The Arkwright Society is an educational charity devoted to the rescue of industrial heritage buildings and helping to preserve the precious built and natural landscape in and around Cromford.
It was formed in 1972, growing out of the Arkwright Festival Committee which ran a local celebration. This commemorated the bicentenary of Sir Richard Arkwright’s first Cromford Mill and the construction of the world’s first successful water powered cotton spinning mill in 1771.
From the beginning, the Society has been engaged in the practical conservation of industrial monuments (notably in Lumsdale, Cromford and Slinter Wood), in publishing, and educational activities. It has also helped countless numbers of people access training and work, and transformed Cromford Mill from a derelict site doomed to demolition to one of World Heritage Status, employing over 100 staff in numerous small businesses. The Society has adopted its own green code and is actively involved in recycling waste materials.
The Arkwright Society purchased the mill site in 1979 as an act of rescue and in the early 1980s began to implement its long-term economic plan. The strategy identified the buildings that were not required for the Society’s own uses and so could be repaired and leased to tenants. The aim was to create a rental income to cross subsidise the Society’s overheads and the costs of delivering services to the general public visiting the site.
In the early 1990s the Society developed further income streams from a restaurant and shops run by its trading arm, Cromford Mill Limited. Many of the buildings have now been brought back into economic use and the site has a visitor centre, creative industries managed workspace, two restaurants, several meeting rooms, office accommodation for rental, galleries and several shops.
The Arkwright Society is a registered charity No 515526.