A Plan for the Future

Rescue, Restore, Revitalise:
New Beginnings for the Belper North Mill

A Heritage Lottery Fund Transition Funding Project

Strutt’s mills, once the heart of the cotton spinning town of Belper, are a key part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, the birthplace of the factory system where in the 18th century, using new technologies, water power was successfully harnessed for textile production.

Yet despite their outstanding importance, the North Mill (Grade 1 Listed) and the road archway and footbridge on this site (Grade 2* Listed) are now classified as ‘At Risk’ by Historic England, while many of the other structures, mill water courses and buildings, including the East Mill, Belper’s premier landmark, are unoccupied and at risk of deterioration.

The Belper North Mill Trust is a tenant in the North Mill where it runs the Derwent Valley Visitor Centre and a small museum and has been concerned for many years about the condition of these important buildings.

In 2015 the Trust successfully applied to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a project entitled ‘Rescue, Restore, Revitalise: new beginnings for the Belper North Mill’, a key element of which was to look at ways in which the Belper mills site might be restored and brought back to life. The result of this work is ‘An Outline Masterplan for the future of the whole of the Belper Mills site’ authored by DCA Consultants and Purcell, completed in 2017.

The Belper North Mill Trust hopes that this document will be a useful contribution to public debate and discussion about this most important site.

Copies of the Outline Masterplan have been given to the: Heritage Lottery Fund; Derbyshire County Council; Amber Valley Borough Council; Belper Town Council; The National Trust; Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site; Historic England; Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust and the Neighbourhood Plan for Belper Working Group.

The Trust will share feedback from the community with these partners, where appropriate. All responses will be anonymised.

Continuing Developments

When this project was first proposed in 2015 the Courtauld’s factory was still in operation and so the Trust’s application and master plan brief for HLF funding was limited to the North and East mills. This situation changed in June 2016 when Courtauld’s went into receivership, leaving their site vacant. The two sites, on either side of Bridge Foot, are parts of one historic whole, the Strutt mills and represent working life in Belper over three centuries. Despite the demolition of the majority of its mill buildings, the Courtauld’s site undoubtedly contains archaeological remains of the original mill buildings and of their watercourses and leats, several of which are functioning parts of the North and East mills’ infrastructure. These archaeological remains have the potential to add considerable interest to the interpretation of the Belper mills and to the history of the whole of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.

The Trust believes that there is now a unique opportunity for these two sites to be considered as a whole in the planning process and that, in order to provide the very best opportunity for a sustainable business plan for the regeneration of this part of the town, a development plan should be prepared covering both sites. The Trust believes that such a plan should respect the history of the site and its critical importance within the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site while looking to its sensitive, long term, sustainable conservation and regeneration, with the possibility of mixed use development across both sites, which would be of benefit to tourism and to the economic future of Belper and the wider area.

Rescue, Restore, Revitalise: new beginnings for the Belper North Mill

A Heritage Lottery Fund Transition Funding Project TF-14-08173