attracting both local residents and visitors from far and wide. The flock of rams will showcase a huge range of artistic talent, with all forms of arts, from illustration to graffiti, being celebrated. In addition, a free app ‘Derby Ram Trail’, which will be downloadable from the App Store and Google Play, will allow all who wish to take part in Derby Ram Trail create their own bespoke trail around the city. A free map will also be available to help navigate the trail.

Tony Butler, Executive Director, Derby Museums says: “The Ram Trail is all about making art publicly accessible, offering something truly unique to all who visit Derby this summer. Walking, cycling – or even jogging – around the Ram Trail will be a fantastic way to discover (and re-discover after lockdown) Derby in a way that’s never been seen before. Be ready for eye-catching colours, dramatic designs and magnificent murals, which sets the stage for a ‘Ramtastic’ summer.”

28 different artists have been busy bringing each ram to life, transforming their 2D designs onto the 3D sculpture. Midlands based Mr A Singh is known for using mixed media techniques and vivid colour in his work, which often nods towards nature’s beauty and the patterns found within the natural world, and self-taught local artist Sarita Gnaniah focuses on mindfulness, aiming to bring out the healing power of art to her creations.

Once Derby Ram Trail has finished in August, all 30 rams will be brought together again for the ‘Ram-union’, before they’re auctioned off on 9th September to raise money for Derby Museums’ Endowment Fund, helping to secure the future of Derby Museums. All funds raised through the trail will be doubled with match funding from the National Lottery Heritage Endowment Fund.

The Derby Ram Trail is being led by Derby Museums in partnership with Wild in Art, a leading creative producer of spectacular free public art who has been bringing accessible art to cities across the world, from Sydney to São Paulo, since 2008.

Charlie Langhorne, Co-founder and Managing Director of Wild in Art says: “The Derby Ram Trail will be the first of our spectacular sculpture trails to take place after lockdown, making it even more unique. We are looking forward to welcoming people back to Derby, and to see the city’s streets full of art, colour and excitement after what has been a really difficult year for many.”

 Derby’s fibreglass ram sculptures are based on the mythical Derby Ram from an 18th century song, which, according to legend, was ten yards high with enormous horns and a huge flowing fleece. The song tells of people travelling from corners of the country to see the huge ram, something which Derby Museums and Wild in Art hope to echo from May – August in this modern-day trail.

To find out more about the Derby Ram Trail, visit:

Cromford Mills: School children zoom back in time at Cromford Mills
Learning at Cromford
‘Mrs Froggott’ and ‘Mrs Henstock’ at Cromford Mills

On Thursday 11th February, year 5s at St Joseph’s Catholic Voluntary Academy in Derby logged in to an online class with a difference. They were meeting Mrs Froggott and Mrs Henstock, two 18th century mill workers from Sir Richard Arkwright’s mills at Cromford. ‘Why did you start working in the mill?’ and ‘how much do you get paid?’ were just a few of the excellent questions the pupils asked, as they quizzed the workers all about their daily lives. They also found out about the carrots Mrs Froggott grows in her garden, her difficulties with getting to work on time, and how Mrs Henstock has moved up through the ranks in the picking room!

‘[The staff] were brilliant and really encouraged the children to engage with the learning throughout the week’ said Harriet Madeley, class teacher at St Joseph’s. ‘We wanted the children to learn about the history of their local area, as we were aware they hadn’t heard of the mills and didn’t know about [their] importance. The children really enjoyed meeting the mill workers and said it helped them to realise how lucky they are – it was hard to work in the mills. [They] really enjoyed the videos too – they complemented our research activities brilliantly and supported children whose reading skills may have led to them not gaining a full understanding – which is vital when children are learning from home.’

Armed with their new knowledge, the class wrote pieces of persuasive writing, creating slogans and convincing people to come and work at Cromford Mills: ‘So come and join us. What are you weaving for? Cromford Mills: producing, providing, and progressing.’

The session was a trial run for The Arkwright Society’s new remote offer for schools, ‘Ask the Mill Workers’, which is now available to all primary schools to book. For £30, it includes a one-hour zoom session for up to two classes, plus the use of a loans box for 2 weeks. The loans box is filled with activities for pupils to have a go at once they are back in the classroom, such as costumes to try on, cotton to card, and weaving sticks. It complements local history studies for Derbyshire schools, as well as topics that cover textiles and the Industrial Revolution.

The team have also produced a set of accompanying ‘Meet the Mill Worker’ videos, which are free to watch on YouTube. These explore the day to day lives of Mrs Froggott and Mrs Henstock, both at work in the mills and at home in the village of Cromford. There are also downloadable craft and history resources available on the Cromford Mills website.

Hannah Steggles, Head of Heritage at Cromford Mills, said: ‘We have really missed having school groups visit during the pandemic, so we are delighted to be able to offer this new way for schools to engage with the history of our site. Heritage sites offer a unique brand of learning experience, where children can visualise and engage with the past, then connect it to the present. It’s brilliant that our costumed interpreters can bridge the distance via technology and still bring the past to life for these children.’

For more information, or to book a session, please visit or email Eleanor at




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