Building of the Month September 2023 - Strutt’s North Mill, Belper, Derbyshire, DE56 1YD

2023 - Chris and Ruth Taylor Durant

The grand Strutt’s North Mill is located within the former industrial town of Belper, Derbyshire, and forms part of the wider Strutt’s Mills complex. Grade I (LEN: 1186846) listed, the North Mill was built in 1803 by William Strutt and, according to its listing entry, was the earliest iron framed mill in the world. Constructed after the original mill burnt down in 1786, it is the most intact example of an iron framed industrial building in the world and was built to not only withstand fire, but to provide light and airy conditions for the workers. At five storeys tall, the red brick building features several large windows and a slate roof which forms a point at its gables. The mill is an integral part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site and, combined with the remaining Strutt’s Mill buildings, represents Belper’s important industrial history.


Employing nearly 2000 people at its peak, the mill reflects the powerful role industrialisation played within the town and the employment it provided to its inhabitants. Since the mill’s closure, a number of original Strutt Mill buildings including the Reeling Mills have been demolished, increasing the importance of North Mill and the remaining buildings surrounding it.


Until 2022, the mill was home to the Strutt’s North Mill Museum which told the story of its creation and the role Belper played within the industrial revolution. Unfortunately, due to loss of funding, the museum had to shut its doors. As a collective, the site has suffered from disrepair and many of its buildings are left unused. In 2018 a plan was put forward to develop the site, creating a number of residential and commercial properties that would incorporate the mill buildings. Since then, however, work has not begun and a final decision on the planning permission is still to be determined. Local residents are eager to see these striking mills return to their former glory and have campaigned for their upkeep and reuse.