6 Jun 2013

Cromford, Derbyshire (2)

                                                         The River Derwent

                                                        The Cromford Canal

We really made a day of it when we drove down to Cromford.  There's so much to see there in  the village and the mill complex, but being our first visit on a lovely sunny day we were able to spend much of the time outside by the river and the nearby canal as well as looking around Richard Arkwright's Cromford Mills.

It's easy to understand why Richard Arkwright chose the area to build his mills when you see the water resource in the locality, although later on he did have problems when he lost a principal water supply.  He achieved a patent for his Roller Spinning Machine and when water power was applied it became known as the Water Frame.  It revolutionised the cotton spinning process to produce yarn strong enough to form the warp thread in woven cotton cloth.  Later he improved and patented all the pre-spinning processes giving him control of the entire production.  He became known as the Father of the Factory System.

The Mills, the watercourses, Mill Basin, weirs and culverts

Many mills were built and owned by the Arkwright family, but the one in the background of this photo was the first.

Just behind the trees is Rock House, Richard Arkwright's house. The manufacturing establishment of manager's house, warehouses, counting house and the mill buildings is considered to be the most important preserved textile heritage site in the world.  Hundreds of men, women and children were employed there at the peak of production.   In the early years women and children came from local villages as well as Cromford Village.  Later, as the production expanded, Arkwright employed workers from further afield and he built a hostel called The Barracks to house the boys and unmarried men who lived too far away to travel to and from work. It must have been extremely hard work, but Arkwright's concern was for the general welfare of his workers and records show that conditions were generally good for the standards of the time. The mills continued in operation until the 1840s.

This young lad, probably resting after a tour around the mill site, is sitting close to the area where the workers' hostel once stood.

The foundations of The Barracks building which burnt down in the 1960s
when it was still in use.  It had been leased out after Arkwright's mill
operations ceased in the 1840s. 

For many years there has been an extensive restoration project on the site undertaken by the Arkwright Society, a registered charity concerned with education and the conservation of industrial heritage. There are guided tours and an exhibition on the history of early spinning and weaving and  Sir Richard Arkwright, his family, his inventions and working methods.

There's no charge to explore the mill yard where there are many craft and second-hand goods shops and an art studio.  There was a plant sale on during the day we were there which pleased 'The Gardener'! 


  1. Beautiful place --and the village of Cromford sounds wonderful. It's no wonder that Arkwright chose that area... Gorgeous!!!!

    Nice that he provided barracks for some of his employees also.. Back then, business owners took care of their employees/workers. These days, there's no job security. Kinda sad.


  2. Thanks for sharing this Linda, it really does look very pretty and you take such lovely photos.
    Patricia x

  3. Gorgeous place, so full of character and history!

  4. I love visiting old mills and places like this from history. Thanks for the tour. It reminds me so much of a mill we once visited in Connecticut, but they had housing for the mill ladies. I guess it also intrigues me since I once worked in the apparel industry and would visit factories that were similar to the old mills.

  5. sur les traces :d'
    Agatha Christie vient du Devon.
    encore une jolie ballade , pleine de documentations
    c'est très agréable
    je ne suis pas sur que tous les ouvriers avaient du confort au travail ?????
    bonne journée
    sur la route

  6. A fascinating place - I'm sure that you were glad to have visited. Jx

  7. A great place for a day out. Not only is there all this history to discover but the area looks absolutely beautiful.

  8. What a delightful place to visit. I do love the spinning wheel, I've always wanted to own one but they cost a fortune now.xxxx

  9. So much to see. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Interesting post and photos Linda. I really will have to visit and also reread your post. My brain is not able to process it all this morning.