About the Arkwright Society

The Arkwright Society grew out of the Arkwright Festival Committee which organised a local celebration to commemorate the bicentenary of Sir Richard Arkwright’s 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 and educational activities.  It is a registered charity aimed at promoting education and conservation, focussed on the Cromford Mills site.  The Society also owns and cares for Slinter Woods, Dunsley Meadows and the Lumsdale Valley, investing in woodland management and nature conservation, as well as the protection of the Scheduled Monument at Lumsdale.

The Arkwright Society purchased the Cromford Mills site in 1979 as an act of rescue and in the early 1980s began to implement its long-term restoration and economic plan.  This began with the removal of the modern buildings in the mill yard, built after it stopped spinning cotton and was used by other businesses.  The strategy adopted was to restore a building and put it to use to help fund the next phase of restoration, resulting in the multi-use heritage attraction you see today.

Many of the buildings have now been brought back into economic use and the site has a Visitor Centre, creative industries managed workspace, cafes, and several shops.  The Society has helped countless numbers of people access training and work and transformed Cromford Mills from a derelict site doomed to demolition to one of World Heritage Status, employing over 100 staff in numerous small businesses.

There is still a long way to go to complete the restoration of the site and remove the last buildings from the Historic England’s Heritage at Risk List.  The Master Plan for the Society outlines the next phases of restoration and considers the future visitor offer at Cromford Mills.  The overarching aim is to restore all the surviving mill buildings, converting them to mixed use alongside expanding the visitor offer to meet the high standards that come with being part of a World Heritage Site.  The money raised through the variety of income raising activities helps the Society move forward with these final phases; making Cromford Mills a better place for everyone and saving it for future generations.  Your visit helps us to reach this goal.

If you would like to support the Arkwright Society further, then you can take out an annual membership or join our amazing volunteer team.  Please visit the ‘Support Us’ page to find out more.