Cromford Mills nears crowdfunding target for new hydroelectric power project

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A crowdfunding campaign has so far raised more than £20,000 to launch a new era of water power at one of Derbyshire’s most famous heritage sites, but with just a few days left to go organisers are hoping for a final rush of donations to set the wheels of the project in motion.

The Arkwright Society launched the crowdfunder in September to help meet the costs of installing a new hydroelectric waterwheel at Cromford Mills, the world's first water-powered cotton spinning mill, built in 1771.

Though the campaign’s official target is £60,000, the society will receive whatever supporters pledge, and all donations before Saturday, November 4 will be matched by Gilkes, the manufacturer of the new turbine.

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Simon Gill, operations director at Cromford Mills, said: “We are working hard to reach our target but we still have a way to go.!

The new hydroelectric turbine being installed at Cromford Mills back in August. (Photo: Contributed)The new hydroelectric turbine being installed at Cromford Mills back in August. (Photo: Contributed)
The new hydroelectric turbine being installed at Cromford Mills back in August. (Photo: Contributed)

Work is already well under way on the installation of a five-metre water wheel, 17kWh hydro turbine and water source heating system, all powered from the same water course which once turned the spinning machines – but the crowdfunding is necessary to fully complete the installation.

The project is not simply about echoing that heritage and meeting 21st century environmental concerns. It is also intended to help put the site on a more sustainable footing and ensure it can be publicly accessible and engaging for generations to come.

Like most households and businesses, the site has seen its energy costs soar over the past few years – rising from from £45,000 to £170,000 a year – and the new water wheel should generate up to a quarter of its electricity needs.

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Simon said: “This project is a massive step towards that and we will soon be able to power and heat one of our four-storey mill buildings with renewable energy.

“The waterwheel will will be a fantastic attraction for the site, demonstrating that waterpower sits firmly in the origins of our history and will become the beating heart of the place again.”

This project has received funding from the Green Entrepreneur Fund, Severn Trent Community Fund, and with the support of Vaillant Boilers, Twiggs, and other suppliers.

Crowdfunding pledges from £20 and up will be eligible for one of the listed supporter rewards.

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