What a fantastic project…
To think, 217 years ago, in 1802, the first stones were being laid to build Aqueduct Cottage – a small but important piece of the industrial development of the Lower Derwent Valley, renowned as the birthplace of the industrial revolution.
Although the railways soon took over from the canals for commercial transport, the cottage remained a workers cottage and family home for the following 170 years, until vacated in 1969.
Decades of decline followed which led to the cottage becoming derelict to the point of collapse.
Then in 2005, local villagers, having set up Lea Wood Trust, bought the woodland (including Aqueduct Cottage) to prevent it falling into the hands of a private developer.
7 years later, in 2012, the Trust generously gifted the land to Derbyshire Wildlife Trust to preserve it in perpetuity.
The wood became a Nature Reserve but the question remained, what to do with the cottage?
Thankfully, it was identified as one of 50 landscape improvement projects under the DerwentWISE programme, hosted by DWT and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
A report was commissioned in 2013 into its background and development options, and a business plan for the restoration finally agreed in February 2017.
Which brings us to today, 2 centuries later, with new plans passed, funding to start the re-build, and volunteers now registering their interest in taking part in the restoration – whether its ferrying materials, mixing mortar, a bit of carpentry, organising , recording or simply making the tea.
Its thanks to this great community spirit – a true joint effort between organisations and community over the last 3 years, that we are now on the brink of saving this important little building, including all the wonderful history, pictures and people stories that go with it.
All credit to Derbyshire Wildlife Trust for taking on this heritage project, and for their continued efforts to raise the balance of funding needed to finish the build ( £35-£40K).
When completed, they will not only have an inviting “gateway” to the beautiful Lea Wood Nature Reserve, but will have rescued an important piece of heritage within the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.
We can all feel very proud of this collective endeavour – a Derbyshire “good news” story that is about to enter its most exciting chapter.
If you would like to take part, please email either myself at: email@example.com
or, Alex Morley at firstname.lastname@example.org