The cottage’s exterior will be sympathetically restored while the interior will tell visitors about the wonderful wildlife of the local area set in the context of the wider landscape and its rich social heritage. Visitors will find information about enjoying Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s nearby Lea Wood Nature Reserve, local walks and the wildlife that lives there.
The Grade II listed building near Cromford was once owned, along with Lea Wood by the family of Florence Nightingale. It was built by Peter Nightingale, Florence’s great uncle in c1802 as a lock keepers or lengthsman cottage and is situated on what was the branch canal to his factories and lead works at Lea Bridge and Lea Wharf. It was last inhabited in 1970 when new sanitation rules made it unfit as a dwelling. The simple two story dwelling made of local gritstone and limestone mortar has no water or electricity supply.
Over the last few weeks, Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and volunteers have removes around 300 wheelbarrow loads or 20 tonnes of rubble and soil from within the derelict building and cleared the ground around it. Scaffolding will go up so work can begin on the new roof, chimney and walls.
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s Lea Wood nature reserve manager Alex Morley said; “It’s very exciting to reach this point, to see the work start which will bring this iconic local ruin back to life. It will be a wonderful venue for people visiting Lea Wood, to showcase more about the area and its wildlife. Huge appreciation and thanks to everyone who donated and helped so we could begin the work. The volunteers have done an incredible job and worked really hard during a very wet autumn preparing the site so building work can begin. Special thanks too to architect James Boon, working on behalf of the Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust for his advice and designs and local builder and heritage specialist Andrew Churchman who will carry out the work.”
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust have now launched a Crowdfunder campaign to raise money for phase two, to complete the work inside the building. This follows a £35,000 grant from The Pilgrim Trust which will be used to complete the work on the main fabric of the cottage, funds from the crowdfunding Buy a Brick campaign and players of the National Lottery.
Derbyshire Wildlife Trust hope to open the cottage to visitors later next summer.