By Adrian Farmer
In these days of tight finances, it’s important to recognise and support local businesses and amenities. One important sector we sometimes take for granted are the small, independent museums dotted across the country, which help communities understand their heritage, but are having to work that little bit harder in the present financial climate. In Belper, we have Strutt’s North Mill, which receives visitors from across the world who discover how the town, the mills and the Strutt family who built them have impacted on World History. It’s a big story and we should all be very proud of what was achieved here. But that story isn’t just for visitors from afar – the North Mill does a brilliant job of refreshing its interpretation and that story so local people can visit regularly and find there’s something new to see.If you haven’t been to Strutt’s North Mill this year, you really haven’t seen anything of what’s there now – it’s a great way of spending some free time, and it’s right on your doorstep. Extra incentives are the numerous events coming up. At the moment, to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of World War One, there’s an exhibition of photographs explaining the war’s impact on Belper in the first few weeks. That runs until the end of this month. At 2pm on August 31, from Belper Market Place, there’s a guided walk about Medieval Belper. At £4 per person it’s a fun way of discovering the earliest surviving parts of the town. A history fair will be based at the mill on September 21 from 11am to 4pm, with lots of activities, stalls and displays to enjoy. There’ll be demonstrations, talks and plenty of things to try, and the £4 admission includes a tour around the new-look displays. A week later on September 28 there’s a walk, again from the Market Place, following the boundary of the town’s ancient deer park.And then we’re heading into October, with World Heritage Site events from October 25 to November 2, including Derwent Pulse, which will see hundreds of self-illuminated globes bobbing down the Derwent, including through the River Gardens on October 28. Before then, keep an eye out for the Discovery Day events at Darley Abbey on September 13 – more information at www.derwentvalleymills.org. Strutt’s North Mill is open 11am to 4pm Wednesday to Sunday. For more visit belpernorthmill.org.