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The Cromford Mills Creative Cluster and World Heritage Site Gateway is celebrating being named one of three finalists in the Best Major Regeneration of a Historic Building category of this year’s prestigious Historic England Angel Awards.



Cromford Mills Creative Cluster And World Heritage Site Shortlisted For Historic England Angel Award

by Amber Valley Info on Wednesday 7 November 2018

The Cromford Mills Creative Cluster and World Heritage Site Gateway is celebrating being named one of three finalists in the Best Major Regeneration of a Historic Building category of this year’s prestigious Historic England Angel Awards.

The multi-million pound restoration has been funded by National Lottery players through a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of £4 million and a European Regional Development Fund grant of £1 million. Other charitable donors towards the project include The Monument Trust, AIM Biffa Award, The Garfield Weston Foundation, J P Getty Jr Charitable Trust, Headley Trust, Sylvia Waddilove Foundation, The Wolfson Foundation, and the Architectural Heritage Fund.

Cromford Mills in the heart of Derbyshire are home to inventor Sir Richard Arkwright’s first water powered mill complex and birthplace of the modern factory system. The ground-breaking restoration of Building 17 at this UNESCO World Heritage Site has made Sir Richard’s work the focus of international interest, just as during the early Industrial Revolution.  Built as part of the mill complex in the 1700s, by the end of the 20th century the Grade 1 listed Building 17 was dilapidated and dangerous.

For The Arkwright Society, which has been restoring the complex since buying it in 1979, the building’s former existence as a dye works might have ruled against future use.  But its members’ passion for industrial heritage would eventually overcome doubts and considerable obstacles to saving a building that played an important part in history.

The vision for Building 17 was to transform it into a northern anchor site for the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Visitor Centre, and to ensure it was sustainable by creating offices for rent on the upper floors.  With high costs and problems caused by the decontamination of a large building, the project ran into numerous delays before opening in 2016 as a complex that now attracts more than 200,000 visitors a year and is self-sustaining. The site now employs more than 100 people and its offices house 45 companies.

Throughout this restoration battle, the Arkwright Society have counted on the support of 350 members and around 100 volunteers who have led talks and tours of the site.  Once considered too dilapidated and dangerous to save, Building 17 is now being used productively to enrich the local economy, as well as the lives of local people and visitors.

The regeneration of the complex is helping to inspire new generations to discover more about the significance of this period in history as visitors can meet the man himself in the CGI Arkwright Experience.  Cromford Mills has been recognised by Historic England as one of the country’s 100 irreplaceable sites, and Professor Brian Cox included it in his list of the UK’s 10 most important scientific sites to visit because of its contribution to science, economy and social history.

“The work undertaken by the project team was ground-breaking and highly successful in bringing back in to use a building which may have otherwise been deemed to have limited use in the future,” says Simon Wallwork, Chief Executive of The Arkwright Society. “To see it now fully occupied with people in the Visitor Centre and Arkwright Experience, as well as the available office space fully let, shows how worthwhile the battle to restore it has been.  The worldwide interest Sir Richard Arkwright started nearly 250 years ago in Cromford is being stirred again, as his buildings and story are brought back to life by this project.”

Andrew Lloyd Webber, who founded the Historic England Angel Awards in 2011, said: “I am thrilled to see the wide range of heritage projects included in the shortlist for the 2018 Historic England Angel Awards. This year we can truly call the Angel Awards a national celebration with England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and, for the first time, Wales hosting Heritage Angel Awards.

Everyone involved in these projects deserves to be recognised and congratulated on the vital role they play in protecting unique heritage, buildings, landscapes and craft skills for future generations. I am excited that for the first time we will be crowning an overall UK winner at the final ceremony.”

Duncan Wilson, Chief Executive of Historic England said: “The Angel Awards allow us to celebrate the people who work tirelessly to care for our irreplaceable heritage. So often they are in the background, but now we turn the spotlight on the volunteers and heritage professionals whose work ensures we can continue to enjoy England’s wonderful historic sites for generations to come.”

Vote for us!

While the five category winners will be decided by a panel of expert judges, each project is now seeking the public’s support to win a further award. All 15 shortlisted projects – three per category - are in the running for the Historic England People’s Favourite award chosen solely by the public.

Voting is now open. Cast your vote at Voting closes 18 November 2018.

Chaired by Andrew Lloyd Webber, the 2018 judging panel comprises historian Bettany Hughes, TV’s Restoration Man George Clarke, the Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, Baroness Lola Young and Historic England’s Chief Executive Duncan Wilson.

The winners will be announced and presented with their awards at a glittering ceremony at the Gillian Lynne Theatre, London on 27 November 2018.

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