Sir Richard Arkwright’s Cromford Mills

22 February 2024

Sir Richard Arkwright’s Cromford Mills

Sector: Visitor attraction and educational charity

Location: Derbyshire Dales

Cromford Mills is a water-powered cotton mill that acts as the Northern Gateway to the Derwent Valley Mills UNESCO World Heritage Site. The building, seen as the birthplace of the modern factory system, was set up by industrialist Richard Arkwright in the 1770s.

The site was rescued from demolition in the 1970s by the Arkwright Society. Since then, an army of volunteers and supporters have worked tirelessly to re-invent the Mills as a centre for heritage, education and business support.

Challenges faced

As the charity receives no core funding from Government or elsewhere, its greatest challenge has been, and remains, maintaining its very existence. Rising energy costs have had a massive impact and electricity bills have increased four-fold. The site has a proud heritage as one of the world’s great enablers of water energy. It stands to reason, therefore, that renewable energy should once again sit at the heart of Cromford Mills’s ambition to become a net zero site.

Solution and Impact

The charity has secured Accelerator support in three key areas: one-to-one sessions with a business adviser, specialised energy consultancy, and training.

Dedicated time spent with the Chamber’s Head of Business Support Services Paul Stuart, has enabled the charity to consider what priority actions it needs to take to fulfil its long-term strategic ambitions. Bringing in a fresh pair of eyes to the charity’s operations is enabling Chief Executive Éilis Scott to identify best practice. One particularly relevant area of Paul’s operational expertise is his management of the Chamber’s Friars Mill premises in Leicester. As a site that combines industrial heritage, iconic architecture and a waterside setting, there are many similarities between it and the managed workspaces offered at Cromford. The charity has been given support too in developing opportunities around hosting larger-scale events.

Fully-funded specialist consultancy has also been provided in the form of an energy audit. Environmental experts Loreus have undertaken a detailed analysis of the charity’s energy usage, identifying where it might reduce its energy costs and carbon footprint, and presenting its findings as a decarbonisation plan.

There has been benefit too from training, with the charity’s marketing officer attending an Accelerator one-day workshop on Blogging with Authority.

"We greatly appreciate the invaluable support given through the Accelerator project. Specialist advice is helping us address our financial hurdles and review our energy management.

Paul’s support has also been fantastic, focusing on finding solutions and making informed decisions.”

- Éilis Scott, Chief Executive

Read the full Case Study


This initiative is funded by the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) and delivered by East Midlands Chamber on behalf of Derbyshire Dales District Council.

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