From The Neolithic To The Sea: A Journey From The Past To The Present
Lumsdale Mills
53° 8′ 33.11″ N 1° 31′ 57.36″ W

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  • History
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Lumsdale Mills is located in Lumsdale Valley at Matlock, Derbyshire. It is a wooded gorge filled with ruins of old waterpowered mills in the protection of the Arkwright Society. The ruins in the valley blend with nature to create an area of tranquil charm and a haven for wildlife.

At least seven ruinous mills remain in the valley, all were powered by water from Bentley Brook which runs through the valley. The site was chosen for industrial use as early as the 1600's but it wasn't until the 1800's that the valley bloomed, the use of water as a free power source was very attractive. It was Arkwright who indirectly caused the expansion of the valley as investors and entrepreneurs sought to follow his success in the Cromford valley. Various mills were built, rebuilt and adapted to the demands of the day. Some of the uses included cotton spinning, corn grinding, bleaching, bone grinding and even lead working. This continued in one form or another until the 1930's.

As the buildings fell out of use and became derelict, nature started the process of reclaiming the valley. If it wasn't for one forward thinking woman in 1939 who bought the valley, nothing would remain today. Stone mining of the mills would have taken its toll. Marjorie Mills refused to demolish the remaining mills, protecting them for nature. In the late 1970's Marjorie could no longer look after the valley and its mills, which by now were in a serious state of decay and dereliction, the dams needed major work and walls becoming unstable.

A way was found to protect the valley and its mills, in 1979 the Arkwright Society was formed and leased much of Marjorie Mills land, promising to protect and repair the dams and preserve the buildings on the understanding that they would inherit the land when she died.

The aims of the society are simple, preserving the mills as though frozen in time rather than restoring so the general public can enjoy the state of decay caused by nature as well as enjoying the ponds and waterfalls in a safe environment.