History of the village
Cressbrook is not an old village. Nearly all of the buildings post-date 1810, the exception being some very old cottages in the vicinity of the green that were once woodmans' and lead miners' cottages. In 1776 John Baker, a hosier from Litton, was granted an enclosure of land around the area known as Litton Frith. This included the woodland of Cressbrook Dale and the Eastern end of Water-cum-Jolly Dale. He built a house in Water-cum-jolly that he called Rock House. It was built into the side of the rock face that is now known as Rubican Wall. He grew fruit trees and nut trees and distilled essential oils such as Peppermint.
In the late 1770s he was approached by Richard Arkwright, who wanted to build a small cotton spinning mill at the exit of Water-cum-Jolly where the River Wye was rapid and fell down an energetic cataract. Arkwright leased a parcel of land and began operating a small wooden spinning mill in 1779. This burnt down in 1785 and was rebuilt in stone in 1787 by Richard Arkwright Jnr, his father having passed away. Arkwright sold the mill to his uncle Samuel Simpson in 1792. Simpson also acquired the freehold of the land and let the mill to Barker Bosley and Edmund Baker, John Baker's son.
Bosley and Baker went bust in 1809 and in 1810 the mill and the Frith was bought by JL Philips and Brother, Cotton Spinners. Philips developed the mill site as it presently looks, adding Wye Mill (1814) and Cressbrook Mill (1823) to the original Arkwright Mill as well as building the adjacent Apprentice Houses, Home Farm and Ravensdale Cottages (1820). Following the death of John Philips in 1824 his uncle and business partner Francis Philips put the entire enterprise up for sale and in 1835 it was bought by McConnel and Company, cotton spinners. It was Henry McConnel who built Cressbrook and most of the village as it now looks was built under his partonage between 1835 and 1840.
For the next 50 or so years the mill was very successful, supplying high quality cotton to the lace industry in Nottingham, but by the 1890s the mills had started to run down the supply of lace thread. It was incorporated as a seperate trading entity, Cressbook Mills Ltd and was being rented by Lord Scarsdale who engaged Styal Mill to run it. In 1893 it was bought by Matthew Dickie Ltd and his business partner William Mallison. Another 25 years or so of prosperity followed but in the 1930s the mill started to suffer trading difficulties and went bust again in 1935. Two major creditors, William Bingham of Buxton and Stanton Estates of Stanton-In-Peak, were found and the mill re-opened. Trading was never easy from then on and the mill finally ceased for good in 1965.
After that time the houses in the village were sold off into private ownership and the mill became the location for stone-cutting business run by David Holmes of Over Haddon. Stone-cutting ceased in the 1990s and David converted the mill into the high quality flats. The site now looks superb and this historically significant building is now secure for the next couple of hundred years.
Cressbrook survived the demise of the mill mainly because the workers houses were rented. With the mill's closure they departed to be replaced by a mainly commuting community with some second-homers and holiday homes. Relative to other villages in the area Cressbrook is small but community is highly active with frequent events throughout a busy year. Keep an eye on the events calendar of this web site to see what's going on. We're both friendly and welcoming so why not come over and say hello.