Cromford Mills is now the designated starting point for the whole of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site – 15 miles of historical mill complexes and industrial landscape stretching from Cromford through to Derby.
The Gateway will allow visitors to find out exactly what there is to see and do at each of the 17 designated sites contained within the valley, from Masson Mill to Derby’s Roundhouse.
The recovery of Arkwright’s first mill complex in Cromford has been a massive undertaking, as it was used as a colour works for 50 years from 1922. When it closed, the newly-formed Arkwright Society took on a contaminated, seemingly irreparable site, removed 6,000 tonnes of rubble, and clung on to a vision which has, at last, been realised.
It’s been a visitor attraction for several years, with highly informative guided tours, historical talks and events and activities including demonstrations and displays of traditional crafts. The Gateway, housed in the five-storey Building 17, sees the completion of the first part of a four-phase ‘Master Plan’ which highlights not only Arkwright’s massive legacy at Cromford Mills but also the entire World Heritage Site.
The Gateway includes a video film telling the story of the development of the mills and a superb hologram where Sir Richard Arkwright himself appears before your eyes to tell you the story from his perspective.
The whole of Building 17 has been refurbished. In the floors above the Gateway is Cromford Creative, a cluster of office units occupying 8,000 square feet.
To read more about the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, visit this page on the website for a three-part journey down the Derwent Valley, published in 2015 by Derbyshire Life.