Cromford Mills announces summer family event programme to mark 250 years of the Industrial Revolution

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Returning visitors to Cromford Mills will have more reasons that most to celebrate this summer as it hosts a series of events to mark 250 years since the wheels began turning on the Industrial Revolution.

Richard Arkwright founded the world’s first successful water-powered cotton spinning mill at Cromford in 1771, making it the birthplace of the modern factory system which would transform the world beyond recognition.

2021 has even more historical significance as it coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Arkwright Society which now preserves the mills today, and 20 years since the Derwent Valley was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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While plans may be changed by Covid developments, the current expectation is that public celebrations will get under way over the weekend of May 22-23, focused on the society’s conservation and restoration achievements.

Sir Richard Arkwright's original mill at Cromford, built in 1771.Sir Richard Arkwright's original mill at Cromford, built in 1771.
Sir Richard Arkwright's original mill at Cromford, built in 1771.

A spokesman said: “Cromford Mills is ‘Good to Go’ which mean you can rest assured that Covid-safe measures have been put into place for visitors and staff.

“Discover the skills that helped rebuild the mills from a derelict industrial site into a beautiful tourist attraction, small business hub and world heritage site. Watch expert demonstrations and try out a new skill with hands-on activities.”

There will be opportunities to learn about lime plastering, watch spinning demonstrations, and have a go at pond dipping. Explore the power of Cromford water and find out how we will be harnessing it again one day soon.”

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Over the weekend of June 26-27, the site will be taken back to the Georgian era with costumed actors recreating everyday mill life and a discovery trail around the yard for families.

Also kicking off in June is a series of outdoor theatre performances, including musical comedy troupe the Three Inch Fools with their retellings of Shakespeare’s Merry Wives of Windsor and Robin Hood, the Handlebards with Macbeth, and Heroes from the Chatsworth Players.

For August 21-22, the site will be a hive of creativity as local artists compete in an outdoor painting competition and vie to win the Cromford Mills photo competition.

There will be skilled crafting demonstrations and a craft show celebrating local makers and artists who feature around the site and its independent shops.

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In preparation for the busy summer, the Arkwright Society is currently recruiting for part-time and casual staff to work in the cafés starting from May 10.

Applicants must be available to work weekends, and fulfil a minimum of 32 hours a week for part-time roles. Send a CV and covering letter to [email protected].

Anyone interested in the history of Cromford might also enjoy an online talk on Thursday, April 29, from industrial historian and mill volunteer Philip Larkin.

He will be tracing the early beginnings of the roller spinning process at Marvel's Mill in Northampton, which would become the basis for Arkwright’s innovation into a world-beating technology.

For details of how to log in, and information on all upcoming events, go to

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