Strutt family member opens town exhibition

Lin Ryan
Lin Ryan

A MEMBER of the family which transformed Belper from a small village in to the second largest town in the county returned to help remember her ancestors’ achievements.

An exhibition at the Strutts Centre, on Derby Road, opened with Herbert Strutt’s granddaughter Lin Ryan flying in from Ireland with her husband Michael to perform the opening ceremony.

The Strutts Centre was formerly the Herbert Strutt School.

It is thanks to the innovations of the Strutts, and their contemporaries such as Richard Arkwright, that Belper is now part of a World Heritage Site, centred on the Derwent Valley Mills such as Belper’s North Mill.

At the opening of the exhibition, which was entitled ‘The Strutts and Innovation’, Lin said: “Last year, Michael, my husband, began to reach out via the internet to look into our family’s past.

“This grew into a visit to Belper where we met some wonderfully welcoming, hospitable people who introduced us to the generosity of the Strutt family to the town.

“The Strutt family appear to have been enlightened with great engineering knowledge and business acumen. Their innovation and creativity led to huge technical advancement.”

Alongside the exhibition there have been other events, including a Strutts and Innovation-themed walk, an exhibition quiz and walking trail linking the Strutt Centre with Strutt’s North Mill. The mill also had artefacts on display.

The exhibition, which finished on Monday, May 2, was organised as part of a Heritage Lottery Fund project initiative entitled ‘Enlightenment! Derbyshire setting the pace in the Eighteenth Century’.

The aim of the project was to collect objects that show Derbyshire’s role in the age of Scientific Discovery, between 1712 and 1916.

With a grant from the Heritage Lottery fund’s Collecting Cultures programme, the North Mill, Derby Museum, and Buxton Museum will be able to add artefacts to their collections to help record and understand this period.