United Kingdom: Renovation of Cromford Mills Building 17 honoured

The outstanding rehabilitation of Cromford Mills: Building 17 in Derbyshire was celebrated at its premises on 19 October. The Duke of Devonshire and President of The Arkwright Society, the small voluntary organisation that initiated and carried out the project, received the EU Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award 2017 from Peter Collins, Council Member of Europa Nostra and Chairman of Europa Nostra UK. Some 80 participants, including representatives from the main organisations involved in the project and children from the South Darley Primary School, attended this special ceremony.

2017 Ceremony for Cromford Mills: Building 17, UK

Cromford Mills is a large complex of industrial mills set in the beautiful Derwent Valley in Derbyshire, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It consists of 20 buildings, the most substantial of which were built commencing in 1771 by Sir Richard Arkwright, the inventor and entrepreneur. Arkwright, with his patented water frames, revolutionised the manufacture of cotton from a small cottage industry and created at Cromford Mills what is now regarded as the world’s first successful factory.

“The rehabilitation project of Building 17 represents a good adaptive reuse of a notable site of industrial heritage and is a key component of an important ensemble of buildings. Had it been demolished or left to further deteriorate, it would have been a scar on this World Heritage Site,” stated Peter Collins, quoting the Awards’ Jury citation.

“To win this prestigious Award is a phenomenal achievement and is testament to the hard work and dedication that has been put in by so many people over many years,” said David Williams, Chair of The Arkwright Society.

“Being at the heart of the Industrial Revolution, Building 17 is one of the most culturally important buildings in the UK. It will continue the sense of entrepreneurialism, innovation and creativity that characterised Arkwright’s mills,” he added.

The Arkwright Society secured substantial funds through a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £4 million and a European Regional Development Fund grant of £1 million to redevelop Building 17. The scheme has created a ground-floor visitor centre for the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site and office space for tenant businesses on the upper floors in an environment designed to encourage creativity and innovation.

“All credit to the Arkwright Society for their fabulous work over 40 years revitalising Cromford Mills. The project shows the great potential for regenerating redundant industrial sites through adaptive reuse – the recognition by the European Union and Europa Nostra is much deserved,” emphasised Matthew McKeague, Chief Executive Officer of the Architectural Heritage Fund.

“As well as being an important heritage project for Cromford and the World Heritage Site, the finished product is very engaging and well worth a visit,” noted Jonathan Platt, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund, East Midlands.

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