For centuries, manufacturing has been part of Derby’s DNA. Indeed, the city was home to the world’s first factory almost 300 years ago.
It is an industry that has shaped the city – in both physicality and in character. It has employed generations upon generations of Derby people. It has made the city what it is today.
And that proud tradition of making things continues, although it has since evolved into high-tech manufacturing and engineering.
Today, Derby is home to world-leading manufacturers such as Rolls-Royce and Bombardier, not to mention many more innovative companies involved in producing a host of other things – from pharmaceutical products to parts for Formula One cars.
Derby wins massive lottery grant for new Silk Mill museum
But take a walk around the city centre – what is there that tells you that Derby has this remarkable back story?
What is there that tells you that Derby is one of the global centres for the rail industry, with a history that can be traced back more than 175 years?
Home time for workers at Rolls-Royce’s Nightingale Road factory in the late 1940s
What clues are there that, for more than 100 years, the city has been home to Rolls-Royce?
What is there that tells you the city has made such a massive contribution to the world?
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It is hugely important for Derby to attract new visitors. Those visitors are attracted to places that have an interesting story to tell. Other towns and cities have made great play of their history and capitalised on it.
In equal measure, it is important that people who live in Derby have something they can take pride in.
The Silk Mill stands on the site of the world’s first factory
As with any story worth telling, it needs a good hook – and Derby has one. In fact, Derby has a story that many other cities would sell their grannies to have. But, up until now, it has been underplayed.
Now, all that looks set to be addressed by the city’s new Museum of Making.
It is a project that will finally result in Derby having something that tells the world who we are, where we have come from and what we are about.
This week, plans to create this new museum at the existing Silk Mill, site of the world’s first factory, received a huge financial boost.
Confirmation of funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund is a huge boost for the project
The Heritage Lottery Fund has confirmed that it will be supporting the project with a £9.4 million investment, making it the biggest National Lottery-funded project in Derby to date. A further £2.5 million will be coming from Arts Council England
And £4 million has been also been committed by Derby City Council, £3.65 million of which has been secured through the Local Growth Fund.
It will see the redevelopment of the Silk Mill to create “an inspirational new museum, uniquely made in collaboration with the people of Derby” and is scheduled to open in 2020 in time for the 300-year celebration of the Silk Mill.
According to Derby Museums the Museum of Making will be “inspired by the makers of the past, made by the makers of today and will empower the makers of the future”.
The Museum of Making will aim to inspire future generations
So, the project is not just aimed at the present generation. It is also about inspiring our kids and future generations.
And it will not be a conventional museum, where you pay your money at the door and shuffle round looking at artifacts stuck in glass cases that have been chosen by staff.
Firstly, the Derby public will choose what goes on display. Secondly, the exhibits will be presented in exciting and imaginative ways. And thirdly, it will be accessible to all.
When presented with a history lesson, some of us switch off immediately. The Museum of Making will be designed to fire up our imaginations.
The exhibits will be presented in exciting and imaginative ways
A number of key partners are on board with the project – Derby City Council, the University of Derby, Derby College, the Derwent Valley World Heritage Site and Derby’s largest manufacturer of all – Rolls-Royce.
It has already committed one of its iconic Trent aircraft engines to the new museum, that will represent Derby’s 21st century story of making and innovation.
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Peter Price, deputy group chief engineer, Rolls-Royce, said: “The Museum of Making project will further boost Derby’s credentials as a city where innovative technologies are designed and made.
“More importantly, this gives the city the opportunity to harness Derby’s rich heritage to inspire and encourage young people into STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) education, training and employment, supporting the future success of businesses and communities.”
Rolls-Royce is one of a number of partners backing the Museum of Making
A spokesman for Derby train maker Bombardier said: “‘The green light from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England is great news for the exciting Museum of Making project.
“Derby’s past and present has been about designing and making innovative technology. The project at the Silk Mill can help ensure its our future
The project once complete will reveal the whole building for the first time. It will celebrate Derby’s heritage as a city of makers through its internationally, regionally and locally significant collections and provide public access to all of these collections.
It will provide opportunities for local people to gain new skills and experiences and will aim to raise aspirations of future generations of innovators and makers.
The project will reveal the whole of the Silk Mill building for the first time
This is something absolutely crucial to a city like Derby. If we are to continue as a world-leading manufacturing city, we need to inspire our young people to carry on this proud tradition.
Wayne Hemingway is a leading British designer and co-founder of the National Festival of Making Life.
He said: “Making is part of Britain’s DNA. It’s a story told through the people and the buildings but, as with towns and cities in the UK, it’s a story that is at risk if our young people decide against manufacturing careers and our industries shift their focus abroad.
“Now is the time to inspire a new generation to see what is possible through invention, innovation, skills and risk taking – the making and remaking of real and useful things.
“The Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill is the perfect vehicle to do this, both through the way it is being created via participatory approaches and by utilising unique assets such as the collections, stories, along with local knowledge and skills, to ensure it is relevant to people’s lives.”
Professor Kevin Bonnett, Dean of the College of Arts, Humanities and Education at the University of Derby, said: “The University of Derby is a proud partner in the Museum of Making project and warmly welcomes this investment to highlight the national and international importance of Derby’s industrial heritage, which are a key part of the identity of our city and the wider county of Derbyshire.
“The university is constantly working to increase our contribution to studying and researching this, and the Silk Mill investment is milestone for our cultural heritage and the economic impact that this can bring.”
Derby College is a partner in the Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill project.
The college recently launched the Derby Museum Employer Academy to provide additional work experience and learning opportunities for Travel and Tourism and Creative Arts students based at the Roundhouse and the Joseph Wright Centre.
April Hayhurst, the college’s vice-principal of employer and economic affairs, said: “We are delighted with the funding announcement for the exciting plans for the Silk Mill Museum and congratulate Derby Museums on their well-deserved success.
“Students on the Derby Museums Employer Academy will be involved in the development of this project and we are also in discussions about involving our Professional Construction and Construction students on gaining hands-on work experience as the project develops.
“This is fantastic news for Derby. It will create a world-class visitor destination and hopefully inspire young people to embrace the city’s innovation pedigree and forge their own future careers.”
Source: Derby Telegraph