Masson Mills – “Home from Home” for Original Arkwright Machine

Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Newsletter Sept 2009

In accordance with the policy of continued improvement of the exhibits and the Museum, we are now pleased to open for viewing the “Victorian Workshop”.

Although it is called a Victorian Workshop, this is the type of workshop which would been familiar to Sir Richard Arkwright, subsequently throughout the Victorian Age and up to approximately the 1960’s. It demonstrates the use of one power source driving all the machinery, with the use of line shafting, pulleys and belts. For Sir Richard Arkwright, the power source was the waterwheel, then came the steam engine, which entailed a simple conversion to the main driving mechanisms. With the introduction of electrical power the conversion was again relatively simple.

In addition to the lathes, drills, grinders and blacksmith’s forge, a number of steam engines are located in this workshop. Future plans are that these will also be working.

Renovation is now being carried out to an original Arkwright gear-cutting machine dating from the late 18th century. This machine was used to cut the delicate gears vital to the operation of Arkwright’s water frames. This machine has been kindly loaned by a Friend of Masson Mills. In addition to the gear cutters is a large brass disc with precisely positioned markers, which ensured the accuracy of its operation.

The gear-cutting machine is on display in the Museum Reception and serves to enhance our understanding of the complexity of the water fame which is currently under construction at Masson Mills. The water frame and the gear-cutting machine are a vital part of the story of the Legacy of Sir Richard Arkwright, still continuing at Masson Mills.