A county without old buildings is like a family without a memory.
The Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust, since its inception in 1974, has promoted the care, conservation and, where applicable, the creative re-use of our built heritage. Unfortunately, some buildings become disused, neglected and in need of repair. Such 'buildings at risk' are in danger of demolition, and some have been lost. DHBT have rescued over 100 such buildings, returning them to their original, or a new, use. We also work as a catalyst, enabler and partner with other organisations to assist in the rescue of buildings they own or have acquired.
Though small, and apparently beyond rescue, none is more important than Aqueduct Cottage on the Cromford Canal. Its association with Peter Nightingale, Richard Arkwright's financial partner, who constructed the Lea Bridge arm of the canal, along with the cottage at its junction, is reinforced by his construction of Lea Hurst on the hill behind. It was here where his nephew's daughter, Florence Nightingale, was to grow up. It is inconceivable that the residents of the cottage were not known to Florence who enjoyed walking the grounds of the hall and the countryside around.
The acquisition of this cottage by the Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, supported by the local community, as part of the adjacent woodland, was a brave and visionary first step. The DHBT, in partnership, saw the need to not just retain the ruin, but also gain planning permission towards a use that would support the interpretation of the land and the building, and hopefully to provide power through a micro hydro-electric plant.
However, nothing could have ever been achieved by either Trust, without the determination and hard work of the many volunteers, led by Ron Common, who have undertaken research, raised awareness, cleared the site, sought funds and repaired the shell of the building.
Though yet to be completed, it is appropriate that, at this time of enforced pause in activity that coincides with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Florence Nightingale, we take a moment to celebrate what has been achieved.
The DHBT congratulates all involved and look forward towards the completion of the project.