Mr Strutt’s Mill – Milford

Jedediah Strutt built a water powered cotton mill in Milford.  Sadly, very little of it remains though I guess the people who worked in it might not have felt that way.  The work was hard, the hours were long and workers had to abide by strict rules.   It’s hard to believe that children as young as Beanie and J worked in the Mills.  We must look at the working conditions more closely in another post, to see what some of our ancestors might have endured.

So, what did Milford Mill look like?  Below is a watercolour painting by Zachariah Boreman – it’s entitled Mr Strutt’s Cotton Mill at Milford 1787.

Mr Strutt's Cotton Mill at Milford 1787 (Derbyshire Museum)

It’s in the Derby Museum and Art Gallery  I braved the pouring rain yesterday to see their new exhibition and asked about the painting.  A very helpful fellow suggested I ring to ask if I could make an appointment to view it! Can’t wait!

Below is a photograph of the Mill, taken by John Piper no less!

Milford Mill John Piper

It’s in the Tate, but you could visit the Milford and Makeney site to find out how two eagle-eyed local chaps identified this photograph for the Tate.  The link at the bottom of that page will take you to the Tate where you can not only view the photographs Piper took of Derbyshire, but of many other parts of the country too.  (Don’t forget to come back though!)

I’d never heard of Zachariah Boreman until I saw the painting on a Milford Interpretation Board   There are other pictures and interesting facts on there too.  I looked him up and found some lovely little paintings on the Derbyshire Archaeological Society website.  He worked for Crown Derby and his paintings are also to be found on porcelain.

Practically all that is left of the Mill now is a warehouse building and rows of Mill Worker cottages.


The River Derwent cuts right through Milford. There are two horseshoe weirs, one at Hopping Mill Meadow seen here in the video.

From here, the river flows on to the next weir where the Mill stood.

Weir 2

I wandered around the village some time ago, looking for inspiration for our next little ‘make’ and the photographs I took provided it.

river 4

river 3

river 2

These are next to the weir at Hopping Mill Meadow.

This River turned the huge waterwheels that powered the Mills that were built alongside it, but there are no waterwheels left at any of the Mills.

I like the circular motif, and of course yarn and weaving provide a further link to the Mill.  I also like the idea that there are many interconnected threads that draw us all together.  The Derbyshire Mill owners sourced cotton from many countries around the world.  Think of all of those people who lived and worked in harsh conditions, growing, picking and packing cotton that was shipped here to Mills, where the Mill workers carried out the various tasks from bale breaking to dispatching the finished cloth.

So, water wheel inspired weaving it is!

You will need some left over yarn and sticks to weave on.  Anything below will do – twigs, used lolly sticks, tea/coffee stirrers, chopsticks or meat skewers; wooden sticks that come with pot plants; even the plastic tubes that come in shoe boxes.   Nothing sharp, and if it is, little people, like Beanie and J will have to get an adult to cut, shape and smooth things off as necessary.


Before you go off searching for materials – If you happen to find yourself in Milford, Milford Tunnel is well worth a look – the photograph doesn’t do it justice.  It was built in 1840 and engineered by George and Robert Stephenson.  Imagine a steam train powering out of that tunnel!

Milford Tunnel



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