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  • Writer's pictureRon Common

Preparing for a new beginning.

Updated: Apr 29, 2021

219 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. In 2013, a report was commissioned into the cottage's history and to propose development options. I joined DerwentWISE as a volunteer in August 2016 and in February 2017, a business plan for the cottage's restoration was agreed with DWT.

Which brings us to today, with planning consent secured plus sufficient the funding to start the build and volunteers now registering their interest in taking part in the restoration, our team is ready.

Thanks to this community spirit and joint effort between organisations and individuals over the last 3 years, we are now on the brink of saving this important building, including all its wonderful history, pictures and the "people stories" which 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.

When completed, they will have an inviting “gateway” to the beautiful Lea Wood Nature Reserve and will have rescued an important piece of heritage within the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.

Everyone involved can feel very proud of the legacy about to be created.

If you would like to take part, please email either myself at:

or, Alex Morley at

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