Haarlem Mill

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Haarlem Mill
Haarlem Mill - geograph.org.uk - 2326070.jpg
Haarlem Mill is located in Derbyshire
Haarlem Mill
Location within Derbyshire
Spinning watermill
Client Richard Arkwright
Coordinates 53°04′08″N 1°34′37″W / 53.069°N 1.577°W / 53.069; -1.577Coordinates: 53°04′08″N 1°34′37″W / 53.069°N 1.577°W / 53.069; -1.577
Built 1777
Completed 1780
Employees 200 in 1789
Engine maker Francis Thompson of Ashover
Engine type Supplementary atmospheric
Flywheel diameter 18ft
Water Power
Wheels Prime mover

Haarlem Mill, on the River Ecclesbourne in Wirksworth, Derbyshire, was an early cotton mill. Built by Richard Arkwright, it was the first cotton mill in the world to use a steam engine, though this was used to supplement the supply of water to the mill's water wheel, not to drive the machinery directly.[1]

The site of the mill, including an older corn mill, was leased by Arkwright in 1777. Construction of the mill building in brick and stone was completed by June 1780, and the reported death of a young man attempting to climb on the water wheel suggests that it was operational at this date.[2] After initially investigating the purchase of a steam engine from the Birmingham firm of Boulton and Watt,[3] Arkwright installed a reciprocating steam engine, probably manufactured by Francis Thompson of Ashover, to supplement the occasionally inadequate water supply.[2] This was a medium-sized engine with a 26-foot-long (7.9 m) beam, an 18-foot-diameter (5.5 m) flywheel[2] a 30-inch-diameter (760 mm) cylinder and a stroke of 5 feet (1.5 m).[3] Similar to engines commonly used at the time to pump out nearby mines, it operated 24 hours a day, powering two pumps.[3]

By 1789 the mill was employing almost 200 people, but it was sold by Arkwright three years later.[4] The base of the original building survives, but the upper three floors have since been rebuilt.[5]


  1. ^ Fitton 1989, p. 57; Tann 1979, p. 248
  2. ^ a b c Fitton 1989, p. 57
  3. ^ a b c Tann 1979, p. 248
  4. ^ Fitton 1989, p. 58
  5. ^ "Haarlem Mill", Images of England, English Heritage 


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