Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Derwent Valley (Milford to the Derwent Hotel)

My personal challenge for this round of Miss Jenny Matlock's alphabe-Thursday is to post about a location within the borders of my own county of Derbyshire, UK, for each letter of the alphabet.

Each time, the letter will mark the spot.

D is for the Derwent Valley (Milford to the Derwent Hotel)

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In total, the River Derwent is 50 miles long, rising on Axe Edge (up north) and flowing into the Trent south east of Derby. For the purpose of this post, I am concentrating on a 7 mile stretch between the village of Milford, just north of Duffield and the Derwent Hotel at Whatstandwell. I'm taking you in my direction of travel and showing you just a snippet of what this route has to offer.

This is part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, which was at the heart of the industrial revolution during the 18th Century, when new technologies first made cotton and silk cloth manufacture possible on an industrial scale..

Milford was named for its river crossing; part of an ancient route between Derby and the Peak District. From medieval times, there has been industry here; a corn mill, dying and fulling mills and iron forges. In 1781, that industry became rather larger scale when Jedediah Strutt bought land by the river to set up a cotton mill. Eventually, this mill contained sections for spinning, bleaching and dying, as well as foundries, a gas works and a corn mill. In the process, Strutt also built worker housing, a school and farms to supply food for his workers.

This view of the river is taken from the double arched bridge also built by him (but widened in 1906 to accommodate the increase in traffic!). Now, the bridge contends with a high volume of modern traffic, as the main A6 runs over it, through the centre of the village.

Moving north...

Before he purchased his land in Milford, Strutt had already established a cotton mill in Belper. His original mill was built in 1776, but destroyed by fire in 1803. Its replacement was built in 1804, by his son, William and its iron framed construction was designed to be fire proof; one of the oldest surviving buildings of this design in the world. The mill also had warm air central heating throughout and housed a school room in the roof space (floor 6).

In process order, the mill contained carding engines and drawing frames (to comb and straighten the cotton into fibres - floors 3&4), spinning frames (twisting the fibres into thread on bobbins - floors 1&2) and reeling frames (to wind the thread into skeins ready for dying at Milford - floor 5).


The mill was powered by an eighteen foot diameter water wheel, built for him by Thomas Hughes. The power generated by the river drove the wheel, which in turn drove rotating vertical shafts, geared to horizontal shafts which ran the length of each floor and powered the machinery via leather belts.

The Derwent Valley Heritage Site visitor centre is housed in Strutts Mill and gives details of all of the other mills and historic sites of interest along the river.

Good lines of communication have always been important for industry. The valley is a natural routeway and remains so today, with the main North and North East mainline railway running along here...

...and the main A6 road (which currently runs between Luton in Bedfordshire and Carlisle in Cumbria - on the border with Scotland).

Moving north a few more miles is the Derwent hotel, on the corner of the A6 by another bridge. It's been good for food for quite some time, but was recently refurbished meaning that the surroundings in which the food is eaten are much lighter and smarter looking now!

and looking north (upstream) from here, it is possible to see how the valley deepens and narrows, leading towards the gorge near Cromford and Matlock Bath.

Although there is still industry along the river today, it is difficult to look at these scenes and imagine that the modern factory system basically started here!


  1. Wonderful outing! Just what I needed after being confined at home for the past few days. Thank you!

  2. Hi again!

    Great virtual tour -as always!

    Have a great weekend ahead & look forward to *seeing* you again next time,


    Btw Alphabe-Thursday

  3. beautiful, especially love the water way shots.

  4. again, very interesting--descriptions and the photos.

    Happy Birthday!

  5. Thanks for the tour, ...and the history to go alone with it!

  6. interesting idea. I have heard of Derwent but then again, I have not been out of the country much.

    hope your day is sweet!

  7. That's a part of your country about which I've read - and I've seen lots of films set there, I'm sure. It's lovely. Thanks for that tour!

  8. Wow..that is an incredible place, and full of wonderful information. I've heard of Peak District mentioning from reading classic and can't wait to see if you'd include it in your P post..

    I'm not rushing you or anything :-)

  9. It's just a beautiful part of the world. I enjoyed my visit. Thank you for the informative and interesting post.

  10. Everything is so green and lovely!

  11. Oh wonderful! Another history lesson along with your gorgeous shots! Nice one, H.

    Tina @ Life is Good

  12. What always amazes me is the age of the buildings. This coming from someone who lives in a city that just celebrated it's Centennial.

  13. Lovely post, thankyou. I enjoyed visiting a mill somewhere near to Cromford and Matlock which was open to the public, some years ago, but not as old as this one.

  14. Wow! I was excited when I came to your link and our trip continued! What a fascinating post. Love the history and the views and the amazing age on the buildings.

    Just delightful!

    I see in Joy's comment above she visited Matlock! My husband has some family histories that show many of his ancestors coming from Matlock, England!

    Thanks for linking. I really adore these posts.


  15. Your photos are lovely. It looks like such a peaceful place!

  16. Once again beautiful photos. I particularly like the third photo. The colours are so clear. I also like the one of the weir. Keep them coming.

  17. I know you know I was here yesterday! Just wanted to see if you had lost all your comments, too! I'm sorry!

    And you know I love your travel series!

    Hope to read about Matlock in a few months!

    Thanks again for linking.


  18. what a super idea love it

  19. OH! Wow! What a D-lightful idea! I love all your lovely photos of this very lovely area!

    Blessings & Aloha!
    Thankful that Blogger is up and running again! I have been wanting to comment sooner.

  20. I'm so glad that your blog and all of your beautiful photos are back again. Everything is so green, and pretty.

  21. Those are some beautiful photos of Dewent Vally! I love seeing photos of the English countryside. They are so beautiful and the architecture is just so fantastic to see :)