World’s First Factory Will Be Reopened as a Museum of Making

The world’s first factory was a silk mill in Derby. The structure opened doors in 1721 and was the first production facility to have a fully mechanized mill supplied by a single power source.

The Derby Silk Mill with its burned Italianate tower and factoryOver the centuries, the building was damaged by fire and different demolition projects. This, however, is about to change as the factory has been subjected to a massive five-year renovation project, which will end in the spring of 2021.

The Maker Movement Inspired the Idea of Resurrecting the Factory

The structure will rise again from ruins and will be used as a museum dedicated to the physical acts of creating and mending. The maker movement is a subculture that honors the skills necessary to craft something out of raw materials. It celebrates woodworking, metallurgy, textile design, and more. It focused on repurposing existing objects, which ultimately allows people to experience the fun and fulfillment of creating something with their hands.

Mills along River Derwent in Derwent Valley MillsDerby-based development agencies and the local Arts Council were granted a sum of $24 million from the national lottery fund to help with the reconstruction and reopening of the factory. The museum is located in Derwent Valley Mills a World Heritage Site along the River Derwent.

The Derby Community Contributed to the Realization of the Project

The people responsible for the museum held extensive consultations with the local community and used their feedback to shape and design the building. In addition, volunteers cleaned 11,000 bricks from the original factory so they can be reused during the renovation of the structure.

3D rending of the building's new designThe new museum is designed by renowned firm Bauman Lyon Architects and retains the factory’s Italianate tower, Grade-I listed gates, and arches. The building’s concept is a mish-mash between lots of different periods so the structure itself can tell the story of crafts making.

The Museum of Making will display an amazing collection of 30,000 artifacts, which range from a gigantic Rolls-Royce engine to a tiny 1930s motor that is run by a single human hair. With the opening of the gallery, the world’s first factory will continue to build its legacy.