Village celebrates its historic past

SP90612 Lizzie Knighton with Guess the name of the bear, for Cromford Toddler group.
SP90612 Lizzie Knighton with Guess the name of the bear, for Cromford Toddler group.

Forty years ago Cromford staged a festival to relive the village’s history.

And this year – as part of the annual Celebrating Cromford event – villagers have once again be turning the clock back to the time of Richard Arkwright.

Derek and Dorothy Rice as the Arkwrights with their 13 children.

Derek and Dorothy Rice as the Arkwrights with their 13 children.

In July, 1971, the Arkwright Festival was held to mark the 200th anniversary of Arkwright’s first water-powered spinning mill.

The event included a performance by primary school pupils, maypole dancing, music, sport, pageants, costumed processions and exhibitions.

This year the village once again relived its industrial past on Friday, June 17, and Saturday and Sunday, June 18 and 19.

Cromford Primary School pupils donned costumes – provided by Masson Mill Museum – and paraded in the Market Place along with members of captain Peter Arkwright’s company of volunteers on the Saturday, June 18.

An exhibition also took place to showcase old photographs and newspaper articles.

Mole Vessey, one of the organisers of the event, said: “Residents have been coming together to come up with new ideas and we have got many more people involved.”

“There is a real community spirit in Cromford. The majority of people know each other and there is always a friendly face on the street.”

This is the seventh year the village has hosted Celebrating Cromford, to mark the varied talents of residents.

The festival kicked off on Friday, with the opening ceremony by VIP guest Ally Law – musical director of award-winning chorus DaleDiva.

The famous traction engine tug then took place up Cromford Hill and a beer festival was staged at the Bell pub.

On Saturday, the primary school hosted a fair which included a bouncy castle, hula-hooping, traditional games, a photograph display and refreshments.

The first Cromford Fell Race then took place along with the inaugural Celebrating Cromford procession down the hill to the community centre.

Stalls were set up along North Street and Scarthin and exhibitions and tours of the area’s rich historic heritage were staged.

On Sunday there was an open-air service in the marquee, a mini-zoo on Scarthin and the Hereford Moles Touring Cricket Team took on Cromford’s finest on the meadows.

Villagers also opened their gardens to the public and a duck race took place along the River Derwent.

Live music was on offer in the marquee from 3.30pm kicking off with DaleDiva and finishing with Cromford’s own Rock Factory.

Steve Rawlinson, guitarist with Rock Factory, said: “Celebrating Cromford is a real community event and an ideal opportunity to involve everyone who lives here. A couple of hundred years ago everyone in the world got to hear of Cromford and Richard Arkwright.

“Cromford is a great place with diverse talents and abilities.”

Other activities and events included a Celebrating Cromford film made by resident Bryan Smith, which was shown at the Methodist Church, a children’s poetry competition, a craft fair at Cromford Mill, a gun dog display, Morris dancing and tours of Willersley Castle and Masson Mill Museum ran all weekend.