Cromford Mill, Lea Mills and the Lumsdale Valley

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By Chris Wrigley, published 16th September 2011

Cromford Mill, one of the best known, and the Lumsdale Valley, one of the least known of the early industrial sites, are linked today by being managed by the Arkwright Society. They have also been the subject of a recent BBC1 programme in a series: ‘Britain's Hidden Heritage'. They are located in Derbyshire. Cromford Mill is just off the A6 at Cromford, near Matlock. The Lumsdale Valley is on the outskirts of Matlock, off the Chesterfield Road at Upper Lumsdale, towards Tansley. Both sites operated using waterpower, and both suffered from being remote from supplies of raw material and from their markets. At the end of his life Arkwright attempted to remedy Cromford's poor location by supporting the construction of the Cromford Canal. Nearby is another enterprise of the Arkwright era, Lea Mills, but, unlike Cromford and the Lumsdale Valley cotton mill, textiles are still being produced there by the firm of John Smedley. This essay explores the  appeal of this area for the establishment of industry in the early period of British industrialization, its early successes in cotton before location and other matters led to the area being superseded by Lancashire.

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