The Derwent Valley Mills are the birthplace of the factory system and were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2001.
It was in the Derwent Valley that – thanks to pioneering work by Richard Arkwright, Jedediah Strutt, the Lombe brothers and others – the essential ingredients of factory production were successfully combined. Water Power was applied and successfully used for the first time on a relatively large scale. Not only was silk throwing and cotton spinning revolutionised with dramatic consequences for the British economy, the Arkwright model system also informed and inspired developments in other countries and industries.
The first stages of the factory system were set in motion when the Lombe brothers set up a silk mill in Derby in the early 1720s, based on examples seen in Italy. The Gateway gallery at the Museum of Making tells more about this story.
See an Act of Parliament rewarding Thomas Lombe for introducing the machines for making and working organsine silk in Derby; a sample of silk reputed to be produced on this very site in its early days, and an original Cromford Dollar which was issued by Arkwright & Co to mill workers at Cromford.
Build your own system of cogs to learn how Derby Silk Mill turned the natural power of the river into energy to drive the production of silk thread.
Learn the story of Derby Silk Mill and the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, the valley that changed the world.