Latest News | 19 June 2024

Historic mills celebrate the return of waterpower

Cromford Mills
University of Derby
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Cromford Mills has celebrated the return of waterpower to the historic site.

The mills once played a pivotal role in shaping the Industrial Revolution as the first successful water-powered cotton spinning mill in the world.

Now, waterpower has been brought back to sustain the Grade I listed site, in the form of a new six-metre diameter water wheel, a 15kWH hydro turbine and water source heating system.

Utilising the original watercourse, this system now generates approximately 20 to 25% of the site’s electricity.

This initiative not only reduces the site’s carbon footprint but also addresses the challenges posed by higher energy prices, which have impacted Cromford Mills significantly since 2022.

Additionally, it serves as a catalyst for further renewable energy projects and provides a platform to showcase the site’s sustainability efforts to the local community and visitors.

The project was made possible by numerous supporters, including Vaillant UK.

Eilis Scott, chief executive at the Arkwright Society, which is responsible for the mills, said: “This is a pivotal moment for the Arkwright Society.

“Restoring waterpower to Cromford Mills helps preserve the heritage that helped shape our nation’s history.

“Our vision is to continue the regeneration of the site, keeping it accessible and inclusive to all our visitors, by creating a sustainable and vibrant place that blends heritage with innovation.

“Cromford Mills is about people and collaboration, and this project exemplifies that”.

The project was also supported by the University of Derby’s Green Entrepreneurs Programme Fund.

Professor Kathryn Mithcell, the university’s vice-chancellor, said: “We’re delighted to support the Arkwright Society with a Green Entrepreneurs Programme Fund demonstrator grant for the restoration of the hydro power project at Cromford Mills.

“This initiative showcases the use of renewable water energy at this world-renowned heritage site, significantly reducing carbon emissions and cutting energy costs for the society.

“Additionally, it will enhance educational and community benefits for this important heritage site, highlighting the value of sustainable innovation.”

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