Cressbrook in Derbyshire is beautifully situated in a stretch of the steep sided and winding valley of the River Wye known as Water cum Jolly, just upstream from Monsal Head and midway between Bakewell and Buxton. It has a hall, a village club, a sub post office, some very pretty houses, a church and a mill.
Cressbrook mill, now being converted into flats, is a fine monument of industrial archaelogy. It was built in 1815 on the site of an earlier mill, owned by Richard Arkwright, which had burnt down in 1785. Its manager then, a William Newton was sacked by Arkwright only to return 25 years later to work in the new mill for a new owner.
He was christened the 'Minstral of the Peak ' by his friend Anna Seward and it was perhaps the poet in him that caused him to treat his apprentices better than they were treated at many mills at this time. They had to work long hours but Newton had provided them with a reasonable standard of living and built a village school which has now closed. The work force consisted of a few adults and mostly pauper children who were bought in batches from London and the south. They lived in the cottages known as apprentice row, unofficially pancake row and now Dale Terrace, and slept 4 to a room.
The mill closed down in 1965 with a loss of about 300 jobs. The closure changed the character of the village somewhat in that many inhabitants left, to be replaced by more professional people who are hardly ever seen.
There are some marvellous views from the village club house, which anyone can use for a annual fee of a pound. It was built in 1898 and intended as a gift from the mill owners to the village but as no deeds could be found the villagers eventually had to buy it.
There is an anglican church just outside the village which grew from a 19th century mission room cum sunday school, but the methodist chapel in the village became a private house in 1973. A war memorial stands in the village with 7 names on it and the village celebrates well dressing during the first week in June.