from Cromford Village website –
Cromford is a village in the county of Derbyshire in the East Midlands of England, on the southern edge of the Peak District. It has a population of 1,669 (in 1991). Situated just off the A6 trunk road, the village is 17 miles north of Derby, and about 20 minutes drive from the M1 motorway. The nearest towns are Matlock and Wirksworth.
Cromford is well known through its connection with Sir Richard Arkwright, who established a water powered cotton spinning mill here in 1771.
Cromford is set in a valley, surrounded by wooded hills and cliffs, bordered by the River Derwent to the east and vast quarries to the west. There are many paths and trails giving extensive views of the village and beyond.
Cromford is a sturdy, stone built village, cut through by the busy Cromford Hill road and the A6. Although at first sight not a ‘pretty’ village, it has a charm of its own, with much to surprise and please the visitor.
Some cottages and farm buildings pre-date Arkwright’s time, but a large part of the village was built to house the mill workers. They were provided with shops, pubs, chapels and a school.
The 20th century saw the development of council and private housing, while the growth of Dene Quarry changed the face of Cromford for ever.
Other interesting facts about Cromford can be found on the Derbyshire Heritage website
Cromford Bridge was built in the 15th century at the site of a ford, with three pointed arches, and refuges over the bridge supports. It would originally have been only 12 feet wide.. Excavations at the chapel in the 1950s revealed traces of a stone abutment to an earlier timber bridge. About 200 years ago it was widened on the north side, where the arches are rounded.
Cromford Bridge Chapel sits on the older, downstream side of Cromford Bridge. It is thought to be 15th century and one of very few left in the whole of England. It was probably built when the bridge was timber as a place for travellers to give thanks for their safe arrival here and to pray for an uneventful continuation of their journey. A guiding lantern may have shone through the small round window which can be seen here through the old arched doorway.
By the 16th century, the building was in use as a parochial chapelry of Wirksworth but by the mid-1600s was no longer used as a place of worship.At one stage in its history the chapel was used as a cottage, pulled down by Arkwright 2 in 1796 when the new church was built.
A restoration was carried out in 1952 by the Derbyshire Archaeological Society.
A few steps lie between the outer walls and turf-covered mounds indicate where the foundations extended 30 ft along the river bank.
Cromford Bridge inscription
The inscription reads –
THE LEAP OF B H MARE JUNE 1697′
The reason for the inscription was forgotton and many theories were forwarded until in 1933 Mr Henry Douglas wrote in “The Derbyshire Countryside” that according to a family tradition it related to Benjamin Hayward of Bridge House, whose horse failed to take the bend and leapt over the parapet into the river below.
Apparently both survived the jump and landed in the River Derwent with the rider still seated.
This was 33 years after a M Hyde performed a similar stunt at the bridge on the old road at Ashford in the Water but in this case the rider was killed.
Cromford Bridge Fishing Temple
This 18th century fishing temple stands next to the Bridge Chapel above the River Derwent on Cromford bridge.
The sign above the doorway reads ‘Piscatoribus Sacrum’ which translates as ‘Sacred to Fishermen’.
It was originally occupied by the water bailiff for the Arkwright estate, and was lived in until 1914.
The original bridge, built for packhorses and contemporary with the chapel, has been widened with round arches on one side, the older ones down-river being pointed.
This Grade II listed building was built about 1860 in the French style and is attributed to G. H. Stokes, son-in-law of Sir Joseph Paxton. Paxton was a leading figure in the birth of the railways and saw the completion of this branch of the Midland Railway from Ambergate to Rowsley in 1849. Although only 11½ miles long, it had the grand title – a bit previous – for it was called the Manchester, Buxton, Matlock, and Midland Junction. In 1863 it was extended to Manchester, but after the Beeching Axe fell in 1968 the line was closed beyond Matlock.