26 January 2024

PAST : PRESENT : WORK –  Cromford Mills

Phase One: Workshops at Cromford Mills

Project participants have completed the first phase of Past:Present:Work workshops conducted by the Cromford Mills Learning and Engagement Team. The workshops drew inspiration from Sir Richard Arkwright’s legacy as the ‘Father of the Factory System’ and the Hydropower Project at Cromford Mills.

‘Past:Present:Work’ is a National Lottery Heritage Funded employability project, focused on local heritage. It provides a unique opportunity for YMCA Derbyshire residents and learners aged 16-35 to explore heritage and conservation sites in Derbyshire.

Workshop Themes

Cromford Mills staff teaching YMCA Derbyshire Residents

Themes covered during the workshops included:

  • ‘What is Heritage?’
  • Identifying STEM Skills
  • Jobs of the Past
  • Current Employment Opportunities in Heritage Settings
  • Product Design and Entrepreneurship

‘Shine a Light’ Event Cromford Mills

Participants attended the ‘Shine a Light’ event at Cromford Mills, featuring large-scale projections on mill buildings and a UV room showcasing their crafted YMCA letters and paper mâché sculptures.

Product Design and Entrepreneurship

Through sessions facilitated by the Cromford Learning and Engagement Team, participants researched and created various products, such as Christmas decorations, jewelry, earrings, and innovative product packaging that doubles as a Christmas card.

After a transactional analysis and sales session, participants successfully negotiated with Weaveknitit shop to display and sell their finished products at Cromford Mills.

Participant Impact and Confidence Building

The workshops, attended by on and offsite YMCA residents and Key College learners, not only introduced participants to Cromford Mills but also boosted their confidence in using public transport to travel across Derbyshire.

Project Partners

Cromford Mills is one of three delivery partners in the two-year Past:Present:Work Project. Future workshops will be led by The Museum of Making and Derbyshire Wildlife Trust.


The success of this project is attributed to the support of the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the National Lottery players who made this work possible.

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