Derwent Valley World Heritage Site volunteers join forces to offer full-day escorted tours

Visitors will be able to discover how mills in small Derbyshire communities made a big impact on the world during the Industrial Revolution.

Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 3:33 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 3:33 pm
Strutts North Mill in Belper.

Cromford Mills and Strutt’s North Mills in Belper are linked through their associations with Richard Arkwright and his benefactor Jedediah Strutt.

Arkwright opened the first water-powered cotton spinning mill in the world in 1771, helped by financial backing from Strutt, who ran a hosiery business and silk mill in Derby.

Five years later a second mill was launched in Belper which grew from being a small village to the second largest town in Derbyshire by 1801.

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Cromford Mills was the world's first water-powered cotton spinning mill.

Strutt went on to open a mill in Milford just five years after he began his mills in Belper.

This summer volunteers from Cromford Mills and Strutt’s North Mills are joining forces in a programme of escorted full-day tours to the mill locations and other less well-known places in the historic valley which is designated a World Heritage Site.

Trevor Griffin, the volunteer team manager, said: “The team must have over a century of experience between them in leading tours and each one has learned a lot more about the valley in order to spread their professionalism wider. We know that people will enjoy spending their day being personally escorted and looked after by very knowledgeable and entertaining people.”

There are three different tours in the programme which is running until September 8, 2021, and cost £25 per person per tour.

Masson Mills, Matlock Bath, part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. Photo by Ashley Franklin

One covers the highlights and takes in Cromford Mills, the Cromford Canal, the High Peak Railway, Belper Mill and Darley Abbey, with walking tours and visits. The two other tours give a more detailed exploration of the Cromford and Belper areas generally.

Participants are picked up in either Derby or Matlock.

The tours are part of an experiment funded through Great Place, a joint National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England Scheme.

Professor Ian Whitehead, chairman of the Great Place Scheme Board, said: “It’s important to look at new ideas which engage wider audiences with the World Heritage Site and its stories. The Experiment Fund has been a great opportunity for us to test out some of those ideas, and we hope the tours will be a great success for the valley.”

To find out more and book your place, go to