Two days ago I wandered into Cromford Mills.
Cromford Mill was one of Richard Arkwright’s Mills and was the world’s first successful water-powered mill. It was built in 1771 and operated until water supply dried up in 1840. By this time it was run by Arkwright’s son.
Arkwright Junior could have invested and moved to steam power, but he was very successful with other mills, real estate and banking so the Mill was sold off for other uses.
The most recent use was a colour and dyeing factory and by the time the factory closed in 1979 the building was heavily contaminated with lead chromate.
They’re spending millions to restore the building to a usable state now. Because of its history it has become one of the 17 World Heritage sites in England.
At the moment there are a few shops, a cafe and an information centre on site.
What I did find quite interesting was a map of the world in the information centre with what was happening in the world around the time when Cromford Mills was being built:
1760 – George III became King of England
1762 – Catherine the Great became Czarina, Russia.
1765 – The British East India Company given control of India
1770 – Captain Cook “discovered” Australia and New Zealand
1771 – Cromford Mill built, UK
1773 – The Boston Tea Party, USA
1776-1783 – American War of Independence
1779 – The first iron bridge built in the now aptly named Ironbridge, Shropshire, UK
1779 – Suurveld War in southern Africa between the Boars and the Khoisan and Xhosa tribes
1780 – 100,000 Africans shipped to America as part of the slave trade
1780 -Sumo wrestling becomes a public spectacle, Japan
1783 – Johann Brugelmann opened Ratingen Mill, copying Arkwright, Germany
1787 – The Committee for the Abolition of the Slave Trade set up, UK
1787 – Freed slaves set up ‘Providence of Freedom’ on the Sierra Leone river
1788 – First convict ship arrives in Botany Bay, Australia
1789 – Mutiny on the Bounty, Tahiti
1789 – The French Revolution begins
1790 – Samuel Slater (The Traitor) established the first cotton mill in America
1792 – Richard Arkwright dies, Cromford, UK
1793 – Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin for cleaning freshly picked cotton, Georgia, USA
1793 – Britain joined the Revolutionary Wars against France
1794 – France abolished slavery
This is not really connected with my trip, but I think we are most often taught history as separate events rather than in context.
And I think the context is important.