PRESS RELEASE: Thursday 5 October 2017

Derby Museums has received confirmation of funding from both the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and Arts Council England (ACE), for the Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill project. This project will sustainably redevelop Derby Silk Mill, site of the world’s first factory and part of the UNESCO Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, to create an inspirational new museum uniquely made in collaboration with people of Derby. The new museum will open in 2020, in time for the tri-centenary celebration of the Silk Mill as the site of the world’s first factory.

HLF have confirmed that they will be supporting the project with a £9.4m investment, making this the biggest National Lottery funded project in Derby to date.

Jonathan Platt, Head of HLF East Midlands, said:
“Derbyshire is synonymous with making of all kinds, from the textile industries of the past to today’s engineering pioneers. We applaud Derby Museums for its imaginative plans to tell the area’s compelling story through the redevelopment of this internationally important historic mill.  We are hugely grateful to National Lottery players who make our funding possible and we hope many of them will come to enjoy a day out at the Museum of Making once it’s open to the public.”

Arts Council England have also confirmed that they will be contributing £2.5m to the project.

Peter Knott, Area Director, Midlands, Arts Council England, said:
“We’re delighted to be investing in Derby Museums’ fantastic plans for its Museum of Making. This new museum will be a place where arts and culture meld with science and technology. Building on Derby’s rich industrial legacy we hope the museum will be a place which inspires the creators and makers of the future. The funding is from the National Lottery, it is your money coming back into your community, and we want as many people as possible to enjoy its benefits.”

The project once complete will reveal the whole building for the first time, re-introducing manufacturing to the site of the world’s first factory by involving people in the making and creating of the new museum . The new Museum will celebrate Derby’s heritage as a city of makers through its internationally, regionally and locally significant collections and provide public access to all of these collections. It will provide opportunities for local people to gain new skills and experiences and will aim to raise aspirations of future generations of innovators and makers. Derby Silk Mill – Museum of Making will be ‘Inspired by the Makers of the past, made by the makers of today and empowering the makers of the future’.

 Wayne Hemingway, Designer  and co-founder National Festival of Making Life said:
“Without being able to make in the UK we would never have been able to start our businesses and wouldn’t have been able to set up one of the UK’s most uplifting events The National Festival of Making in Blackburn . Making is part of Britain’s DNA. It’s a story told through the people and the buildings but, as with towns and cities in the UK, it’s a story that is at risk if our young people decide against manufacturing careers and our industries shift their focus abroad. Now is the time to inspire a new generation to see what is possible through invention, innovation, skills and risk taking – the making and remaking of real and useful things. The Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill is the perfect vehicle to do this, both through the way it is being created via participatory approaches and by utilising unique assets such as the collections, stories, along with local knowledge and skills, to ensure it is relevant to people’s lives.”

The project has been developed through a period of public engagement that goes far beyond consultation, starting in 2011. In the latest project phase over 19,000 people have taken part in
co-producing the new Museum of Making through over 190 events including; workshop and activity sessions, informal drop-ins, public consultation events and volunteering opportunities. People have been involved in a diverse range of activities including sharing their making stories, making activities, curating collections, building prototyping, researching, digitising, conserving and packing collections, to date contributing over 11,551 volunteer hours of time worth over £226,000 in kind value to the project. A total of 2210 pupils and students at local schools, colleges and Universities have engaged in facilitated sessions, workshops, pilot programmes and project based learning activities.

 Pat Coleman, Chair of Derby Museums Trust said:
“This is fantastic news for Derby. When the Trust took on responsibility for running Derby’s Museums in 2012 we agreed with the City Council that a top priority would be the redevelopment of the Silk Mill. Our wonderfully creative team of staff have achieved the funding for a more extensive and imaginative scheme than we could have hoped for and within a shorter timescale too.  We are all absolutely elated. We are also grateful for the support of key partners – Derby City Council, Rolls-Royce, Derby University, Derby College and colleagues from the Derwent Valley World Heritage Site and the architects and designers who have worked with us on developing the scheme.”

