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The lovely village of Cromford lies on the edge of the Peak District, in the Derwent Valley between Matlock and Wirksworth. It is perhaps best known for its connection with the renowned industrialist Richard Arkwright, who built Cromford Mills in 1771.

Cromford is an ancient settlement, mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086 as an outlying region of Wirksworth. Initially a peaceful, small village, it boomed during the Industrial Revolution, when its geographical size, population and prosperity increased vastly. 

Many of the houses seen in the village today date from the late 18th Century and were constructed on the instruction of Richard Arkwright to house mill workers. North Street, built in 1776, was the first planned street in Derbyshire. It was restored in the 1970s by the Ancient Monument Society. Arkwright also constructed shops, pubs, chapels and a school in the village. 

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Cromford Mills

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Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Cromford Mills were built by Richard Arkwright in 1771 to make use of his water frame design. Here you can visit the world’s first successful water-powered cotton spinning mill, explore the history of Cromford Mills and discover the captivating story of how the Derwent Valley Mills changed the world in the 18th Century.

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Willersley Castle

The gracious Willersley Castle stands on the riverbank overlooking the village. Its construction was commissioned by Richard Arkwright in 1790, but sadly he died before he could begin living there.

His son, also called Richard, moved in to the beautiful building in 1796, and his family remained living there until the 1920s, at which time it was acquired by the Methodist church. It is now run as a hotel.

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Cromford Canal

The Cromford Canal was constructed in the early 1790s to provide transport for the mills. A turnpike road was built soon afterwards, in 1817, as the mills grew busier, and in the 1830s the Cromford and High Peak Railway was built, to link the canal to the Peak Forest Canal.  

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The canal is no longer in use but the towpath can be followed from Cromford to Ambergate via High Peak Junction and makes a beautiful walk. In a similar vein, the former track of the Cromford and High Peak Railway line has now been converted to the High Peak Trail, a traffic-free walking and cycling route that runs for 17 miles between Dowlow and High Peak Junction.   

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