Saturday, March 01, 2008

A visit to Cromford

Cromford is a place we visit quite often and a place we pass through quite often too on our way to visit family in Chesterfield. When we visit Cromford we always park at the mill and walk along the canal and have a cup of coffee in either of the two coffee shops there. I can count on one hand the number of times we've actually walked in the village itself and I was determined this time to have a good look around. Cromford has an interesting history but it's appearance today has everything to do with one man, Sir Richard Arkwright. Son of a Lancashire tailor, as a young man he worked for a peruke (wig) maker and then set up his own barber's shop. Whilst scouring the country for hair to make his wigs he became fascinated with the textile industry and set about designing his own cotton spinning machine. To cut a long story short he moved to Nottingham, patented his machine with the help of others but then found financial constraints meant another move and Cromford was the ideal place to harness the water power from the River Derwent. Below is a photo of the mill as it is today. Up on the hill is Rock House, Arkwright's first home.

Before he moved to the one below - Willersley Castle.

We started our walk near The Greyhound Hotel which was built by Richard Arkwright in 1778 for business men and visitors to Cromford. Apparently a bank was incorporated into the building. The clock is the original. The shops to the right of the Greyhound were market stalls. Richard Arkwright obtained a market charter in 1790. This area would have been a very busy place in the late 18th century with people coming from miles around to shop, bank and do business.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the village for me are the wonderful rows of three story, grit stone cottages built around 1776/77, for the mill workers. Originally they had a living room at ground floor level, a bedroom on the first floor and on the second floor, well lit by windows either side would have been frame work knitting rooms. Kitchens and bathrooms were added much later. The photo below shows some of the cottages on North Street.

Below are more cottages, this time on the main street, these have little garden frontages.

The village pond, seen below is well used by ducks and geese. Across the other side of the pond is the area of Scarthin which has connections with the lead mining industry. The miners used to live there in little cottages at different levels, many of which have been demolished over the years.

Running at the back of the market place where The Grehound Hotel stands is Scarthin and this road leads to the Post Office (up for sale with business, five bedroomed house and annexe) and one of my favourite places.

Scarthin Books is a wonderful, treasure trove of rooms and floors of books, anything and everything you could want. Books high up the walls, books lining the stairs, poky little back rooms full of books both old and new.

It also has a coffee shop, hidden behind a moving shelf of books; you can see the tables in the mirror on the back of the door.

I think I'll stop here now for a well earned coffee break and I'll continue with more about Cromford at a later date when, to celebrate a special anniversary, I'll take you along the canal to see some Dab Chicks.


  1. How many times can I tell you your pictures and narratives of the places you visit are very enjoyable. If your blog was a book, it would be on my coffee table right now. You could call it 'Corners of England'.
    Have a good weekend

  2. oh, Lois, thank you so much for your lovely comment - I'm glad you enjoyed the post :)

  3. My family and I visited Cromford lat week in an attempt to bring the Industrial revolution alive for my 12 year old son (He was finding history boring at school). We had passed through it many times but never stopped. It is an absolutley wonderful place and your photos are great.

  4. diane, I hope your son enjoyed his visit, I'm sure it would have brought the Industrial Revolution alive for him - did you visit Masson Mill as well?

  5. Yes - visited Masson mill, and my daughter got some bargain jeans (Miss Sixty, should have been £70 and were £3.50!!!!) so we all went home happy - except I didnt leave enough time to visit the fabric shop in Matlock - but this left my hubby happy (and richer!!)

  6. Cromford is a really interesting place and Scarthin Books has been one of my favourite places for years. It's ages since I've been, time for another visit I think though not in the weather we're having today!