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Listed Building record MDR3135 - Masson Mills, Derby Road, Matlock Bath

Type and Period (2)

  • (Georgian to Mid 20th Century - 1783 AD to 1960 AD)
  • (Georgian to Victorian - 1771 AD to 1900 AD)

Protected Status/Designation

Full Description

Masson Mill is a Grade II* listed building constructed c. 1783. The original centre block of painted brick, built for Sir Richard Arkwright, is of four storeys with later five-storeyed wings of painted brick at the sides and slate roofs. (1) Masson Mill was built by Richard Arkwright in 1783 and subsequently extended. It has Venetian windows, quoins and segmental heads. The building is still in use [1960], although currently empty and 'To Let'. The old factory bell from Cromford Mill is preserved in the forecourt. (2) A paper mill was built on the site in 1771 by Messrs Robert Shore of Snitterton and George White of Winster. In 1780 Arkwright agreed to buy from them land at North Masson (Masson Close) as well as a paper mill they had erected at Upper Masson Close. Arkwright then proceeded to build the cotton mill below the paper mill. In 1790 the Manchester Mercury advertised a substantial paper mill to be let in good repair on the River Derwent near Cromford. Papermakers' Directories of 1853 and 1866 list George Simonds (Symons) at both Masson Mill, Matlock, and Dunsley, making cartridges and pasteboards in the former. (3) Late 19th century OS maps show the site as 'Masson Mills (Cotton and Paper)'. (4, 5) On an early 20th century OS map the site is shown as 'Masson Mills (Cotton)', with no mention of paper. (6) Masson Mills form a large cotton-spinning complex, consisting of three mills and a number of ancillary buildings. The earliest building, known as Arkwright Mill, lies on a roughly north-east to south-west axis. It dates from c. 1783 and is a five-storey brick-built water-powered cotton mill, 21 bays long by three bays deep. A five-storey addition at the north end with a three bay brick west elevation probably dates from the early to mid 19th century. It infilled the space between the original mill and an east-west range of late 18th or early 19th century date, of which only a fragment remains. In the mid-19th century the original 21 bays of the mill (excluding the west projection) were raised by the addition of an attic storey. A new west entrance was provided at first floor level, reached via a bridge. At some time before 1880 the power supply was supplemented by a second water-wheel positioned opposite the north end of the east wall. Probably in the 1890s the north addition was raised to six-storeys. A two-storey tower was constructed on the north-east corner, on top of which the header tank for a sprinkler system was mounted. In 1911 the four-storey Masson Mill was built in fireproof construction, abutting the south end of Arkwright Mill. Further buildings were erected north of the mill, including a three-storey electricity power house and a chimney. At about the same time a large single-storey north-lit shed was added against the west side of Arkwright Mill, possibly for carding. Opening off the west side of this shed is the surviving ground floor of an otherwise demolished north-south range. It has four bays of jack-arches on cast-iron columns typical of the first quarter of the 19th century. The two-storey Glen Mill, in the same style as Masson, was added at its south end after 1922, while a large steel-framed shed south of this dates from the 1950s. Water turbines replaced the water wheels from 1928. The complex was doubling cotton thread at the time of RCHME survey, but closure was anticipated shortly. (7) Masson Mill proclaims Arkwright's growing wealth and self confidence. Unlike the mills at Cromford, it is built on a major river, the river Derwent, which offered Arkwright the opportunity of a power source ten times greater than he enjoyed at his Cromford site. Externally, its design reflects a deliberate movement towards conscious architectural style, and its overall layout, incorporating the staircase and ancillary services in a central projection leaving production floors uncluttered, was an important advance on the early 'Cromford' style mills. Constructed in brick on a gritstone base, with stone quoins and window dressings, the original 21 bay 5 storey building was 43.8 metres long and 8.4 metres wide. The central three bays are advanced and have been given a decorative architectural treatment with a small lunette window between Venetian windows on each floor. It is capped with a cupola beneath which hung the mill bell. The mill was powered by a single waterwheel which, by 1801, had been replaced by two, a system which continued (with replacement wheels by Wren and Bennet in 1847) until turbines were installed in 1928. In its original form, the mill was built with a high parapet which concealed a low pitch roof but probably at the same time as the second wheel was added c. 1800, the roof was raised, as a result of which the mill acquired a useable sixth storey. Buildings were added to the north and west of the mill by c. 1835, some of which were subsequently demolished. In 1911, 1928, and more recently in 1998, extensions were added in Accrington brick. The mill chimney dates from 1900, and this and the engine house were the work of Stott and Sons, the famous mill architects. The mill has been extensively repaired and restored recently. The mill is now home to a museum and a retail village. (8) Listed Grade II Building of 1784 located on the River Derwent, originally using the river as its power source. The original part of the mill is a five storey brick building with slate roof, Venetian windows in the central section and a decorative turret with weather vane, restored in 1975. At the north end of the mill is a water tower, and beyond that an engine house and chimney, presumably added when the mill was converted to steam. The later section was added in 1911 at the southern end in brick. The extreme southern end was added presumably in the 20th century and is known as Glen Mill. The most modern mill is currently (1997) in the course of being converted into a car park and the earlier mills are a textile heritage museum. (9) Originally a large mill built in circa 1783, Arkwright's Masson Mill was of 21 bays and five storeys, though after a number of mills rapidly closing in the 1960s, the closure of Masson in 1992 brought to a virtual end the production of cotton in the Derwent Valley. Solid, cast-iron columns of quasi-cruciform section and moulded capitals and bases survive in the remains of what may have been a warehouse at Masson Mill, indicating that Richard Arkwright junior was receptive to fireproof construction technology, though not apparently involved in its development. The working rooms were kept clear throughout their full length on each floor, achieved by housing the stair, offices and privies on a projection on the front wall. A stove vent system has been identified in Masson Mill where it appears the flow of hot air could be adjusted by the use of sliding shutters. (10)

Sources/Archives (10)

  • <1> Listed Building File: Historic England. 2011. The National Heritage List for England. 3/2957/42a.
  • <2> Index: Council for British Archaeology (CBA). CBA Industrial Archaeology Report Card. Cotton mill, Matlock Bath.
  • <3> (No record type): Schmoller, T. 1994. 'Some notes on Derbyshire paper mills, part 1', The Quarterly. Issue no. 9 (January), pp 1-5.
  • <4> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1882. OS County Series, 1st edition, scale 1:2500 (c. 25" to one mile).
  • <5> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1896-1900. OS County Series, 2nd edition (1st revision), scale 1:2500 (c. 25" to one mile).
  • <6> Map: Ordnance Survey (OS). 1912-1921. OS County Series, 3rd edition (Second Revision), scale 1:2500 (25" to one mile).
  • <7> Unpublished document: Menuge, A (RCHME). 1992. Historic Buildings Report, Masson Mills, Derby Road, Matlock Bath, Derbyshire.
  • <8> Unpublished document: Derwent Valley Mills (DVM) Nomination Steering Panel. 2000. Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage List Nomination Document. p 38.
  • <9> Bibliographic reference: Fowkes, D (ed.). 1997. Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology. A Gazetteer of Sites. Part IV. Derbyshire Dales.
  • <10> Article in serial: Menuge, A (RCHME). 1993. 'The cotton mills of the Derbyshire Derwent and its tributaries', Industrial Archaeology Reivew.



Grid reference Centred SK 2944 5736 (170m by 275m)
World Heritage Site Derwent Valley Mills

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

Related Events/Activities (1)

  • EDR2576

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Record last edited

Nov 10 2023 6:27AM

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