A museum that tells the story of a significant part of Derbyshire’s industrial history looks set to close its doors in September 2022 after Amber Valley Borough Council halted a long-standing funding arrangement. Campaigners are now seeking support for a petition to restore funding and keep it open.
Belper North Mill Museum, part of the Derwent Valley Mills Unesco World Heritage site, shows how cotton spinner Jedediah Strutt introduced mechanised cotton spinning to the Derwent Valley, transforming Belper into a cotton mill town at the turn of the nineteenth century. Although the original mill, built in 1786, was destroyed by fire in 1803, its replacement, built in 1804 on the foundations of the old mill is one of the oldest surviving examples of an iron-framed ‘fire-proof’ building in the world.
Amber Valley Borough Council had provided funding of £47,600 a year, but the arrangement ended last month, and the museum’s landlord now plans to let the museum space at commercial rates from October 2022. The trust which runs the museum said that it was ‘not able to run the museum on a financially viable basis’. It said that in continuing to operate it ‘would be incurring annual losses of circa £70,000, which is clearly not sustainable’.
Amber Valley councillor Ben Bellamy has started a petition, which at the time of writing had already gained more than 1,000 signatures. Sign the petition here.