Hydro Power Project

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The Arkwright Society’s waterpower project aims to reduce 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, as it was originally, 250 years ago.

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.
With your generous contribution, you’re not just supporting a water wheel – you’re powering education, preservation, and innovation.



Waterpower returns to Cromford Mills to Kickstart a ‘Green’ Industrial Revolution.

Cromford Mills, built in 1771 by Sir Richard Arkwright, is no stranger to the power of water. This historic cotton spinning mill used water from the Bonsall Brook and Cromford Sough to turn three water wheels during the 18th and 19th Century. Now, that same green energy that Arkwright harnessed from the Bonsall Brook will once again provide energy and heat to the popular tourist attraction located in the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage site.

How will this benefit the site?

Where does the money and support come from?

The Arkwright Society have successfully been able to work with funders and partners to secure funding and assist the development of the project. Severn Trent, Derbyshire County Council’s Green Entrepreneurs Fund, The Wolfson Foundation, Valliant, RCEF, Derwent Hydro and James Boon Architects are supporting Cromford Mills and the return of hydro power to the local area.

The Cromford Waterpower project will reinstate a large 6m waterwheel and install a 15kW hydro-turbine to power the mill buildings. The scheme will also include water source heat pumps to provide heating to the site and will refurbish the hydro-turbine located at the Corn Mill in Cromford Village.

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.”

When is this project expected to be finished?

Careful planning and preparations are key in a project of this scale. Securing the funding earlier this year was a huge achievement and allows us to start putting the plan into action. Work is due to start in September 2022 with the aim of being fully operational by June 2023.

Update: Silt Works

February 2023 Update: Excavation

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