Building 17 at Cromford Mill – left empty for 35 years – will be brought back to life by Arkwright Society
ONE of Cromford's historic mills – which has stood empty for 35 years – is to be brought back into use.
The five-storey mill, known as Building 17, will feature a visitor "gateway" centre on the ground floor, for tourists coming to the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.
The upper four floors will consist of office space, which will be rented out to businesses.
Bosses at the Arkwright Society – a charity devoted to rescuing of industrial heritage buildings at Cromford – confirmed yesterday it had secured enough funds to begin the £4.5 million project.
David Trevis-Smith, project manager, said: "The society has a long-term development plan for the Cromford Mills site and the Building 17 project is a key stage.
"It will provide an economic stimulus to the region – through support for new and expanding small businesses – and an increase in tourism spend, both for the local economy and for places along, and in the vicinity of, the 15 miles of the designated World Heritage Site.
"It will also generate a new regular income to support the long-term stability of the society and of Cromford Mills."
Building 17, built by Sir Richard Arkwright, is the largest on the site and was originally a cotton warehouse, before later being used as a paint factory by the Cromford Colour Works.
Considered "at risk" by English Heritage, it has been used only for storing materials during the past 35 years.
Trustees gave the new project the go-ahead after securing £4.2 million from various funding streams.
Contributors included the Heritage Lottery Fund, the European Regional Development Fund, J P Getty Jnr Charity Trust, the Pilgrim Trust, the Wolfson Foundation, the Architectural Heritage Fund and Derbyshire County Council.
Donations from the public have also helped.
The Arkwright Society's executive fund-raising team is hoping to secure the remaining £350,000 it needs to complete the scheme over the next nine months.
Providing the additional cash is secured, the revamped mill will open by July next year. It will consist of a total lettable space of 744 square metres – including room for about 30 workspaces on the fourth floor, as part of an open-plan format.
Floors one to three will include floor-to-ceiling dividers which can be moved, according to how much space is required by a tenant.
The Cromford Mills complex already has a mix of businesses, retail outlets, café restaurants, conferencing and meeting room facilities.
Due to its historical significance and designation as a World Heritage Site, the complex already attracts more than 100,000 visitors a year.
Mr Trevis-Smith said the figure was expected to reach 150,000 once the project was completed.