CHARTERED BUILDING SURVEYORS
North Street, Cromford
Peter Napier and Co
“The Arkwright Houses” on North Street Cromford, Derbyshire are one of the earliest examples of industrial housing and as such is of historical importance as they mark an important stage in the development of the textile industry and workers' housing in that they provided both accommodation and workshop space on the second floor
They were built by Richard Arkwright to house textile workers because at the time that he built his cotton spinning mill in the valley at Cromford he realised he would need a workforce greater than the local population could provide. He named the street after Lord North, the prime minister from 1770 to 1782 who led Britain during the American War of Independence.
The houses were well built, with sash windows and fixed leaded lights and with distinctive semi classical door frames, which makes them superior to similar dwellings that workers of the time would have inhabited. This was in order to attract skilled workers and their families to Cromford who might not otherwise have come. The houses even came with a small garden to the front and rear
Today holiday makers can spend time in one of these former mill workers' houses and imagine what life was like nearly 250 years ago, albeit with the conveniences of modern living. No 10 North Street is let by the Landmark Trust who also own several other houses on the North Side of the street and which are to be the subject of a major repair of the weathering exterior stonework.
It is apparent that at the time of building, a nearby source of sandstone was selected to build these houses and many others in the town. It is possible that the stone was not one that had previously been used before and so it may not have been known at the time that the stone was not well resistant to weathering and consequently many of the stones have lost their original tooled faces.
To add insult to injury, many of the houses in this street and in other parts of Cromford have been repointed using hard cement mortar which has exacerbated the weathering in a text book fashion. The works will now seek to reverse this by removing the cement and replacing this either by leaving the original lime mortar that exists behind or by repointing with a lime mortar.
The repair works, which are being undertaken by H A Briddon of Matlock, have been made possible by a generous grant via Historic England from the Department for Culture Media and Sport as part of their Covid-19 Emergency Heritage at Risk Response Fund.