Image: Derbyshire village of Cromford, the mill pond at the heart of the settlement.The village of Cromford sits astride the main A6 Derby road at the southern end of Matlock Dale deep in the Derwent Valley, recently designated a World Heritage Site. The village owes its historical significance entirely to the River Derwent, for it takes its name from a bend in the river where the water was shallow enough to be forded by the old Derby to Chesterfield road, the original old English ‘Crune-ford’ meaning ‘crooked-ford’.

 

The present-day village owes its existence to Richard Arkwright who was responsible for most of its construction; not only did he build an entire industrial complex of mills and workshops, but he also built houses for his workers, a school, a chapel, and an inn in the Market Place.

Sir Richard Arkwright lived at Rock House, opposite his original mill, but in 1788 he purchased an estate from Florence Nightingale’s father, William for £20,000 and set about building Willersley Castle for himself and his family. Alas, just as the building was completed it was destroyed by fire, and Arkwright was forced to wait a further two years whilst it was rebuilt. But he died, aged 60 and never lived in the castle which was only completed after his death. It is now a retreat for a methodist group. Opposite to the Castle is the Limestone climbing crag of Willersley, detailed elsewhere on the site.

The Greyhound Hotel built in 1788, with its magnificent original Georgian frontage dominates the Market Place. At the rear of the hotel is the large Mill Pond, and at its head, the constantly turning water-wheel. Arkwright took water from here to power his first mill. From here the water was channelled to the mill by a series of chutes and carried over the road by a cast-iron launder (dated 1821 and which superseded the original wooden one of 1776 and sadly now destroyed after a lorry collided with it) and into the mill. Perhaps the most prominent of Arkwright’s constructions is Masson Mill built alongside the Derwent in 1784 and still in use today as a shopping centre. This massive red brick mill with its unusual convex weir spanning the river still bears the legend ‘Sir Richard Arkwright Co.’ high on its frontage.

The Scarthin rises from a corner of the Market Place, narrowing as it reaches the Boat Inn (1772) which stands virtually opposite the post-office, and then broadens into a very attractive iron-railed promenade with a War Memorial displaying the names of the valiant men of The Scarthin who fell in the First World War.

Scarthin Books has a central location along the promenade in a three-storey building literally packed from floor to ceiling with the largest selection of modern and antiquarian books in the County. The book shop also boasts a café with splendid views across the mill pond.
At the western end of the Scarthin stands the Primitive Methodist Chapel of 1853, and across the Mill Pond on Water Lane is the well supported Methodist Church. Below the Market Place and in the shadow of the limestone cliff stands the Community Centre and a small garden of remembrance with a Memorial dedicated to the men of Cromford who fell in the Second World War.

St Mary's Church lies in the Derwent Valley, more or less opposite to the entrance to Cromford Meadows and near to Arkwrights Cromford Mill. Just beyond the church stands the fine 15th century bridge across the Derwent and its unusual tiny fishing temple with the dedication ‘Piscatoribus Sacrum’ carved into the ancient stonework. Close by the southern end of the bridge stand the ruins of a small 15th century chapel and on the bridge parapet carved into the stone is the legend ‘The leap of Mr. B.H. mare. June 1697’ marking the exact spot where, over 300 years ago, both horse and rider plunged over the parapet into the river below, and survived unhurt.

Image: Arkwright's Mill at Cromford, Derbyshire.At the entrance to Cromford Meadows is the Cromford Canal Wharf and the start of the Cromford Canal, another of Arkwright’s projects, although it was opened in 1793 after his death. The canal was 14 miles long and joined the Erewash Canal at Langley Mill. It enjoyed many years of use until the coming of the railways in the 1860`s. Now lovingly restored by the Cromford Canal Society and the Derbyshire County Council, this section of the canal hosts a large car park, picnic area and visitor centre. It is possible to walk along the towpath from Cromford to Ambergate, including through a canal tunnel - to help to stop you from straying into the canal in the darkness, a set of railings has been erected. Should you choose to cycle the towpath, which we believe is allowed, please respect foot traffic. The tunnel can be avoided via a footpath that passes to one side.

Accommodation in or near to Cromford



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Information condensed from Tom Bates Insider's Guide to Cromford.



Peak District Derbyshire - Cromford Village

A Derbyshire village not owned by the Chatsworth estate.

Here you can find much architecture created by Arkwright for his factory mill workers. The village is close to Bonsall Moor, Via Gellia and Matlock Bath and has a lot to offer the visitor. Accommodation in Cromford in the Derbyshire Peak District.

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