Aqueduct Cottage

Aqueduct Cottage

(C) Ashley Franklin

About Aqueduct Cottage

Aqueduct Cottage is a Grade II listed building situated on the beautiful Cromford Canal where it joins the Lea Wood arm and is part of the story of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.

It was built in 1802 as a lengthman and lock-keepers cottage by the industrialist, and one time partner of Richard Arkwright, Peter Nightingale. Its construction, along with the canal lock at the entrance of the Lea Wood arm, was agreed as a part of a settlement to resolve a dispute over the water supply to the developing industries at Lea Bridge and Lea Wharf. Florence Nightingale was known to be friends with the occupants during the time she lived at Lea Hurst, in Holloway, and visited several times. It was abandoned in 1970 and after a spell as a wayfarer’s shelter, has fallen into disrepair, with the collapse of the roof seemingly sealing its fate as a ruin.

Our Aims

Situated between our Lea Wood & Derwentside Nature Reserves along the Cromford Canal, a rejuvenated Aqueduct Cottage affords us a unique opportunity to share the importance of Lea Wood and our vision of a more biodiverse Derwent Valley as part of the Trust’s vision of a 30% re-wilded Derbyshire.

The Cottage’s location, in the beautiful setting of the Derwent valley, is an ideal site for a visitors centre to tell the rich history of the Cottage and the surrounding area. 

As part of this project, we set up a Crowd Funder campaign in 2019 to help support our work and we would like to say a huge thank you to everybody who donated!


We raised £10,200 with an additional £3,400 donated in just over 4 weeks, which is a fantastic start to our work to restore and re-purpose the cottage. It has been a great community project and we have been hearing from people local to Cromford and as far away as USA about their memories and experiences of Aqueduct Cottage and Lea Wood.

You can continue to make donations by calling us on 01773 881188 or sending a cheque to Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, Sandy Hill, Main Street, Middleton, Derbyshire, DE4 4LR

Covid Response

 The Covid 19 situation caused the project to be put on hold or downsized for much of 2020, with only the builder attending site to complete essential works to complete certain tasks. Once lockdown restrictions were eased for the voluntary sector, small groups of volunteers returned to the site from September 2020 to carry out some minor groundwork operations. As we learn how to work within the new requirements these volunteer tasks continued and gained some pace over the Autumn & Winter period in 2021, focusing up providing logistical support to the builder and carpenter.

As of March 2021, the Cottage stonework is now all secure, the chimney’s rebuilt, with the roof timbers constructed and the addition of slate and birchover stone sabs taking place. 

During Spring 2021, under controlled conditions, we are planning on increasing out volunteer days to focus on a programme of exterior landscaping projects, to include returning to the access improvements into Lea Wood.

Subject to funding, our current plan is to have this new gateway facility open for the school 2021 summer holidays.

What next?

Our funding so far has allowed us to restore the walls, chimneys, and roof as well as installing a new first floor. A huge amount of volunteer effort has gone into proving logistical support, as no vehicles can access the worksite and all materials have to be carried in and out.

Volunteers and funds have also been directed at improving access to the Lea Wood nature reserve, particularly in constructing new steps to Disability Discrimination Act specifications.

Any additional funds will be used to support better access into Lea Wood, to provide interpretation panels to explain the cottage's place in nature and a possible wilder Derwent valley, and support landscaping work to the additional buildings. 

Subject to funding we hope that the gateway facility will be open for the school 2021 summer holidays, fingers crossed!

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