Ivanhoe Ashby de la Zouch U3A U3A Group Logo

The Industrial Heritage Group

Leader:  Mike Stow - indhist@ashbyu3a.co.uk - phone 01530 469152

The Industrial Heritage Group is for members who have an interest in our industrial heritage of trains, cars, planes, bikes, early manufacturing etc. to visit museums, railways, factories and other places related to our industrial past. We occasionally take a quite broad view of what constitutes "Industrial Heritage" if it is of interest to us!

Travel arrangements vary depending on how far we have to travel, but generally we meet in Ashby to car-share.

Our trips are normally on Wednesdays unless otherwise stated

Future programme

Sat 29th JunTBACragside House and gardens, NorthumberlandMike StowSaturday 29th June to Monday 1st July. The first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity. Fantastic house and gardens worth a whole day visit. The hotel in Newcastle is now booked for 2 nights. Spend Sunday at Cragside with time on Saturday pm and Monday am to visit Newcastle town, the riverside and Discovery museum. Hotel rooms are now booked. Anyone else wishing to join us would need to book their own rooms in Newcastle.
Wed 31st JulTBACliffe Hill quarry near MarkfieldMike HardyNOTE this is a week later than normal.A guided tour of the quarry
Wed 28th AugTBAGreat Central Railway North, RuddingtonBill Devitt
Wed 25th SepTBAWalsall Leather Museum and Bradley lock gate workshopBob Cornell
Wed 23rd OctTBASoho House, BirminghamMike StowSoho House was the home of industrialist Matthew Bolton and meeting place of the Lunar Society

Wednesday 15th May. Strutt's North Mill, Belper

This proved to be a popular trip and a good turn-out headed off in several cars to Belper on a bright sunny morning. On arrival the Mill laid on the very important coffee and biscuits whilst we watched a short film about the history of Strutt's Mill . We were then introduced to our guide for the day. We were first shown some of the various machines in use before the industrialisation of the cotton spinning process when it was still a cottage industry followed by some of the earlier machines developed by Jedediah Strutt including one which enabled ribbed knitting on an ordinary hand-operated frame. This made him relatively wealthy.

We have all heard of Arkwright and his cotton mill at Cromford which was the world's first water-powered cotton spinning mill. Arkwright was not a wealthy man, and his 'manufactory' was partly funded by Strutt and built in 1771 . Strutt then built his own mill in Belper 1776 to become the second such in the world. The original timber-framed North Mill was built in 1786 but burnt down in 1803 and was replaced by a new one designed by his son William. This was one of the first fireproof structures in the world using cast iron columns and brick floors. This is the building still standing today. Several other mills followed on the site until by the 1850s Belper had a population of 10,000 people.

Our tour continued into the basement to see the building's amazing construction and the site of the waterwheel (unfortunately now removed) which was 18 feet in diameter and 23 feet long. It was eventually one of 11 waterwheels on site and not even the largest!

We now assembled outside for a tour of Strutt's Belper, the streets of cottages which he built to attract workers to the area. We first walked around the attractive River Gardens which were provided for the workforce on their day off.

The mill mostly employed girls so he had to attract families with lots of them but also needed to find work for the men. Belper was traditionally a nail-making town therefore many men joined that trade but also framework knitting was common. (The mill incidentally didn't knit or weave cotton, it only produced spun yarn).

The cottages were better than average to attract incomers and are still standing today, occupying several, still-cobbled, streets. Strutt also built a school and a Unitarian chapel for the workforce. When the North Midland Railway came through Belper it would have cut the village in two, but Strutt insisted that the railway was built in an expensive cutting with 11 bridges over it so that the roads remain level and the trains out of site. It is regarded as one of George Stevenson's great achievements.

The whole area is fascinating and wandering the streets is like stepping back in time. Belper along with the whole of Derwent Valley is a Unesco World Heritage Site.

We retired to a nearby hostellery for an excellent and welcome lunch, very efficiently served by the landlord and his staff before travelling home.

Previous trips