Visitor Centre

Discover more about the Derwent Valley in the Visitor Centre @ Building 17 with interactive displays, games and puzzles providing you with everything you need to know to make the most of your visit to the area.

Our model of the 15-mile-long Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site allows you to explore all the key heritage and wildlife sites using the interactive touch screens, before you head off by canal boat, train or on foot to see this incredible valley first-hand.  There are over 20 attractions within walking distance of the Visitor Centre and our helpful volunteers are on hand to guide you as you plan your day.  Watch our introductory film revealing why this amazing valley was inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and discover how the textile industry developed in this rural valley over 250 years ago and became a cornerstone of the industrial revolution.

The exhibition continues with the story of the Derwent Valley’s global impact on the cotton industry, and you can meet Sir Richard Arkwright himself in the world’s first water powered cotton spinning mill where he brings the building to life in the CGI Arkwright Experience. Hear how he created his cotton spinning empire and watch as floors and machines appear in front of your eyes. The Arkwright Experience is only available as part of the Mill guided tour.

Discover what happened to the site after it finished spinning cotton in the 1840s and the life of the mills since then, including the restoration challenge faced by the Arkwright Society to bring the buildings back into use and create the heritage attraction you can see today.