£4m has been also been committed by Derby City Council, £3.65m of which has been secured through the Local Growth Fund.

The balance of funding for the project has come from a range of private trusts and foundations.

Councillor Amo Raju, Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Tourism at Derby City Council, said:
“We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England have given the green light for the re-development of the Silk Mill. The HLF have been great supporters of Derby in recent years by funding the restoration of Derby Arboretum and Markeaton Park as well as several other cultural projects. Arts Council England has recently announced investment of more £10.1 million over four years in Derby through their National Portfolio of Organisations. It has been important to us to support this project which is a key element of the City Centre masterplan and we are certain that the redevelopment of the Silk Mill and creation of the Museum of Making will ensure Derby continues to be a great place to live, work and visit.” 

Rolls-Royce, whose largest site is in Derby, has committed one of its iconic Trent aircraft engines to the new museum, giving the project a significant boost.  This addition to the city’s collection represents Derby’s 21st century story of making and innovation. 

Peter Price, Deputy Group Chief Engineer, Rolls-Royce, commented:
“The Museum of Making project will further boost Derby’s credentials as a city where innovative technologies are designed and made.  More importantly, this gives the city the opportunity to harness Derby’s rich heritage to inspire and encourage young people into STEM education, training and employment, supporting the future success of businesses and communities.”


For further information please contact: Emma Hallam on or 01332 641925.


Notes to editors

About Derby Museums
Founded in 2012, Derby Museums is an independent charitable trust which is responsible for the rich cultural and creative history of Derby. It manages three sites across the city, the Museum and Art Gallery, Pickford’s House and The Silk Mill, and holds and curates all the art and collections within them, including the world’s largest collection of paintings by Joseph Wright of Derby.

The Trust’s aim is to bring as many of the objects and treasures in the collections into the public domain as is practically possible and present them in ways that delight and inspire, via education and learning programmes, events and exhibitions, in order to share knowledge and inspire creativity and making amongst the people of Derby.

Derby Silk Mill
Derby Silk Mill is built on the foundations of the first factory in the world.  The new Museum of Making will bring to light Derby Museums’ significant collections of Making and Social History, the story of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site (DVMWHS); and the continuing influence of Derby today.

A clear narrative runs through 300 years of the city’s history. The original factory was commissioned by the Lombe brothers in about 1719, after conducting industrial espionage in Italy, and completed by local engineer George Sorocold in 1721/22. The Mill was designed to make silk thread using the new idea of the factory system and utilised a large, powerful waterwheel to drive all of the machinery, which was worked by an organised force of employees. The Mill was an immediate ‘wonder’ and marvelled at throughout the 18th century by many commentators, including Daniel Defoe and Benjamin Franklin. The manufacturing features of the mill provided a prototype for Richard Arkwright’s cotton mill at Cromford and thus for all subsequent iterations of the factory system worldwide. The original mill buildings were damaged, repaired and altered over time. They show 300 years of industrial enterprise in the Derwent Valley, acknowledged in its status as a World Heritage Site.

Derby Museums has secured major grant funding of £9.4m from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £2.5m from Arts Council England, £4m from Derby City Council via the Local Growth Fund, and support from a range of charitable trusts and foundations for the £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 and is due to open in 2020.

About the Heritage Lottery Fund
Thanks to National Lottery players, we invest money to help people across the UK explore, enjoy and protect the heritage they care about – from the archaeology under our feet to the historic parks and buildings we love, from precious memories and collections to rare wildlife.  Follow us onTwitterFacebook and Instagram and use #HLFsupported and #NationalLottery.

For more information please contact Katie Owen, HLF Press Office, on 020 75916036 / 07973613820 or

About Arts Council England
Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to digital art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2015 and 2018, we plan to invest £1.1 billion of public money from government and an estimated £700 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.