| Although easily overlooked by people on thier way to Matlock, the amazing contribution made by Cromford to the industrial history of not only the UK but also of the world make it well worth a visit. Cromford is no less than the place where the Industrial Revolution started.The hamlet of Cromford was shaken from its sleep by the arrival in the late 18th Century of the great indutrialist Richard Arkwright who chose Cromford as the site of his first water-powered cotton spinning mill. Such was the success that Arkwright enjoyed with his venture at Cromford he also built further mills in the area, including other local mills at Wirksworth and Masson.To provide sufficient labour for his mills Arkwright developed local housing and it’s from this that Cromford developed from a hamlet into a significant industrial village. The houses on North Street in Cromford in particular are typical of the accomodation Arkwright built and thier historical significance is these days recognised by not only thier listed status but also by thier part-ownership by The National Trust. The school at the end of North Street was built by Arkwright, who insisted that the children who came to work at his mills be literate and educated.Arkwright also brought the Canal to Cromford, which linked the town to the national canal network, but this was soon superceded by the linking of Cromford to the railways and at High Peak Junction 2 miles down the valley the remains of the incredible inclined plain that was used to link the Cromford Canal to the cross-peak High Peak Railway can still be seen, while the remains of the pulling engines can be visited at Middleton Top.Like other trans-peak railway lines, the High Peak Trail has now been restored as a footpath and cycle way and Cromford makes an ideal base from which to explore it.
Arkwright received a knighthood for his achievements and its amazing to think that it all started here at Cromford. In recognition of the significance of it all his mill at Cromford is now a World Heritage site and is open to the public while it undergoes an expensive restoration. His grand mill at Masson, just around the corner, is now a modern shopping complex.
The Cromford Canal
|The Cromford Canal is at the bottom of the gardens of Oakford Cottage.This stretch and the footpath runs from Cromford to Ambergate and is a haven for wildlife.|
|All part of the Derwent Valley Heritage Site and a designated area of Special Scientific Interest.|
The Derbyshire Dales
|The limestone dales found in Derbyshire and the Peak District are usually cut by crystal clear rivers and often flanked by precipitous cliffs or pinnacles. Some like Dovedale and Lathkill are extremely popular and busy, especially on fine weekends.|
Crich Tramway Village
|Just a few miles from Cromford is the famous National Tramway Museum. Well worth a visit when you are in the area.|
|The large and sprawling village of Crich sits high in the rolling Derbyshire hills five miles south-east of Matlock, where the White Peak extends a thin finger of carboniferous limestone into the gritstone country east of the wooded Derwent Valley. This ancient settlement has long been a `gateway to the Peak District’, and sits strategically placed on the route of an old ridgeway which runs north from the Trent Basin and on up into Yorkshire.The familiar landmark of Crich Stand rises from the highest point of the limestone outcrop known as Crich Cliff, whose massive white face looks westward and can be seen by travellers as far away as the A6 between Cromford and Ambergate. The lighthouse-like monument is itself visible from five counties, and on a clear day Lincoln Cathedral can be seen from it’s base.Modern roads converge on the village from every direction, providing evidence of it’s importance as a regional centre of industry and commerce, which it has been at varying times thoughout it’s two thousand year history. This reached a peak during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when Crich was caught up in the Industrial Revolution and railways and knitting machines were added to the lead-mining, quarrying, smelting, lime burning and farming which had previously occupied the increasingly growing population.|
|Nestling in a bowl of hills at the northern end of the beautiful Ecclesbourne Valley about six miles south of Matlock and bisected by the Cromford to Ashbourne road, Wirksworth is one of the oldest settlements in the county, having been almost continuously occupied for at least two thousand years. It has a long and fluctuating history, recorded from early Saxon times. The Romans mined lead here, but when they arrived around 55 – 60 AD, the Iron Age Celts already had an established local economy, with two ancient trading routes, later used by the Anglo-Saxon’s as `Portwegs’ or Portways, intersecting at a place occupied today by Wirksworth’s enchanting, crazily- tilted Market Place.|
|Nowadays a revitalised Wirksworth is fast becoming an important tourist centre, and rewards it’s visitors with much of interest and fascination, from the enchanting narrow streets and alleyways, with views of surrounding roof-scapes and distant green hills, to the rich architectural heritage of it’s restored Georgian splendour.The magnificent cruciform parish church of St. Mary, founded in 653 AD by an Anglo-Saxon monk named Betti, stands sedately in the centre of a charming cathedral-type circular close, and is itself encircled by the paved and cobbled Church Walk, with entrances leading from it through a variety of alleyways into the surrounding town streets.The Barmote Court, the oldest industrial court in the world with much of its terminology and regulations dating from Saxon times, still meets twice annually at the Moot Hall in Chapel Lane as it is known to have done since 1266, and probably for much longer. A standard bronze measuring dish holding 14 pints of ore and presented by Henry V111 in 1512 hangs on the wall. By tradition the twelve jurymen are provided with bread, cheese and beer, and afterwards long clay pipes are smoked, and have become greatly prized collector’s items.The ancient custom of well dressing takes place here with nine wells being dressed annually on late spring bank holiday Saturday, which is also the time of the town’s annual carnival, and modern Wirksworth also boasts an annual Arts Festival in September. Another valuable resource is the National Stone Centre situated alongside the High Peak Trail, just off Porter Lane, which has a permanent indoor exhibition, `The Story of Stone’, and mineral specimens from around the world can be purchased at The Rock Shop. Outside there are trails over ancient fossil reefs, including one of the finest examples in England of a coral reef from the carboniferous period.|