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Silk Mill Opening Times

Thursday 3-9pm

Friday 1-5pm

Saturday 1-5pm

Sunday 11am-3pm

Bank Holidays: CLOSED



Christmas Eve (Thursday 24 December)
The Silk Mill – CLOSED

Friday 25 December – 3 January 2016 – CLOSED

Derby’s stunning Silk Mill building stands on the site of the world’s first factory and is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is currently going through a process of development, reinventing itself for the 21st century to create Derby Silk Mill – Museum of Making opening in 2019/20.
The ground floor of the Silk Mill is open after our first phase of refurbishment that has hosted the pilot community rebuilding project – Re:Make the Museum. Members of the public have been involved as citizen curators, taking part in organised sessions, helping design and build new displays, furniture and fittings for the ground floor from scratch. Participants have learned new skills, met new people and had a direct input into the future of one of the city’s most well-loved icons. There are now over 20 items on display on the ground floor that represent a fraction of our collection of Derby’s heritage of making and innovation.

This successful pilot project has enabled Derby Museums to secure a first round pass for major grant funding of £9.4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund and £4m Derby City Council of a £16.4m development to create Derby Silk Mill – Museum of Making. The project will open up the whole of the Silk Mill, creating beautiful spaces to inspire our visitors and will provide access to 100% of Derby Museums’ collections of Making and Social History. The new museum will have our communities at its heart and be uniquely co-produced with the people of Derby over the next few years.
Pop down to see the result of our pilot project and see how our plans for the full development are progressing. Please take advantage of the opportunities to get involved in activities and by checking out our ‘What’s On’ programme or by following us on Twitter and Facebook.
We have £2.5m match funding to secure to enable us to deliver the new Museum of Making. If you would like to support us by becoming a Founding Donor or Corporate Sponsor then please contact us at info@derbymuseums.org to find out more.

You are welcome to download the executive summary document here (please be aware that this is a 6mb pdf document).
For more on the action research consultation for The Silk Mill project see the project Tumblr. You can also click on the Re:Make menu item to find out more about our co-production approach through 2013-15.

Early history of the Silk Mill
Originally built to house machines for twisting silk together to make threads, the Silk Mill has an exciting early history. The design of the machines was copied by John Lombe, during a period he spent in Italy, working within the Italian Silk Industry. This is possibly the first-ever example of industrial espionage!
These new huge, machines were capable of producing far greater quantities of silk than traditional spinsters who worked in their homes on spinning wheels. The new machines required large buildings and a considerable power source, and an undershot water wheel turned by a millstream on the west side of the new Silk Mill drove the massive spinning machines. Factory-scale silk spinning like this would become serious competition for the Italians.

This engine contains 26,586 Wheels, and 96,746 Movements, which work 73,726 yards of Silk – thread, every time the Waterwheel goes round, which is does three times in one minute 

Daniel Defoe ‘ A Tour thro’ the Whole Island of Great Britain ‘ 1742


Transitional Spaces are the places that we are beginning to use to show our previously stored collections.


Derby Museums have a collection that is wide ranging and varied. We hope that you find something to interest you.


The Mildand Railway Study Centre at the Silk Mill is the UK's largest pre-nationalisation railway archive.

About Us

Derby Museums is a charitable trust responsible for the rich cultural and creative history of Derby. The Trust manages three sites: the City Museum and Art Gallery, Pickford’s House and The Silk Mill, and all art and collections are held and curated by the Trust.

Derby Museums,
Museum and Art Gallery,
The Strand,
Derby, DE1 1BS

01332 641901

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As a charitable trust, Derby Museums relies on funding and grants from organisations and donations from businesses and the general public. Find out more about how you can support our work through donations or by volunteering…

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