Tarmac grant to fund interpretation at restored cottage visitor centre

December 1, 2021

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust’s historic Aqueduct Cottage has received a £21,000 donation from the Tarmac Landfill Communities Fund. The money will be used to design and install visitor information in the restored cottage, and help visitors find out about the Derwent Valley and surrounding area.

The grant will also fund a viewpoint to give visitors a better sense of the woodland reserve and valley landscape and provide a significant contribution towards a new woodland sculpture trail for people to enjoy as they explore Lea Wood.

Aqueduct Cottage is a Grade II listed building situated on the beautiful Cromford Canal on the edge of Lea Wood and is a key part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site. Florence Nightingale was known to be friends with the occupants during the time she lived at Lea Hurst, in Holloway, and visited several times. It was abandoned in 1970 and after a spell as a wayfarer’s shelter, fell into disrepair, with the collapse of the roof seemingly sealing its fate as a ruin.

Over the last two years, the dilapidated building has been lovingly and carefully restored thanks to a team of volunteers who have learnt new skills alongside local craftspeople. Funding so far has helped Derbyshire Wildlife Trust to restore the walls, chimneys, and roof as well as installing a new first floor. The cottage has no vehicle access, so all materials had to be carried in and out.

Aqueduct Cottage before the restoration. Photo credit: Ron Common

Volunteers have recently learned how to apply lime mortar, and combined with their existing skills in drystone walling, the grant will support their work to turn another nearby ruin into a new compost toilet facility.

Derbyshire Wildlife Trust decided to apply for funding from the Tarmac Landfill Communities Fund to complete the building’s restoration works and making it a safe and attractive visitors centre, with more information about how the environment is being managed to reduce risk of flooding, locking up carbon to help tackle climate change, as well as the wildlife that lives nearby.

Aaron Laycock, quarry manager at Tarmac’s Dene Quarry, said: “We are pleased to have been able to help Derbyshire Wildlife Trust with this project and are looking forward to seeing the finished result once the restoration of the cottage is complete.”

Lisa Witham, Head of Wilder Communities at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust said; “This generous funding from Tarmac helps us place the last piece of the renovation jigsaw. It’s been a momentous and very challenging couple of years but incredible to be nearly at the point when we can open the building to visitors and showcase more about this popular area.”

The cottage will open for visitors and school groups, with the new information in place, from next spring.