Belper Heritage Walk 1
This short World Heritage Site walks looks at some of the most significant buildings near to the Strutt mills.
This short World Heritage Site walks looks at some of the most significant buildings near to the Strutt mills. The starting point in the leaflet is the Derwent Valley Visitor Centre reception, inside Strutt’s North Mill. From the railway station the walk can easily be joined by taking the elevated path from platform 1, that goes alongside the railway and crosses Field Lane to enter ‘The Clusters’.
During your walk you will see the interpretation board on the railway bridge in Long Row, which will tell you more about this industrial community, and show you how it has changed in the past two centuries.
Jedediah Strutt built water-powered cotton spinning mills in Belper from 1776. The North Mill of 1781 was re-built in 1804 after fire destroyed the original mill. William Strutt designed this, using innovatory construction methods, as a fireproof building; it was an important development in the building of multi storey structures. This mill is one of the most significant elements of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.
The Horseshoe Weir and sluice gates were built in 1797 to replace an earlier weir and gain better control of the River Derwent to power the mills. It is one of the finest in the UK. Take the path by the weir, which runs alongside the river to The River Gardens. This is where willow was grown to make baskets for transportation of good at the mills. George Herbert Strutt agreed to a landing stage being built here. This idea developed into the River Gardens. Band concerts are held here and boats may be taken out on the river.
Across from the Matlock Road entrance to the River Gardens is “The Old Nick” Belper’s former police station, built in 1847. For two years it served as the headquarters of the Derbyshire Constabulary when it was first formed in 1857. Three police houses were built alongside in 1877. Cross at the lights towards these houses and turn right.
On the right, across the road from Long Row is Christ Church and vicarage, built in 1850. Turn left up Long Row. The first Long Row schoolroom was built about 1818; it was later rebuilt and enlarged. Some houses were demolished to accommodate the larger school building.
Long Row is a second phase of millworkers’ housing built about 1790 by the Strutt family. The rows of houses on the left and at the bottom right have a continuous roofline with an extra storey; built of gritstone and interlock around the staircase. The brick houses on the right ascend in stepped pairs. All these houses have ample gardens.
On the right by the railway bridge is a walled area, known as the dirt hole. Here people emptied their ashes to be collected by the ash cart. The North Midland Railway came through Belper between 1838 and 1840 as part of the Derby to Leeds line. There are 11 bridges in the one-mile that it runs through Belper. Four or five houses in each row had to be demolished for the cutting to go through.
Turn right into Green Lane. On your left there are four short rows of cottages, these were the first phase of Strutt housing, about 1780. Mill Street has since been extended and the houses on the right lost their gardens.
You are now entering The Clusters. Cluster buildings are blocks of four houses, semi-detached and back-to-back, each with a pigsty. The cluster rows were the third phase of workers’ housing, built about 1818-1820 and named in 1896 after Jedediah’s three sons. Turn right into William Street, then at the first lamp post on the left, turn left and pass through the channel or alley into George Street. The more modern George Street houses were built from 1840 onwards and there has been some infilling since then. Cross the road and through another channel into Joseph Street. The house on the right is a fine example of a cluster house.
Turn up Joseph Street and on the left is a Nail Shop, built in the early 19th Century. Most of the millworkers were women and children. Various workshops were built within the housing complex to provide employment for men.
At the top of Joseph Street, cross the road into Field Row. On the left is the Unitarian Chapel, built in 1788 and extended on both sides early in the 19th Century. The chapel is three times its original size. It is a good example of nonconformist architecture. There is a fine external, cantilevered staircase, which gives the only access to the upper gallery. Several members of the Strutt family remains are contained in a catacomb below the Chapel.
Back to Green Lane, walk back down Joseph Street. At the bottom, walk through the small entry in front of you, and continue down Crown Terrace until you are on Bridge Street. Turn right, towards the mills. The George and Dragon on the opposite side of the road was a coaching inn and served as an early post office. The old Savings Bank is opposite the George and Dragon. William Strutt was a founder of the Savings Bank, in 1818. It moved to these premises in 1851, later becoming a branch of the TSB. The ornate stonework front was added in 1910.
Cross at the lights and follow the signs for the Derwent Valley Visitor Centre. Strutt mills became part of the English Sewing Cotton Co. in 1897. The big East Mill was built in 1912. In the mill yard the engine house and the remaining stump of the mill chimney can be seen, built in 1854 when the mills began using steam power. The stone arch over the road is the Gangway, built in 1795 to connect the now demolished West Mill to the North Mill. In 1810 holes were made where muskets could be fired at any troublemakers. Return to the Derwent Valley Visitor Centre in Strutt’s North Mill.
More Walks & Rides
Perri’s family tour from Duffield Station offers two short walks exploring history and nature.View
Perri’s family tour of Belper leads offers two short walking routes to either the River Gardens or Belper Parks.View
Perri’s family tour from Ambergate leads along the Cromford Canal to Whatstandwell.View
Perri’s family tour from Whatstandwell leads along the Cromford Canal through Gregory’s Tunnel to High Peak Junction.View
Perri’s family tour of Cromford includes climbing the steep steps to Scarthin Rock or the Cromford Canal to High Peak Junction.View
Perri’s family tour of Matlock Bath leads through Lovers’ Walks to Derwent Gardens.View
Perri’s family tour of Matlock follows the level riverside paths through Hall Leys Park and along the Pic Tor Promenade.View
Walk number 1, is a 4 mile walk between Duffield and Belper over the Chevin and following the ancient Portway along the ridge of the Derwent Valley.View
Walk number 2, is a 6 mile walk between Belper and Duffield through open country with superb views linking together the historic settlements of Bargate and Holbrook.View
Walk number 3, is an 8 mile walk between Belper and Ambergate along the valley ridge, with two steady climbs through farmland and ancient woodland.View
Walk number 4, is a 4.5 mile walk between Ambergate and Belper through farmland with a short climb providing excellent views of Heage Windmill from the valley ridge.View
Walk number 5, is a 4.5 mile walk between Ambergate and Whatstandwell through ancient woodland, old parkland and open farmland, with excellent views. There are no really steep climbsView
Walk number 6, is a steep 3.5 mile walk between Whatstandwell and Ambergate via Crich through farmland, Crich Chase woodlands and along the towpath of the Cromford CanalView
Walk number 7, is a 4 mile walk between Whatstandwell and Cromford with a steep path section in Whatstandwell, through undulating farmland and along a surfaced track.View
Walk number 8, is a 4 mile walk between Cromford and Whatstandwell combining the Cromford Canal towpath with steep climbs through woodland. The views of the Derwent Valley are spectacular.View
Walk number 9, is an easy 2.25 mile walk between Cromford and Matlock Bath taking in the historic village of Cromford and a lovely woodland path.View
Walk number 10, is a 3 mile hilltop walk between Matlock Bath and Cromford via Riber Castle, providing magnificent views. There is a steep climb and the walk goes through woodlands, fields and along an ancient trackway.View
Walk number 11 is a 3 mile walk through woods and fields with fine views between Matlock Bath and Matlock.View
Walk number 12, is a 2 mile walk between Matlock and Matlock Bath alongside the River Derwent and with a climb to High Tor with its spectacular views.View