Hydro Power Project

The Arkwright Society’s waterpower project reduces our carbon footprint by putting waterpower back into the heart of Cromford Mills.  The industrial revolution started here using renewable waterpower, and so this project will return the site to its original renewable energy source, first harnessed 250 years ago.

Our new water wheel sits on the same site as Arkwright’s second wheel and makes use of the same water source to turn it. Arkwright’s wheel powered the cotton spinning machines in the second mill he built here at Cromford. Although that mill is no longer standing, amongst its ruined foundations, we have been able to bring back waterpower using the historic structure of Arkwright’s wheel pit.

This amazing project was delivered by Derwent Hydroelectric Power Ltd, (DHPL), James Boon Architects, Oakenstone Build Ltd, Simon Gill, former Operations Director and the Arkwright Society maintenance team.  David Willcox, engineer and specialist in renewable energy designed and installed the waterwheel.  Matrix installed the water source heating system.

This project was made possible by many supporters including, The Midlands Net Zero Hub, The Rural Community Energy Fund, Severn Trent Community Fund,  Green Entrepreneurs Fund, Vaillant UK, Gilbert Gilkes & Gordon Ltd, Envervestment, IMS Heatpumps and Idom Merebrook. It was also supported by a crowdfunding campaign which was match funded by Gilbert Gilkes & Gordon Ltd. We would like to specifically thank Joan Link, Peter South, Ian Briggs and Ingrid Pasteur for their generous contributions.

The Arkwright Society at Cromford Mills would not be in existence if it had not been for generous donations and support from individuals, businesses, foundations and trusts since 1979.


(image shows the installation of the refurbished turbine from Gilbert Gilkes & Gordon Ltd)

Please enjoy this video about how the project was conceived and how it was planned to benefit the site. 

Simon Gill, the Arkwright Society’s Operations Director, said: “This is a fantastic project to return waterpower to the mill that created the first factory system at the start of the Industrial Revolution.  As part of our drive to transform Cromford Mills into a more sustainable and greener site, we hope this project will spark more interest in sustainable energy sources and inspire people working on other heritage sites to play a part in shaping the future of our world. We are also looking forward to connecting the project with Cromford Village and working with the local community”.

Sue Heyes, Severn Trent Community Fund Officer, said: “Sustainability is really important to us at Severn Trent, which is why we’re delighted to help fund this wonderful project that will provide hydro-power to what is such an historic site.

“Making a positive difference to the local community in which we live and operate is at the core of what we do so we wish the team at Cromford Mills all the best with this project, and we look forward to seeing the final result next year.”

These videos from February 2023 explore what we learned during the excavation for the wheel pit

April 2023 Update: Excavation Work Continues.

Simon outlines the foundations of the Hydro Project and begins to create an image of where each of the elements will be placed.

Other links

BBC News: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-derbyshire-62371562

University of Nottingham: https://www.nottingham.ac.uk/research/research-areas/energy-institute/work-with-us/case-studies/cromford-mill/the-future-of-hydroelectric-power-at-cromford-mills.aspx