12 top museums you must visit in Derbyshire and the Peak District
PUBLISHED: 09:27 09 July 2015 | UPDATED: 20:34 23 October 2015
Celebrating Derbyshire’s rich heritage, we highlight some of the best museums in the local area
Crich Tramway Village
Home of the National Tramway Museum, Crich Tramway Village offers visitors the chance to enjoy vintage tram rides on a scenic journey through a period street to open countryside with panoramic views over the Derwent Valley.
The street scene features buildings rescued from towns and cities across the UK - such as the Derby Assembly Rooms façade which came to Crich after a tragic fire. It gives a perfect backdrop to showcase the historic tram collection, including over 70 vintage, steam, electric and horse-drawn trams from across the world.
Numerous indoor and outdoor attractions include an exhibition hall dedicated to the history of the tram, a workshop gallery where visitors can see ongoing restoration and repair work, tea rooms, play areas, shops and woodland walks.
Crich, nr Matlock, DE4 5DP Tel: 01773 854321 www.tramway.co.uk
The Silk Mill
Derby’s picturesque Silk Mill building stands on the site of the world’s first factory and marks the southern end of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.
The first mill building was built beside the River Derwent between 1717 and 1721 for the Lombe brothers to house giant machines used for twisting silk into thread.
John Lombe had copied the design for the machines during a period spent working in Italy for the silk industry - possibly the first ever example of industrial espionage.
Today, it is a museum of industry and history in Derby and hosts creative events plus photography and art exhibitions.
Silk Mill Lane, Derby, DE1 3AF Tel: 01332 255308 www.derbymuseums.org
Joseph Pickford (1734-1782) became one of the country’s leading architects during the reign of George III. He moved to Derby in 1763 and designed his own superb townhouse on Friar Gate, where he lived with his family. The house served as a showcase for his architectural skills, with various features having been designed specifically to impress potential clients.
Pickford’s House opened as a museum of Georgian life in 1988 and the re-furnishing of the rooms has been so well done that it’s not difficult to envisage the family living in the house exactly as they would have done 250 years ago. The house also contains a fine collection of costumes, as well as a toy theatre, and the grounds include a wildlife garden and a formal Georgian garden.
41 Friar Gate, Derby, DE1 1DA Tel: 01332 715181
Midland Railway Museum, Butterley
This 57 acre site has a unique collection of steam, diesel and electric locomotives which regularly run on the seven miles of preserved track.
Model and miniature railways, a playground, picnic areas, cafes and a country park as well as a demonstration signal box offer something for the whole family.
A particular highlight is the ‘West Shed Experience’, operated by the Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust, comprising a remarkable display of locomotives and rolling stock including the ‘Princess Margaret Rose’ and ‘Duchess of Sutherland’.
Butterley, Ripley, DE5 3QZ Tel: 01773 570140
Bakewell Old House Museum
Situated in the oldest standing building in Bakewell, which dates back to 1534, the museum contains an intriguing collection of items from the local area plus information about the town’s industrial history and links with the Arkwright family.
In atmospheric beamed rooms, the building incorporates a Victorian kitchen and Tudor parlour, plus stunning displays of lace, textiles and costumes.
There’s also an industrial gallery and courtyard featuring a stainless steel interpretation of Arkwright’s Lumford mill wheel.
Cunningham Place, Bakewell, DE45 1DD Tel: 01629 813642 www.oldhousemuseum.org.uk
Barrow Hill Roundhouse
The last surviving operational roundhouse shed in Britain. Originally built in 1870 as a maintenance centre for steam locomotives, Barrow Hill later became an engine shed for the diesel locomotives used to move coal from the local mines. It was closed in 1991 by British Rail and due to be demolished, but a society of volunteers – the Barrow Hill Engine Shed Society – was set up to save it.
Now wonderfully restored, the roundhouse includes one of the largest collections of diesel, electric and steam locomotives in the country and holds several open days, galas and concerts throughout the year.
Barrow Hill, Chesterfield S43 2PR Tel: 01246 472450
Buxton Museum and Art Gallery
Discover the geology and archaeology of the Peak District. Explore Buxton through the ages in the Wonders of the Peak time tunnel – where seven environments ranging from a prehistoric forest to an Ice Age cave are recreated – and find out more about the coin hoard discovered in Reynard’s Kitchen Cave in Dovedale in 2014.
The museum’s fine art and photographic collections are joined by a varied programme of exhibitions from contemporary artists.
A major feature is the Boyd Dawkins Study, a period-style study room dedicated to Sir William Boyd Dawkins and Dr J Wilfrid Jackson.
Terrace Rd, Buxton SK17 6DA, Tel: 01629 533540 www.derbyshire.gov.uk/leisure/buxton_museum
Chesterfield Museum and Art Gallery
Exploring the town’s rich historical heritage, from its origin as a Roman fort to its growth as a market town, the museum is located in the impressive Stephenson Memorial Hall, built in 1879 in honour of the town’s most famous resident - railway pioneer George Stephenson.
One of the most important exhibits is a medieval builders’ wheel used for the construction of Chesterfield Parish Church (famed for its crooked spire) in the 14th century. It stands at around 20ft high and dominates the entrance to the galleries, where there’s an excellent collection of local artefacts.
St Mary’s Gate, Chesterfield, S41 7TD, Tel: 01246 345727
The caves of Creswell were first occupied by Neanderthal tribes almost 50,000 years ago and were the most northerly places in Britain to be visitied by ancestors of modern man during the last Ice Age.
Ever since Victorian archaeologists began excavating the caves, numerous tools and spear-heads have been unearthed – including the only examples of Ice Age cave art in Britain.
The dramatic limestone gorge is tucked away in undulating limestone landscape on the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border and includes a state-of-the-art museum and education centre, wildlife reserve and country park.
Crags Road, Welbeck, Worksop S80 3LH Tel: 01909 720378
Derby Museum and Art Gallery
With a diverse range of nationally and internationally important collections, the museum includes the largest public display of Joseph Wright oil paintings in the world. The celebrated 18th century artist was born in Derby and the Study Centre at the museum includes drawings, prints, letters and other information relating to his life and work.
It is also home to some of Derby’s best kept artefacts and treasures including an Egyptian Mummy and a large display of Royal Crown Derby.
The Strand, Derby, DE1 1BS Tel: 01332 641901
Located in a Georgian family home, the museum includes fascinating exhibition galleries that tell the story of Erewash and its people from the Roman period up to the 21st century. Themes range from local industry such as coal mining to how the Victorians lived and worked.
Particular highlights are the War Gallery, which explores how conflicts have impacted the local community, and the fully-furnished Victorian Schoolroom. The garden has unrivalled views of the Erewash Valley.
A lively events offering – for which the museum has won numerous awards - includes events such as ‘Swing Back to the 40s Day’, themed activities and fairs.
High Street, Ilkeston, DE7 5JA Tel: 0115 907 1141
Dedicated to the famous ‘Plague Village’, the museum contains artefacts, interpretation panels and documents covering the social and industrial development of Eyam, plus the geology and pre-history of the surrounding areas.
There is special emphasis on the plague outbreak of 1665-66, when the villagers chose to quarantine themselves from the outside world to prevent the spread of infection in a harrowing tale of self-sacrifice.
The ‘Eyam Connections Room’ includes temporary displays with a local theme, whilst a new, excellently put-together display commemorates the outbreak of WW1. The collection contains a projected model of an Eyam soldier and artefacts from the Great War.
Hawkhill Road, Eyam, Derbyshire. S32 5QP Tel: 01433 631371