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About Belper... historic mill town
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Belper is a small market town on the River Derwent approximately 10 miles north of Derby. The town has a history dating back to Norman times and was originally known for nail making. With the advent of the industrial revolution the power of the river was harnessed - still evidenced in the impressive East Mill and the older North Mill. Belper is now the central point of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site and much of the older parts are within the Belper and Milford Conservation Area.

The town’s major employer is Vaillant, makers of Glow Worm boilers. Thorntons Chocolate and Deb – makers of Swarfega – had a long history in the town but have, in recent years, relocated to more modern facilities outside the town.
There are approximately 9,600 dwellings in Belper housing a population of around 21,600. Some 800 dwellings are in the social rented sector. 30 per cent of dwellings are detached whilst a quarter are terraced. Belper has seen a rapid expansion over the last 30 years with the building of around 2,800 homes since 1983. Almost as many homes were built before 1919.

In early 2009 there were 2,800 benefit claimants in Belper – more than half of these (1,510) were aged over 60. Just under a quarter of the total population are over 60. The mean household income, at £33,399, is slightly higher than the regional figure of £31,204. The average dual fuel bill for a three bedroom semi is currently estimated at £1,137 per year. There are an estimated 1,035 fuel poor households at a rate of 10.6%. Belper East ward where much of the newer housing is concentrated has the lowest levels whilst Belper Central is nearer the regional average at 13.8%.

More information about Belper and its history can be found here
Our interactive Heritage map of Belper shows World Heritage Site and conservation area boundaries as well as all listed buildings in the area.


photo - the River Derwent at Belper

Derbyshire's longest river, the Derwent, starts as a series of small streams which drain from the large peat mass known as Bleaklow, though its commonly accepted source is at Swain's Greave on Howden Moor.From this point it has 66 miles to go before it joins the Trent just south of Derby.

The name "Derwent" is Celtic and means "a valley thick with oaks".


photo - Belper Mills

Belper's North Mill was completed in 1786 by Jedediah Strutt, but was destroyed by fire in 1803. Its replacement was built in 1804 by his son, William Strutt, on the earlier mills foundations and is one of the oldest surviving example of an industrialised iron framed 'fire-proof' building in the world. The later and larger East Mill sits behind the North Mill.



Bridge over River Derwent as it is today




St John's Chapel

The 13th century St John's Chapel is probably the oldest building in Belper and is now used by Belper Town Council for council meetings and as a heritage centre.

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Belper river gardens

Belper River Gardens

Strutts Centre

The Strutts Centre - formerly the Herbert Strutt School opposite the Babington Hospital on Derby Road. This is the venue for Transition Belper's monthly meeting on the first Tuesday of each month.

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