Thursday, September 11, 2014

Flashback Thursday Touring Cromford Mills

Cromford is a village located on the southern edge of the Peaks District of Derbyshire. In 1771 it was a sleepy hamlet that was about to be changed forever. Richard Arkwright chose Cromford to be the location of his new mill.  It was like nothing anyone had seen before in size and scope. He began using horses to power his machine but this was not efficient since every time the horses had to be changed the engines stopped. He decided that water power was the way to go. He used the Derwent River, Bonsall Brook and also water that was trapped under ground in the former lead mines in the area. This meant he had power everyday of the year. 
We arrived in Cromford Mills at 10:45 a.m. and the next tour was scheduled for 11 a.m. This is the tour of the mill and is offered 11 a.m.; 1:00p.m. and 2:30 p.m daily. There are also tours of the village which must be booked in advance. The cost of the mill tour is £3.50 for adults and £2.5 for children, students and seniors. We only toured the mill since we had no reservations. Tours last approx. an hour depending on questions and interest of the participants. 
Paul Halksworth was our guide and his enthusiasm for the history of this mill and the area is contagious. You need to be able to climb stairs to take the tour; it begins on the second floor of the building. We sat while Paul gave us a wonderful explanation of the development of this process by Arkwright. He also had many detailed stories about the family. 

Arkwright senior was knighted and when he appeared at court inappropriately dressed, the nobs there laughed at him. After his knighting he turned to them and said "I can pay the national debt three times over, can any of you say the same?" The laughter stopped. At the time of his death he was the richest man in England. When his son Richard died, he was the wealthiest commoner in Europe.
The tour of Cromford Mills takes you inside the building but also outside. You will come away from here understanding a lot more about the process that it took to produce the cotton thread and the lives of the workers who made it possible. It is a large  complex with multiple buildings.

In addition to the areas that you tour there are shops and restaurants so, you can plan to come in the morning and stay for lunch or like we did, go to Sir Richard Arkwright's former home, Willersley Castle to dine.

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