Dales landmark gets revamp

Celebrations are in order for members of the Arkwright Society after their £425,000 bid to refurbish Building 17 at Cromford Mills has been awarded, meaning work will start next month.

The funding – which comprises of £400,000 from The Monument Trust and £25,000 from the Sylvia Waddilove Foundation UK – is the first phase in a £48 million restoration of the mills.

The work will transform the building into a creative hub for emerging businesses. It will also create a northern gateway for visitors to the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, providing information, visitor orientation and interpretation about Cromford Mills.

Chief Executive of the Arkwright Society, Sarah McLeod, said that the group had worked “extremely hard” to secure the funding needed to do the work.

“It was absolutely essential that we received this support to progress a project that will bring significant opportunities and lasting benefits to the local community and to the Derwent Valley,” she said.

The work is expected to be completed for opening in Autumn 2014.

The largest mill building on site, Building 17, has sat empty and in disrepair for more than 30 years. On the English Heritage ‘at risk’ register, the Arkwright Society has put the mill at the centre of an exciting masterplan to transform Cromford Mills into a multi-use sustainable heritage, cultural tourism, hospitality, business and enterprise destination. The complex will include a heritage facility telling the story of the life, achievements and legacy of Sir Richard Arkwright, learning and education centre, conference and events facilities, high quality self-catering accommodation, and new catering outlets.

Under the first phase Building 17 is being carefully repaired and converted to create on the ground floor a northern Gateway for visitors to the UNESCO Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site (the only World Heritage Site in the East Midlands). The Gateway centre will provide information, visitor orientation and interpretation about Cromford Mills and the 15 mile long World Heritage Site, to help local and international visitors appreciate its importance and encourage them to visit the 16 heritage sites along the valley.

The four upper floors of Building 17 will contain a cluster of managed workspace units for new and expanding creative and innovative businesses. The total lettable space in the ‘creative cluster’ will be 744.8sqm (8,014sqft). Removable floor-to-ceiling partitions on floors one to three of the Creative Cluster will enable secure workspace units to be created to suit changing tenant requirements, providing units of approximately 16 to 37 square metres (175 to 400 square feet). The fourth floor will provide space for approximately 30 workstations for people who prefer to work within an open-plan format. A manager and shared reception/administration service will provide on-site support for tenant businesses, including signposting to relevant business advice services and links with the University of Derby. Added value will include networking with similar businesses and use of existing facilities at Cromford Mills, including meeting, conference and catering facilities.

The Arkwright Society believes that the regeneration of Building 17 will provide an economic stimulus to the region by supporting the formation of new businesses and the expansion of existing businesses, networking benefits for those businesses, and an increase in tourism business for the local economy of Cromford and in the vicinity of the 15 miles of the World Heritage Site.

Job creation and training in craftsmanship through the works being carried out on site are key to the project. The Arkwright Society is creating opportunities for training by partnering with local colleges and universities.

Chief Executive Sarah McLeod and her team have worked extremely hard to secure the funding needed to do the work:

“This is all about sustainable regeneration, preserving our heritage while helping provide an asset for the region. The plan is to create in Building 17 through careful adaptation and re-use a relevant, engaging and accessible space for all.”

Sarah thanked The Monument Trust and the Sylvia Waddilove Foundation for their grants:

“It was absolutely essential that we received this support to progress a project that will bring significant opportunities and lasting benefits to the local community and to the Derwent Valley.

We would like to thank The Monument Trust, the Sylvia Waddilove Foundation and all our public sector and private funders for their tremendous support and investment in helping make this happen,” said Sarah McLeod.

The World Heritage Site Gateway and Creative Cluster are expected to open in Autumn 2014.