Lumford Mill Bakewell

In 1777, a man renowned about these ‘ere parts, Richard Arkwright, leased a stretch of land next to the River Wye to a chap called Philip Gell of Hopton. He built Lumford Mill, which was a historic cotton mill in Bakewell at the time, but it caused much trouble and strife. It has a very chequered past, and it’s a story with a very dramatic ending.

Richard installed his son as manager of the mill but there were problems with the water rights from the offset. Upstream from the mill the rights were owned by the current Duke of Devonshire, downstream from the mill the water rights were owned by the current Duke of Rutland. Both of these men were hostile to industrial development in the area, as would later be the case with a railway. Arkwright never sought to gain permission and he constructed dams and ponds, extracted sand, gravel and soil from land, which belonged to the Duke of Rutland. He altered the course of the River and thus interfered with the Duke of Devonshire’s fishing. As you can imagine, this wasn’t taken lightly, and resulted in court cases in which Arkwright admitted trespass and paid compensation and a rent of £10 a year. Once this had all died down, the mill actually prospered. It was one of the few that Arkwright’s son retained when he sold most of his cotton ventures and moved into banking.

It continued to use waterpower with two high breast-shot wheels, which had been installed in 1827 and 1852, replacing the original undershot wheel and after almost 100 years of almost continually working, it was then that a segment of the older wheel broke and jammed the wheels which were replaced by water turbines. It was hard to recruit locally so girls were brought in especially from Manchester and at its peak, it employed 350 people. It was sold in 1816 to the Duke of Devonshire but sadly burned down in and around 1890. It was then rebuilt and taken over by a company who manufactured electric storage batteries.

Lumford Mill still stands today, under the name of the Riverside Business Park Ltd. It continues its industrial lineage and is one of the largest industrial estates within the Peak District National Park. Its home to around 14 local businesses, some of which still work out at the old mill buildings and a number of the original mill workers cottages are also inhabited by the site.