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The “Bear Pit”, Cromford, Derbyshire

1730 - 2000 (c.)

Known to locals as the “Bear Pit”, this example of hydraulic engineering was constructed in 1785 by Sir Richard Arkwright. The structure is a stone-lined pit sunk into Cromford Sough and regulated the supply of water to the mills. A dam in the foreground of the photograph held water and forced it into an underground channel. The channel connected the sough with the Greyhound Pond, supplementing its volume of water. This happened each Sunday when the factories were idle, enabling the mill to be supplied with sufficient water when they restarted each Monday morning. The sluice controlling the supply of water to Cromford’s mills is in the background of the photograph. Arkwright faced opposition from local lead miners when he damned the Cromford Sough at the “Bear Pit” to force water into the Greyhound Pond. They lost supplies of water as a result. A major example of industrial archaeology, this example of grade II listed engineering.


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