Belper Weir

I really just fancied a spin up to the peak District today, but with the forecast being a little uncertain I popped into Belper. It sits on the river Derwent in the Amber Valley just north of Derby. The town was a centre for nail making but with the river Derwent it was able to take advantage of the abundance of waterpower from the river to become one of the very first mill towns.

You can see by the size of the weir, there was some serious horsepower extracted here. One of Richard Arkwright’s pals, Jedediah Strutt built this first mil that went up in flames. The replacement is now a well-known landmark.

Interestingly, a local guy called A B Williamson developed a substance for conditioning silk stockings. The development of nylon stocking after WWII made this substance useless until the mechanics found out it was amazingly good for cleaning oily hands and is still sold today as Swarfega.

Belper, from nylon stockings to Swarfega, some people get all the fun.


About Morturn

Historian – Photographer – Filmmaker Retired construction professional with a passion for public, social and industrial history. I believe in equality, dignity and integrity for all. Don’t like people who try to belittle the ambitions of others. I am of the opinion that my now life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live.
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