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'!