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

We want to repair Aqueduct Cottage to its former glory, and we want as many people as possible to understand the importance of Lea Wood and why the Derwent Valley is so special.

The restoration will provide an ideal location for a visitors centre, to tell the history of the Cottage and of the surrounding area.  As part of this, we set up a Crowd Funder campaign, 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 over the Spring and Summer 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 in September to carry out some minor groundwork operations. As we learn how to work within the new requirements these volunteer tasks continue and are planned to gain pace over the Autumn & Winter period, focusing upon the access work around the Cottage and into the Lea Wood Nature Reserve.


As for the Cottage itself, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s, the stakeholders’, and funders’ primary objective at this moment is to make the structure weather secure for the Winter period. As such, this weekend, volunteers and crafts people will begin constructing the timber roof structure before the birchstone and slates can be installed over the next few weeks, and the issue regarding the gable cracks can be address.


Our ambition had been to have the project completed for August 2020. We are taking this opportunity to look again at the project timetable.

What next?

 As a result of raising these funds, this has enabled us to begin working on the cottage this summer. Any additional funds will be used to support better access into Lea Wood, to provide interpretation panels to explain the cottage's fascinating history and place in nature, and support landscaping work to the additional buildings. 

·         We have submitted a planning application to have the building restored.

·         For the design and planning application phase, we are working with Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust.

·         We are now gathering quotes for how much our ideas for the interpretation will cost so we can include them into funding bids in order to make the Aqueduct project a reality.

·         We are looking forward to a grand opening event at the cottage in summer 2020 to coincide with the Florence Nightingale bi-centennial celebrations.

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