Museum & Visitor Centre
Come and explore Strutt’s North Mill to find out how Jedediah Strutt helped introduce mechanised cotton spinning to the Derwent Valley, sparking the Industrial Revolution, and transforming Belper into the world’s first cotton mill town.
See inside one of the earliest iron-framed, fire-proof, multi-storied buildings in the world, and understand how Belper North Mill inspired the construction of skyscrapers.
Discover the factory system’s social impact on ordinary people’s lives, and experience what life would have been like for a mill worker in Belper.
Strutt’s North Mill
Our Museum & Visitor Centre first opened in 1996 and has developed greatly since then. It is operated by the Belper North Mill Trust, a registered charity, and is staffed by a group of enthusiastic volunteers, all dedicated to preserving and interpreting the industrial past of the cotton industry, Belper and the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.
The Visitor Centre at Strutt’s North Mill is free to enter and consists of a well-stocked gift shop. Here you can obtain information on other local attractions and on the World Heritage Site or if you have a query, our Reception volunteers will be pleased to help.
There is also a seating area where visitors can purchase light refreshments.
A modest charge is made for visiting the Museum, which is entered via the Visitor Centre. Included in the admission price is an optional tour from one of our knowledgeable guides, plus a free pass that allows you to visit as many times as you like within a 12-month period. This pass will also give you discounts at nearby Cromford Mills, Crich Tramway Village and Derby Museum & Art Gallery.
Entering the Museum, you will come first to the Upper Wheel Pit, once the location of the Mill’s giant waterwheel. This is an area where temporary exhibitions and activities are staged. There is also a video presentation introducing you to the Mill.
Beyond here is The Spinning Floor. This is part of the ground floor of the five-storey Mill and it was here that cotton spinning took place. A number of historically important textile machines are displayed and the gallery also tells the story of the Strutt family and how their extensive Belper Mills complex developed and then contracted. Local hosiery manufacture, the art of chevening, and the social history of the mill town are also explored.
At the far end, a flight of steps leads down to ‘The Cave of the Mill’, an impressive undercroft. The unique architecture of the fireproof mill is explained, together with the complex water-powered mechanism that operated the hundreds of machines on the floors above. A peek into the gloom of the Lower Wheel Pit and the murky waters of the River Derwent provides an intriguing finale to your visit.