Cromford is a village within the steep sided Derwent Valley, about 19 miles north of Derby and 3 miles south of Matlock. Once at the heart of the industrial revolution and most famous for its links with Sir Richard Arkwright, who established a water powered cotton spinning mill here in 1771, this is now a small rural community of around 1,800 inhabitants, mainly dependent on tourism and the local quarry for much of its economic wellbeing.
A lot of visitors come here to experience the history of the area, one part of which is the Cromford Canal. Running 14.2 miles, from Cromford to the Erewash Canal at Langley Mill, the Cromford Canal was designed by William Jessop and opened in 1794. The main incoming commodity was coal, needed to feed the growing industrialisation of the area, while the outgoing cargoes were limestone for the iron industry, lead from Wirksworth and cotton from the mills. The final cost of the canal was £43,697 (which, in today's money, is equivalent to roughly £3,910,000!), but, once opened, the enterprise proved a financial success.
The buildings pictured are the Wharf warehouses at the Cromford terminus of the canal, opposite Richard Arkwright's Cromford mill. Constructed in 1824 as a storehouse for goods awaiting transportation by boat, the left of the two now houses a wildlife shop and a cafe, which served a very pleasant mug of fairtrade coffee and a rather tasty parsnip, swede and carrot soup. The other is leased by the Arkwright Society and contains two classrooms for educational visits.
While we were there, we also witnessed the canal being used for canoeing, with boats full of excited children disturbing the peace of the ducks! It looked very good fun!