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Purcell’s work at Building 17, Cromford Mills has been awarded the Europa Nostra award for Conservation.  

The adaptive reuse of this building, which incorporates respectful and reversible interventions, addressed problems of contamination with innovative research. The result is a building with a social function that offers the perfect gateway to the World Heritage site of the Derwent Valley Mills.

Europa Nostra jury 2017

One of the birthplaces of the industrial revolution, Cromford Mills forms part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. Sir Richard Arkwright constructed the world’s first successful water powered cotton spinning mill at Cromford in 1771, industrialising the cotton cloth manufacturing industry.

The refurbishment of Building 17 was initiated once The Arkwright Society bought the site.  Funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the European Regional Development Fund were secured to redevelop the Grade I listed site into a visitor centre and a space for creative industries on the upper floors.

Building 17 was in a poor state of disrepair due to lack of maintenance and unsuitable previous  interventions, compromising the structural integrity of the building. The conservation works were further complicated by the extensive contamination of the site as it was previously used as a colour pigment works. The dedicated team resolved this and the other constraints on the conservation with an innovative and phased approach.

Partner Niall Phillips commented: “We are extremely proud to be recognised by Europa Nostra for our work at Building 17. Our refurbishment respects the building’s industrial character, and has created a fantastic new visitor centre and business space which we hope will catalyse further developments at Cromford Mills and the wider World Heritage Site.”  

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