Derwent Pulse


The first strike of the bell above Arkwright’s Cromford Mill changed time forever. Gone was the time of agriculture, measured by the rise and fall of the sun, the monthly phases of the moon and the passing of the seasons. Arkwright’s bell sounded the first beat of clock time, a precise regularity that listened to nothing but the ever quickening beat of the industrial revolution. Echoed in the rhythm of Arkwright’s Water Frame the chime introduced mass production not only to the Derwent Valley but to the rest of the country and the world beyond. Everything upstream of the Derwent Valley Mills is the past, everything downstream, the future.

Derwent Pulse, a Derwent Valley Mill World Heritage Site commission by Charles Monkhouse, was a light flow the length of the Derwent that explored the river and its heritage.

River worked with all the pupils and staff at Curbar Primary School to create poems and songs that the children performed in October twilight as part of Derwent Pulse. With call and response, incantations and haunting chants they walked the Derwent from Froggatt to Calver, carrying lit globes, and floating them into the water.

Read more about the project on