Cromford Mill As A Part of the World Heritage Site of Derwent Valley Mills

Derwent Valley Mills

For its historical significance and the impact on the Industrial Revolution, UNESCO listed the Cromford Mill into its World Heritage Sites list in 2001. The Cromford Mill was the first water-powered cotton spinning mill in the world but it was also the first to successfully implement the combination of power, machinery and human labour which became the basis of modern industrial production. And in 2001, the role of the Cromford Mill and other mills in the Derwent Valley was formally recognized by UNESCO.

The Cromford Mill is a part of the World Heritage Site of Derwent Valley Mills stretching over 24 kilometres in the Derwent Valley and covering an area of 12.3 square kilometres. The Site consists of four main sites which besides the Cromford Mill also include mills in Belper, Milford and Darley Abbey. In addition to mills themselves, the World Heritage Site of Derwent Valley Mills also comprises workers’ buildings and structures that were related to the mills including the Cromford Canal and Cromford and High Peak Railway. Both played an important role in economic development of the area as well.

Belper, a town about 10 kilometres from Cromford is the home to the second water-powered cotton spinning mill in the world. The first mill was built in South West of England and has been lovingly restored into homes. Jedediah Strutt, a business partner of Cromford Mill’s founder Richard Arkwright built the so-called North Mill in the town in 1784. This mill, however, was destroyed by a fire in 1804 but it was soon replaced with a new one. And after the Cromford Mill finally closed its doors as cotton spinning mill, Belper gained a new mill called the East Mill that was built in 1913. However, the Belper mills are no longer used to manufacture textiles either.

In Milford, little remained preserved from the cotton spinning mill that was also built by Jedediah Strutt in 1778 due to large-scale clearance in the 1960s. However, the site was added to the World Heritage Site of Derwent Valley Mills as most of the workers’ buildings remained preserved. The Strutt’s Mill in Milford is also famous for Samuel Slater, Strutt’s apprentice who took the secret of Arkwright’s system to America where he established his own textile factory and came to be known as the Father of the American Industrial Revolution.

Darley Abbey is fourth site that forms the World Heritage Site of Derwent Valley Mills. Here another Robert Arkwright’s business partners, Thomas Evans built a six storey mill in 1783. This mill burned down in a fire only five years later but it was rebuilt shortly thereafter. In addition to Evans’ mill, Darley Abbey is also notable for the 1830 factory village which was built to accommodate 500 workers in Evans’ mill.

All together, the World Heritage Site of Derwent Valley Mills encompasses 848 buildings, thirteen conservation areas and nine Scheduled Ancient Monuments. Most of them today function as museums and are open to public.