The town of Belper, in Derbyshire, was the first town of the Industrial Revolution, being home to some of the earliest cotton mills anywhere in the world. But it was also home to many other industries, and a number of very famous names. This profusion of industries led to Belper rapidly becoming the second largest town in the county of Derbyshire, with only the county town of Derby itself being larger. Sadly, most of these businesses and industries have now left the town, some moving elsewhere while others have closed completely. Today, after years of being largely ignored by historians, Belper’s contributions to world history have finally been recognised through its inclusion in the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.
This tour takes the form of a guided walk around the town, looking at each of the different industries that once provided employment for the town. It looks at where the industries were, how they came to the town, how they affected the lives of those living in the town at the time, and what has happened to them now. Some of the industries and companies involved are quite surprising, including one very major name who’s presence in the town during the Second World War was kept so secret that few know of it even today.
As a short urban walk, there’s no need for specialist walking gear. And as Belper is located close to Derby with good transport links to the surrounding area, including as far away as Manchester and even London, it is ideal for those who prefer to use public transport in order to minimise their environmental impact.