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News from the Derwent Valley Mills

October 2021
Cromford Mills
News from the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site
Autumn Tours of the only World Heritage Site in DerbyshireHigh Peak Junction

Discover the beautiful valley that changed the world with a special autumn discount! Choose from two escorted tours of the Derwent Valley and discover the stories that put the area on the map.

The full-day Derwent Valley Highlights is now £25 and starts from Derby at 9.30am, returning at 5.15pm. The Half-Day Explorer is now £12.50 and starts from Cromford Mills at 10.30am and 2.30pm, returning at 1.00pm and 5.00pm. Tours are available on Thursdays and Saturdays.

Half Day Explorer: High Peak Junction and Belper North Mill

The Half Day Explorer can be booked on the day at Cromford Mills if tickets are available. Starting at Cromford Mills, the first water-powered cotton-spinning mill in the world, the Half-Day Explorer includes:

  • Guided tour of High Peak Junction, on the Cromford Canal, visiting the oldest railway workshop in the world to discover unique relics and curiosities of this pioneer railway.
  • Guided tour of Strutt’s North Mill and Derwent Valley Visitor Centre, looking at the original machines and hearing the stories behind them. The North Mill was rebuilt in 1804 as an iron-framed, fire-proof building, using the pioneering building techniques that gave birth to modern-day skyscrapers.
  • Your knowledgeable guide will also point out other locations of interest along the way.

Derwent Valley Highlights

Taking in the major sites of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. The tour includes:

  • Visit to the Arkwright Experience and Visitor Centre at Cromford Mills to hear the story of the valley and how it changed the world.
  • A guided tour of Cromford Wharf and the Cromford Canal aqueduct; an unspoilt example of 18th century engineering within an amazing seting.
  • A guided tour of High Peak Junction, visiting the oldest railway workshop in the world to discover unique relics and curiosities of this pioneer railway.
  • A guided tour of Strutt’s North Mill in Belper, where a disastrous fire led to innovation in building technology and the rise of modern skyscrapers.
  • Walking tour of Belper Mills and the adjacent Edwardian River Gardens.
  • Drive through tours of Milford and Darley Abbey to discover the special features of these other early water-powered mill communities.

Tours are limited to 10 guests in a 16-seater minibus. To protect our guests, tour guides and driver we will continue to apply a number of Covid precautions.

Derwent Valley Tours logoTo find out more and book your place, please visit:

Plans for Derby Riverboat Trips take significant step forwardOutram

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.”

The Ram Trail lives on!
Ram Trail
Mondriram outside Vaillant’s Customer Experience Centre, Belper © Vaillant

Following the huge success of the Derby Ram Trail this summer, Derby Museums – the trail’s principal organiser – is pleased to share news about 15 of the rams, which have remained in the public realm for people to enjoy.

The Derby Ram Trail was a spectacular free discovery trail, featuring 30 unique ram sculptures that brightened the streets of Derby between 27th May and 25th August this year.  It was brought to the city by Derby Museums, in partnership with Wild in Art, and attracted over tens of thousands of visitors during its three-month run, including Derbyshire locals and international tourists.

The 30 rams comprising the trail were auctioned off in September by Charles Hanson, raising an impressive £300,000 towards Derby Museums’ Endowment Fund and helping to secure the future of our heritage.

The rams have now travelled to their new homes across the country – the ram rambling the furthest now overlooks the town of Prestatyn in north Wales! Half are in private ownership, but there are still 15 rams the public can spot:

  1. Ramtastic and Poseidon rambled off to a Lincolnshire Wolds location set in the grounds of Nettleton Park, owned by Don Amott Parks.
  2. Rambo takes pride in looking after the iconic pepper pot building on the former site of the Derby Royal Infirmary in the Nightingale Quarter, Derby.
  3. Captain Stone was purchased by the entrepreneurs at Project D and will make guest appearances at some of their pop-up events.
  4. Secret R.A.M. and Random Access Memory welcome visitors to Tioga Limited, helping showcase their expertise in Electronics Assembly at their Head Office on Mansfield Road, Derby.
  5. Ramble sits on proud display at Custom Paintworks Derby and was bought in memory of Robin Morley who used to ramble in the Peak District with his son Scott Morley, the owner of the company.
  6. For Those About to Rock warmly welcomes visitors to Brand Outlet on Ascot Drive in Derby, and we are told is already a hit with their visitors.
  7. Pride in Derby has nestled into its new home at Derby City Council on Corporation Street and proudly shares its space with a sheepdog!
  8. Play is residing at Cosy HQ, the play factory in Fauld near Tutbury and will playfully come out on tour with Cosy Direct in support of their work with Derby Kids Camp.
  9. Mondriram, sits proudly outside Vaillant Group’s Customer Experience Centre in Belper, Derbyshire. Vaillant was really happy to win the ram and use it to welcome visitors and staff to their award-winning manufacturing plant.
  10. Nurse Nightingale sits proudly inside the main reception at the Royal Derby Hospital, continuing to support their work connecting art and wellbeing.
  11. Ram Gogh – Starry Night over the Dales and Herding Together to RAMp up Quality take up a temporary position at the Needles Pub in Alvaston, Derby before they move into a new pub garden area next year to welcome families and visitors alike.
  12. Keener eyed ram spotters might also see Derby Industries outside Motus Commercials when driving past their office in Mackworth.

