Masson Mills


In 1783 Sir Richard Arkwright built his impressive Masson Mill, just up the River Derwent from the existing Cromford Mill. Masson was a cotton mill, from bales of cotton to woven cloth, the only thing that didn’t happen here was any colour dying of the cotton thread. It was the oldest continually running mill in the world, finally closing in 1991. Now the old paper mill that stood next to the cotton mill is a shopping village, but the lower floor of the cotton mill is a museum, still full of machinery for preparing, carding, spinning, and weaving the cotton. When we visited one of the doubling machines was busy making string and some of the weaving machines from the 1800’s were started up for a demonstration. Just 3 machines were incredibly loud, a whole factory must have been deafening -apparently the workers had to communicate with sign language and lip reading. It’s a fascinating place; a building full of history, lost knowledge and huge equipment all powered by the river. Most of the machinery is no longer in use but this place was a part of the industrial revolution, this kind of machinery and factory system completely changed British production and the way people lived and worked.

I find it really interesting but I can’t identify much of the machinery! From the top left: Jacquard looms for weaving fancy patterns using punch cards, a doubling machine, ‘the Devil’ cotton bail shredder, an 1800’s Lancashire loom, and part of the cotton preparation process.

Thread, string, and cotton fabric manufactured in the mill using the old machinery, as well as old bobbins and shuttles are available to buy – I have a couple of offcuts to create something with 🙂


Masson Mill is located between Matlock Bath and Cromford in Northern Derbyshire and is open Monday to Sunday with 2 machine demonstrations each day. Go in the summer, it was freezing in March!


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