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Listed Building record MDR3091 - Arkwright Water System including Long Sough Entrance and tail, Cromford

Type and Period (2)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

Cromford Sough Tail: sough tail arch and waterworks associated with Richard Arkwright's first factory. This was the first major Derbyshire sough; it later supplied the water power for Arkwright's Mill. (4) The availability of water power was the main reason for Arkwright developing in Cromford. The system made use of Long Sough (SK 294568), Greyhound Pond Sluice (SK 295569) Culverts and embankments (SK 296569), the Early Outfall (SK 299571) and the Later Outfall (SK 302569). (1) SK 294568. Long Sough. The Cromford Sough was probably the first major sough undertaken in Derbyshire. It was commenced in 1673 and the first section was completed by 1682. The tail of the sough lies at the bottom of a small walled enclosure. Now Scheduled; number 261. (2) Scheduling Notification The monument includes the entrance to Long Sough and comprises a 10m wide D-shaped walled enclosure which drops c.2m below ground level on the inside. Across the inside of the enclosure is a weir with a sluice whose baffle and screw are still extant. Access to the sluice was via a short flight of steps leading down to the weir on the north side. The entrance onto the weir is now blocked by a metal grille. The sough entrance is at the bottom of the enclosure on the south west side. On the north side, set c.1m above the sough, are one blocked and one functioning outfall which may relate to Scarthin millpond 100m to the north west. Water drains away from the sough through two grille-covered culverts on the north east side of the enclosure and, from here, formed part of the original water supply used in the 18th century to power Arkwright's Mill. Long Sough is an extension of Cromford Sough which was started in 1673 and is believed to have been the first major sough undertaken in Derbyshire. The first section was finished by 1682 and numerous extensions were constructed during the next century. The volume of water from the sough to Arkwright's Mill was reduced by the completion of Meerbrook Sough in c.1836. (3) Richard Arkwright and his partners leased a small site in Cromford close to an existing corn mill in August 1771. It was served by the Bonsall Brook and by the water from the Cromford Sough, a lead mine drainage channel, neither of which produced a large volume of water but which had the advantage of offering a constant supply with minimal seasonal variation. Much of the investment in the Cromford Mill complex was associated with the engineering structures which delivered and carried away the water which provided the motive power for the mill machinery. The aqueduct over Mill Road carried water from the Cromford Sough to power the first mill. The aqueduct built in 1821 with a cast iron trough resting on stone piers replaced an earlier structure which is known to have had a timber launder. There is archaeological evidence to suggest the existence of a structure running at a lower level than either the cast iron or the previous timber structure. The basin weir built c. 1777 in the middle of the mill yard, the wheel pits of the first mill extension built c. 1786 and the second mill built c. 177, the culvert which took water to the Cromford Canal built c. 1820, and in particular the massive culvert built 1777 which runs from the second mill into Cromford Meadows and on to the River Derwent though for the most part unseen, are all features of outstanding historical importance. (6) The principal supply of water for the cotton mills was from Cromford Sough. The first mill was powered exclusively from that source until from the mid 1780s it was extended and a second wheel added. This wheel derived its water from the Bonsall Brook via an underground culvert controlled by a sluice in the corner of the Greyhound Pond (adjacent to the present day Boat Inn). It is not easy to date the construction of the Greyhound Pond. It may have been one of the ponds referred to by William Bray in 1783, but he may have had in mind the ponds created on the Bonsall Brook for the corn mill which had been erected in 1780. Certainly, the Greyhound Pond must have been in existence by 1785, when Richard Arkwright incurred the wrath of the lead miners by damming the Cromford Sough at the 'Bear Pit' so that he could force the sough water into the Greyhound Pond. The culvert Arkwright built for this purpose can be seen from Water Lane to the rear of the Greyhound coach-house and stable-block. (6) The 'Bear Pit', as it is known among Cromford residents, was constructed in 1785 by Richard Arkwright. It consists of a more or less oval stone-lined pit sunk into the course of Cromford Sough, a lead mine drainage channel, across which a dam and sluice have been erected. The dam forced the sough water back into a new underground channel which connected the sough to the Greyhound Pond. By this means Richard Arkwright was able to supplement the water stored in the pond with sough water. He used the device each weekend while the mills were not at work so that the Greyhound Pond was adequately supplied when work began again on the Monday morning. (6) A walled enclosure with the present entrance to Cromford Sough. A long section of this major sough is still accessible, the first part arched, with shafts to surface and including a side branch that has evidence of very early gunpowder work. (7) Complex sluice arrangement constructed to regulate the flow of water from Cromford Sough towards Arkwright's mill. The sough was constructed between 1673 and 1682 to drain lead mines, but was largely suspended when the Meerbrook Sough was driven at a lower level in the early 19th century. (8)

Sources/Archives (8)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: 1975. Council of British Archaeology Panel on Industrial Monuments. p11.
  • <2> Bibliographic reference: DOE(IAM) AM Record Form May '77.
  • <3> Scheduling record: English Heritage. 1996. Scheduling Notification. 27221. Cat. No.: 261.
  • <4> Index: Council for British Archaeology (CBA). CBA Industrial Archaeology Report Card. Cromford Sough Tail.
  • <5> Unpublished document: County Treasure Recording Form. 11.16 & 13.26 & photo..
  • <6> Unpublished document: Derwent Valley Mills (DVM) Nomination Steering Panel. 2000. Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage List Nomination Document.
  • <7> Bibliographic reference: Barnatt, J. 2004. An Inventory of Regionally & Nationally Important Lead Mining Sites in the Peak District. Vol. 2: Corpus of Sites. p 188, site no. B32.
  • <8> Bibliographic reference: Fowkes, D (ed.). 1997. Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology. A Gazetteer of Sites. Part IV. Derbyshire Dales. p. 18.



Grid reference Centred SK 29 56 (743m by 291m) (5 map features)
World Heritage Site Derwent Valley Mills

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (2)

  • EDR1788
  • EDR3865

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Record last edited

Nov 7 2023 3:21PM

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