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27 November 2014
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Restoration - Cromford Mill
Cromford Mill today
Cromford Mill as it is today
Derbyshire's entry in the Restoration series is Cromford Mill - arguably the birthplace of modern manufacturing.
In 1771, industrialist Richard Arkwright and his partners signed a lease on an area of land in Cromford. They then set about building the world's first successful water-powered cotton mill there.

The new mill made use of the innovative technology that Arkwright and his partners had built in the years leading up to it - items such as the Spinning Jenny and the water mill.

The Upper Mill
The large imposing mill building
The resultant complex was the first of its kind. No-one had ever attempted to build a manufacturing base on such a large scale before. Cromford Mill was really the world's first factory - and an important step in the Industrial Revolution.

The complex itself is a model of functional simplicity rather than a beautiful display of architecture.

Comprising five storeys of rectangular masonry boxes and timber beams supporting each floor, the long narrow proportions became the basic design in industrial architecture for the next hundred-or-so years.

Mill buildings
This mill still stands proud - just!
The complex consisted of three mill buildings with the main one being the Upper Mill (also known as Building 18) which was the first to be built. In the late 1780s this mill was extended from 11 bays to 15 bays but a fire in 1929 destroyed the top two storeys, and a new roof was fitted.

Another mill (Building 17) was connected to the Upper Mill by a small bridge (only part of this remains). It included a warehouse on the ground floor and a turret end containing a staircase.

The Second Mill was added in 1776 but its remains are concealed beneath buildings erected by The Colour Company. It further increased the output of the mill complex and added to Arkwright's personal wealth.

Rubble
Work is ongoing at the mill site.
The success of Cromford Mill earned Arkwright a place in history and similar complexes started to spring up all across the world.

When Arkwright died in 1792, thousands of people lined the streets of Matlock to bid him farewell - his legacy assured forever.

The complex was bought by the Arkwright Society in 1979 and since then, work has been underway to slowly restore the mill to its former glories.

Cromford Mill still needs urgent investment to halt its decline and to guarantee its position for future generations - and the £3 million prize for winning 'Restoration' would go a long way to doing that.

BBC Radio Derby's Rebecca Maguire reports from the mill

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