THE SILK MILL
Silk Mill Opening Times
The Silk Mill is reinventing itself for the 21st century and, through reviving the principles of the Enlightenment, expanding traditional perspectives of what a museum is and can be. We are developing the concept of STEAM in the UK – advancing STEM disciplines (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) to incorporate the element of Art, understanding that creativity is an intrinsic part of thinking, making and innovating.
From September 2013 volunteers have been invited to take part in an exciting community rebuilding project ‘Remake the Museum.’ This project has been supported by funding from The Happy Museum Project and Arts Council England and has enabled members of the public to become 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.
The team has been made up of curatorial staff from the Museum, our first ‘makers in residence’ TILT and architects Bauman Lyons. The work started in earnest following the second Derby Mini Maker Faire, when the museum has been regularly open for this programme of activities.
The ground floor of the Silk Mill is open after our first phase of refurbishment that is feeding into the larger programme of redevelopment over the coming years.
Pop down to see the resulting fit out as it develops into the space, or take advantage of opportunities to get involved in activities but checking out our ‘What’s On’ programme or by following us on twitter and facebook.
Derby’s stunning Silk Mill building stands on the site of the world’s first factory and is the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As a building of great historical importance to the city, Derby Museums is keen to conserve the most valuable aspects of the site, while modernising the building and evolving the entire space into a museum and environment that best serves the needs of the people of Derby. So do bear with us – we’re hoping to create an inspiring space that celebrates the creativity of Derby and provides a place for everyone to enjoy that the whole city can be proud of.
Early history of the Silk Mill
Originally built to house machines for twisting silk together to make threads, the Silk Mill has a 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.
IN 1722, JOHN LOMBE DIED IN VERY MYSTERIOUS CIRCUMSTANCES. IT WAS WIDELY BELIEVED THAT HE WAS POISONED BY AN ITALIAN AS VENGEANCE FOR STEALING THEIR TRADE SECRETS…
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.