Welcome to Darley Abbey, one of the key communities within the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.
It was here, in an area previously known for its abbey and later water-mills, that Thomas Evans and his sons William and Walter harnessed the power of the Derwent to power their cotton mill complex, now one of the most complete early cotton factory sites surviving in the world. To house the mill workers an industrial community was created on the opposite bank, incorporating earlier buildings.
In recognition of their significance to world history, the mill complex and housing are now part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, inscribed by UNESCO in 2001, and which also includes mills and communities at Matlock Bath, Cromford, Belper, Milford and Derby.
The name Darley Abbey relates to the prosperous Augustinian Abbey of St Mary, of which little remains. In 1750 two unrelated Evans families merged with the marriage of Thomas Evans of Bonsall and Sarah Evans, daughter of Alderman William Evans, originally of Draycott. Alderman William Evans owned various mills in Darley Abbey, but it was through the efforts of Thomas and his sons that the cotton mills and community we see today were financed and built. Subsequently, the Evans family of Darley Abbey and another family of cotton mill pioneers, the Strutts of Belper, were linked by marriages in 1785 and 1793 (see diagram below).
This leaflet takes you to the mills and on a selection of walks around the mill village. Starting point for the first walk is Interpretation Board A on the riverbank opposite the mill complex.
Map & Directions
On the A6 from Derby travel towards Duffield, Belper and Matlock.