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Site record MDR10438 - Boar's Head Cotton Manufactory, Darley Abbey, Derby

Type and Period (5)

  • (Georgian to Late 20th Century - 1782 AD to 1968 AD?)
  • (Georgian to Early 20th Century - 1782 AD to 1923 AD)
  • (Georgian to 21st Century - 1792 AD? to 2050 AD)
  • (Tudor to Georgian - 1540 AD to 1779 AD?)
  • (Tudor to Georgian - 1540 AD to 1800 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

Recorded in 1960 as the cotton mills of Walter Evans & Co, still in use. (1) At one time Darley Mills, on the River Derwent, included a corn mill, a paper mill, a fulling mill, a hemp mill and a leather mill ('Post Boy', September 1713). An advertisement in the Derby Mercury of 2nd February 1761 offers the corn mill to let 'with two pairs of French and one pair Grey stones and two Bolting mills'. This predates the Evans's cotton mill of 1783 and the corn mill was possibly removed by the turn of the 18th century, although Sun Fire Policies for 1792 show it was still operating at that time. (2) The Boar's Head Cotton Manufactory was developed by the Evans family from 1782. There has been a considerable survival of buildings, particularly of the period 1780s to 1840, with few other textile sites displaying the same range and completeness of structures from so early a period. A significant number of the buildings retain evidence for the evolution of fireproof construction techniques and iron roof technology. One retains what is believed to be the sole surviving instance of the 'proto-fireproof' system developed by the Strutts in the 1790s, based on brick jack-arches and plastered timber beams. Others incorporate important early iron roofs, including one (in East Mill) of a form not encountered elsewhere. A building known as the dyeing shop is detached to the north of the main complex of mill buildings and probably dates from c. 1820. A series of additional manufacturing, ancillary and domestic buildings, ranging in date from the late 18th to the late 19th century, extend to the north, east and south-east of the main mill buildings. They include a probable manager's house or similar, a bobbin shop, stables, a gassing shed, drying shop, polishing shop, engine house and chimney. (3) [see SMRs 32261-32273 and 32289-32296 for records of individual buildings within the complex] At the Boar's Head Mill complex, established by the Evans brothers at Darley Abbey, a further important development occurred with the construction, between 1818 and 1821, of the fireproof, four storeyed West Mill. Here the roof trusses have cast-iron tie-beams, principal rafters and fish-bellied purlins, all of inverted-T section, two pairs of angled cast-iron struts of cruciform section, and wrought iron tension rods, including under-slung tensioning to the tie-beams. With the exception of the latter, the whole of the roof structure is concealed from the top storey by a ceiling of sheet metal. (4) Boar's Head Cotton Mill complex and associated housing, Darley Abbey. By the mid 1770s, Thomas Evans had acquired paper, corn, flint and other mills operating on the west bank of the River Derwent at Darley Abbey. He was reputedly encouraged by Richard Arkwright - one of the customers of his Derby bank - to embark on cotton manufacture and in 1782 he built a stone bridge across the river and constructed a weir to divert water to power the mills. The mill-building programme was begun in 1782 by the construction of Long Mill. In order to attract an adequate labour force to this new enterprise, Evans created a new village complete with school and other amenities. The whole complex is contained in a very small area. There was no cohesive plan for the houses - they were simply built in random groups at various dates. (5) Mill Yard wall and outer gate piers at Haslam's Lane. Length of coarse gritstone wall of large ashlar blocks with flat stone coping. Gatepier to north side has hinge pins for large gate. Important surviving evidence for the secure mill yard. Bridge and sluice gates over former mill leat, mill yard. Parapet gritstone walls to former bridge over mill leat define the road through the mill yard. Large squared blocks of ashlar and shaped stone coping. The parapet to the north side incorporates the remains of sluice gates and winding mechanism. Important surviving evidence of the earlier phases of water courses through the site. (6)

Sources/Archives (10)

  • --- Unpublished document: Hurford, M. 2019. Long Mill, Darley Abbey Mills, Old Lane, Darley Abbey, Derby: Historic Building Recording and Archaeological Watching Brief.
  • <1> Index: Council for British Archaeology (CBA). CBA Industrial Archaeology Report Card.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: Gifford, A. 1999. Derbyshire Watermills: Corn Mills.. B16, p 67.
  • <3> Unpublished document: Menuge, A (English Heritage). 2000. Boar's Head Mills, Darley Abbey, Derby, English Heritage Briefing Notes. HER Doc. No. 727.
  • <4> Article in serial: Menuge, A (RCHME). 1993. 'The cotton mills of the Derbyshire Derwent and its tributaries', Industrial Archaeology Reivew.
  • <5> Bibliographic reference: Fowkes, D (ed.). 2003. Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology. A Gazetteer of Sites. Part VII. City of Derby.. pp 53-56.
  • <6> Unpublished document: Morris, M (Mel Morris Conservation). 2004. Study to Identify Candidate Buildings for Grant Assistance and a Review of Conservation Area Boundaries, Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. Gazetteer: 14-025, 14-026.
  • <7> Unpublished document: Smith, S & Pacey, A (RCHME). 1968. Boars Head Mills, Darley Abbey, Derby: Survey No. 33. HER Doc. No. 1856.
  • <8> Unpublished document: Falconer, K (RCHME). 1988. Derby: Darley Abbey, Boars Head Mills - Supplimentary Note to NMR File 33050. HER Doc. No. 1857.
  • <9> Monograph: Menuge, A (English Heritage). 2006. Boar's Head Mills, Darley Abbey, Derby: A Survey and Investigation of the Cotton Mills and Ancillary Buildings Historic Buildings Report. English Heritage Report Series no. 35/2006. HER Doc. No. 878.



Grid reference Centred SK 35410 38609 (143m by 189m)
World Heritage Site Derwent Valley Mills

Related Monuments/Buildings (21)

Related Events/Activities (7)

  • EDR4371
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  • EDR3631
  • EDR3895
  • EDR3976
  • EDR2336
  • EDR4383

Please contact the HER for details.

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Record last edited

Jun 10 2024 11:03AM

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