Building 17, Cromford Mill, Derbyshire

Cromford and its mills have international significance as the Derwent Valley Mills with Cromford at its heart are designated as a World Heritage Site. The mill buildings at Cromford are also Grade I listed buildings.

Cromford and its mills have international significance as the Derwent Valley Mills with Cromford at its heart are designated as a World Heritage Site. The mill buildings at Cromford are also Grade I listed buildings.

The site was developed by the Arkwright family for cotton spinning in 1771 and continued in this use until the mid-nineteenth century. From the early 1920s until the 1970s the site was occupied by a paint processing and dye works. When this use ceased the site became vacant and was rescued in the early 1979 when it was bought by a local charity, The Arkwright Society. Since then more than £7m has been spent restoring the buildings and bringing the site back to life. This work continues and Bonsers Restoration is now involved with Building 17 which was used by the Cromford Colour Works from 1922 until 1979 producing colour pigments and paints.

Building 17 is grade I listed building and was built in 1785 and appears to have been originally used for both cotton spinning and warehousing. It is constructed of square coursed gritstone five storeys high with a Westmorland slate roof. It has been vacant for 30 years.

Bonsers were originally commissioned in 2011 to investigate the contamination within the building, analyse and research a viable solution that would enable re-occupation. This process was carried out in conjunction with Hutton and Rostron and the University of Lincoln. The findings of this research formed the basis for an encapsulation methodology as opposed to a decontamination system. The new use for Building 17 is as “A World Heritage Site Gateway” and this is being funded by The Arkwright Society, Heritage Lottery and ERDF funding. The programme of encapsulation started in January 2013 as the first phase of the works and these were completed in June 2014.

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Project Building 17, Cromford Mill, Derbyshire

Location Building 17, Cromford Mill, Derbyshire, DE4 3RQ

Value £1.2 million

Duration October 2011 – June 2014


We have restored the former Mill Managers House at Darley Abbey Mills as wedding guest accommodation. We have been delighted with the workmanship, site management and level of dedication shown to complete the project. The internal restoration works have included new lath & plaster ceiling, three coat lime plaster and repair of lime ash floors. Externally the works have included repointing, repair and structural repairs. We will be looking to use Bonsers again on our future projects.

Andrew Rose, Darley Abbey Mills

We have worked successfully together on many high-profile heritage conservation projects including; the restoration of the Grade I listed Mill Building at Cromford World Heritage Site for the Arkwright Society; the restoration of the Bestwood Winding House, A Grade II listed building and scheduled ancient monument for Nottinghamshire County Council; and the restoration of the Grade II listed Buxton pavilion for High Peak Borough Council. Bonsers specialise in a vast array of heritage skills, ranging from stone repairs, lime plaster, ornate plaster repairs and brickwork, joinery and ironmongery restoration.

Les Needham, G F Tomlinson Group Limited

G F Tomlinson have used the specialist services of Bonsers extensively over many years, and regard them as our key heritage conservation and restoration supply chain partner. Their in-depth knowledge and skills on heritage building practices and sensitive approach to the protection of historic building fabric, are second to none.

On all of these schemes, they have delivered a first-class service and a very high standard of workmanship, and we therefore have no hesitation in recommending Bonsers to any prospective client.

Les Needham, G F Tomlinson Group Limited

The second and more challenging project Bonsers worked with us on was the Building 17 project. This was a very problematic project with cutting edge solutions required to the contamination issues within the building. The work was very difficult and the working conditions extremely unpleasant. The Bonsers team acted extremely professionally at all times, the communication between contractor and client was exemplary, they worked to a tight timescale and budget. Additionally their follow up services have been second to none, coming to site to sort out any maintenance issues and also providing support to us in our work engaging with our community about the project.
I would fully recommend their services to others.

Sarah McLeod, CEO, Cromford Mills

The canal side restaurant project was relatively small and straight forward though the timescale was extremely short – opening up the upper floor for extra trading space, introducing a dumb waiter and toilets into the building. However, the Bonsers' team treated the project very seriously, taking great care to liaise with me as the client,   working very considerately alongside my own staff and engaging positively with  the passing public when required to do so. Equally, they completed the job on time and within budget.

Sarah McLeod, CEO, Cromford Mills

As part of the restoration project funded by English Heritage, Bonsers were employed as the main contractor on this project, initially based upon very good references and viewing previous projects. Throughout the whole project working with Bonsers was professional, helpful and with a real emphasis on caring about what was being restored – not just another builder on a building. We would certainly use Bonsers again for any other restoration work at Barlborough Hall.

Malc Lucas, Facilities Manager, Mount St Mary’s College & Barlborough Hall School

Bonsers impressed with their deep technical knowledge, experience and empathy of historic buildings. Their quality, workmanship and professional attitude was impressive throughout.

Michael Shaw BEng CEng MRAeS Bursar, Coventry School Foundation