Cromford is a village, two miles to the south of Matlock in the Derbyshire Dales district in Derbyshire, England. It is principally known for its historical connection with Richard Arkwright, and the Cromford Mill which he built here in 1771. Cromford is in the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage site.
The River Derwent, with its sources on Bleaklow in the Dark Peak flows southward to Derby and then to the River Trent. The geology of this section in the Derbyshire Dales is that of limestone, and the river has cut itself a deep valley and is fast flowing. The valley floor hosts the A6 trunk road, which was the main road between London and Manchester in former times, and also the Cromford Canal and the Derwent Valley Line linking Derby and Matlock. The Via Gellia dry valley joins the Derwent at Cromford.
The village of Cromford lies to the south of the A6 and the river on land rising from 80m to 150m above mean sea level. It is 27 km north of Derby, 3 km south of Matlock and 1 km south of Matlock Bath. Trains operate from Cromford Station, on the north bank of the Derwent to Derby and Nottingham.
Some cottages and farm buildings pre-date Arkwright's time, but a large part of the village was built to house the mill workers. They were provided with shops, pubs, chapels and a school.
The 20th century saw the development of council and private housing. Dene Quarry, currently operated by Tarmac Ltd for the production of aggregrates and roadstone, was excavated to the south west of the village from 1942 onwards.
In December 2001 a 15-mile corridor from Masson Mill in Matlock Bath to the Silk Mill in Derby and including the mills in Cromford, Milford, Belper and Darley Abbey was declared the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.
In late 2006, Anand Tucker used certain parts of Cromford, including its historic bookshop, for his film And When Did You Last See Your Father?, based on the autobiographical memoir by poet Blake Morrison. Colin Firth plays the adult Blake, with Jim Broadbent cast as his dying father.
A quarter of the German town Ratingen is named after Cromford, as this is where industrial pioneer Johann Gottfried Brügelmann 1783 erected the first factory outside England, using Arkwright's factory as an archetype. The factory today forms part of the Rheinisches Industriemuseum.
Cromford has a population of 1,669 (in 1991). In the 2010 election Derbyshire Dales, formerly West Derbyshire, returned a Conservative, Patrick McLoughlin, with 24,378 votes which was exactly the number he polled in 2005.
Masson Mill (1783) is on the northern fringe of the village.
Willersley Castle dominates hill on the east side of the river, with commanding views of Masson Mill, the village, and the road from Derby. Commissioned by Richard Arkwright, building work began in 1790, but was delayed by a fire in 1791. Richard Arkwright died in 1792, and the building was occupied by his son Richard in 1796. The Arkwright family moved out in 1922, and the building was acquired by some Methodist businessmen, and opened to guests as a Methodist Guild hotel in 1928. During World War 2, the building was used as a maternity hospital by the Salvation Army while evacuated from their hospital in the East End of London.
The Cromford Canal – built to service the mills – is now in disuse, but has been designated an SSSI. The canal tow path can be followed from Cromford Wharf to High Peak Junction, and on to Whatstandwell and Ambergate. The Cromford and High Peak Railway, completed in 1831, ran from High Peak Junction to the Peak Forest Canal at Whaley Bridge. Its track bed now forms the High Peak Trail, a walk and cycle route which is joined by the Tissington Trail at Parsley Hay.
- Francis Hurt, Tory politician and member of parliament who represented a constituency in South Derbyshire
- George Turner (1841–1910), landscape artist, was born here.
- Alison Uttley, writer, was born nearby at Castle Top Farm in 1884.
The Greyhound Hotel built for Richard Arkwright in 1778 for the use of businessmen and others visiting the mills.
Cromford Pond built in 1785 as the pound for Cromford Mill.
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