Cromford is a village and civil parish, two miles to the south of Matlock in the Derbyshire Dales district in Derbyshire, England. The population at the 2011 Census was 1,433. It is principally known for its historical connection with Richard Arkwright, and the nearby Cromford Mill which he built outside of the village in 1771. Cromford is in the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage site.
The River Derwent, with its sources on Bleaklow in the Dark Peak, flows southward to Derby and then to the River Trent. The geology of this section in the Derbyshire Dales is that of limestone. The fast flowing river has cut a deep valley. The A6 trunk road, which was the main road between London and Manchester in former times; the Cromford Canal and the Derwent Valley Line, linking Derby and Matlock, were all built in the river valley. The Via Gellia dry valley joins the Derwent at Cromford.
The A6 passes to the north of the village of Cromford; its land rises from 80m to 150m above mean sea level. It is 27 km north of Derby, 3 km south of Matlock and 1 km south of Matlock Bath. Trains operate from Cromford Station, on the north bank of the Derwent to Derby and Nottingham.
It is one of the significant sites in the development of the Industrial Revolution. Here, Richard Arkwright built his cotton mill to make use of the water frame.
The Gell family, who were local Hopton landowners heavily involved in the nearby Wirksworth lead mining, had the Via Gellia built to connect Cromford and Grangemill in the late 18th century.
Some cottages and farm buildings pre-date Arkwright's time, but a large part of the village was built to house the mill workers. They were provided with shops, pubs, chapels and a school.
The 20th century saw the development of council and private housing. Dene quarry, currently operated by Tarmac Ltd for the production of aggregrates and roadstone, was excavated to the south west of the village from 1942 onwards.
In December 2001 a 15-mile corridor from Masson Mill in Matlock Bath to the Silk Mill in Derby and including the mills in Cromford, Milford, Belper and Darley Abbey was declared the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.
Cromford has a population of 1,669 (in 1991). In the 2010 election Derbyshire Dales, formerly West Derbyshire, returned a Conservative, Patrick McLoughlin, with 24,378 votes, exactly the number he polled in 2005.
The Cromford Mill (1771) buildings and accommodation for workers to staff the factories form part of the Derwent Valley Mills, which is recognised as a World Heritage Site for its importance. North Street, constructed by Arkwright is important as a very early purpose built industrial workers housing and was rescued from dereliction in the 1970s by the Ancient Monument Society who have since sold off the houses. One house in the street is now a Landmark Trust holiday cottage.
Masson Mill (1783) is on the northern fringe of the village.
Willersley Castle dominates hill on the east side of the river, with commanding views of Masson Mill, the village, and the road from Derby. Commissioned by Richard Arkwright, building work began in 1790, but was delayed by a fire in 1791. Richard Arkwright died in 1792, and the building was occupied by his son Richard in 1796. The Arkwright family moved out in 1922, and the building was acquired by some Methodist businessmen, and opened to guests as a Methodist Guild hotel in 1928. During World War II, the building was used as a maternity hospital by the Salvation Army while evacuated from their hospital in the East End of London.
St Mary's Church, Cromford built between 1792 and 1797 by Richard Arkwright.
The Cromford Canal – built to service the mills – is now in disuse, but has been designated a Site of Scientific Interest (SSSI). The canal tow path can be followed from Cromford Wharf to High Peak Junction, and on to Whatstandwell and Ambergate. The Cromford and High Peak Railway, completed in 1831, ran from High Peak Junction to the Peak Forest Canal at Whaley Bridge. Its track bed now forms the High Peak Trail, a walk and cycle route which is joined by the Tissington Trail at Parsley Hay.Francis Hurt (1803–1861), Tory politician and member of Parliament who represented a constituency in South Derbyshire
George Turner (1841–1910), landscape artist, was born here.
Alison Uttley, (1884–1976) writer, was born nearby at Castle Top Farm.