New book about Derwent Valley to be launched

642198 Derwent Valley Mills.inddA new book filled with then-and-now views of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site is being launched to coincide with both Belper Arts Festival and The Derbyshire Literature Festival.

Derwent Valley Mills Through Time is the fifth book on the area by author Adrian Farmer, who is a keen collector of old photographs and prints.

“I think the old images give us a much better understanding of what our surroundings were like all those years ago – familiar, often similar, but rarely quite the same as what we see from day to day.

“This book gives you a chance to compare the past views with the present, so you can really understand where each old photograph was taken.

“I wanted to stretch my boundaries a little more, beyond Belper this time. I’ve so many photographs from up and down the Derwent Valley, and by looking at the whole World Heritage Site, I was able to use those photographs, and others that people kindly let me borrow.

“Of course, that also created problems, in that I had so many photographs to choose from, there were more left out than kept in by the time I’d finished.”

That’s why, as part of the launch evening for the book on May 14, Adrian will be giving a free 45-minute presentation in Number 28 on Belper Market Place, from 7pm.

“It’ll be a chance to see which ones haven’t made it, and I’ll explain why. One of the challenges I faced this time was taking modern-day photographs of the old views – some are completely lost due to the growth in size and number of trees since the Second World War.”

One area which does receive a little more coverage is Belper – partly because it’s Adrian’s home turf, but it has also given him a chance to celebrate the town’s 2014 win in the national Great British High Street Competition.

“The chance to look at the past of what is now officially Britain’s best high street was too good to miss,” he said.

As a volunteer at the Strutt’s North Mill museum, Adrian has been interested in the history of the Derwent Valley Mills between Derby and Matlock Bath since before their inscription on the World Heritage List in 2001.

Adrian regularly leads guided walks in and around the World Heritage Site, including four in the Discovery Walks Festival which kicks off on May 25 (see for details).

He created the Discovery Days Festival in 2005, which now brings in more than 15,000 visitors to the World Heritage Site each year.

In 2012 he was highly commended in Visit England’s first Tourism Superstar award scheme and in 2014 was one of the key players in that successful bid to win the national Great British High Street Competition.

The May 14 presentation is free but places need to be booked through Belper Library on 01629 533192. Books will be available to buy for the first time that evening, from 6.30pm to 8.30pm.