The legacy of the trail continues, and Derby Museums is pleased to extend this by further developing the Derby Ram Trail app with local company, Bloc Digital. The company has freely donated its expertise and time to design, develop and produce the app, which is available to download for free on mobile devices.

Although the trail has finished, by the end of October when the app has been updated, visitors will still be able to navigate it using the app to locate 3D virtual images of the rams in their original positions.

Bloc Digital Director, Keith Cox, said:
“We are delighted to keep the creativity and community spirit of the Derby Ram Trail alive by harnessing digital and immersive technology in this legacy app. Visitors can continue to experience that sense of quest as they explore the city and interact with the virtual rams along the way. The app also brings the trail close to home – once the rams have been unlocked, visitors can take these Augmented Reality sculptures home to place in their own rooms or gardens.”

 Tony Butler, Executive Director of Derby Museums, said:
“It is a fantastic to hear that 15 of the rams will stay on public display as a legacy to the project and we are thrilled that Ram Trail sponsor, Bloc Digital, have continued their support with the development of the app, enabling visitors to continue to enjoy a virtual version of the trail.

 We would like to thank all of our sponsors, artists and visitors for their commitment to making the trail such a fantastic success after such a difficult time during the pandemic, and for everyone who supported us so generously, helping to raise an incredible sum for Derby Museums’ Endowment Fund.”

 The Arkwright Society 7th Industrial Revolution Conference

The Arkwright Society returns for their 7th Industrial RevolutionCromford Mills Conference on Saturday 13th November via Zoom. The Industrial Revolution Conference is an annual event with a diverse range of topics and expert speakers.

This year, leading academics will discuss what triggered and sustained innovation in the first Industrial Revolution, with one talk focusing on modern entrepreneurship as a point of comparison.

Our first speaker, Professor Joel Mokyr, Department of Economics, Northwestern University, Illinois and Sackler Professorial Fellow at Tel Aviv University, will talk on the ‘Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution: A Neglected Nexus’, to show how the development of applied science interacted with industrial change and expansion.

Professor Emeritus John Styles of the University of Hertfordshire will discuss ‘Re-fashioning Industrial Revolution: Fibres, Fashion and Technical Innovation in British Cotton Textiles, 1630-1780’. He will consider how the progress from hand spinning to the Arkwright water frame and beyond was shaped by the changes in fashion in the 1760s-1770s.

Dr Gill Cookson, Visiting Research Fellow, School of History at Leeds University will address Innovation in the Time of Arkwright through a contextual approach to this period. This will offer a view of how Richard Arkwright’s career might have come to move from Barber and Wigmaker to Machine Maker and Industrial Mogul.

Dr Karoline Hutkova, London School of Economics will talk to us on The English East India Company’s Silk Enterprise in Bengal, 1750-1850. She will discuss how technology transfer to the Bengal silk industry came from the same Italian silk factories that influenced the Derby Silk Mill and subsequently the ‘Silk Town’ of Macclesfield, and the effect that had on the Bengal workers.

Professor Simon Mosey, Director of the Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship at Nottingham University will discuss ‘Building a legacy of ingenuity through entrepreneurial organisations’. This talk will help us to consider how the minds of the early innovators might have worked, by reviewing more recent innovation and entrepreneurship.

Tickets are priced at £20! Book your place today at

There will be 20 free places for students if they email Tricia Trice at from their university email – on a first come first served basis!

For more information, please contact Tricia Trice on 07833 614942 or

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. Stay up to date with latest developments by visiting

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.

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


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











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