The creation of
Minack Theatre, hewn out of the granite cliff
to the west of
Penzance in Cornwall,
was the lifetime’s work of a remarkable woman, Rowena Cade. Well worthy of a
mention here? Because, in Minack’s little museum, a list of her family’s
enterprises links her with not only renowned ancestors, but to one of the
Derbyshire cotton mills which Rowena’s father inherited from his mother, making
Rowena Cade a wealthy miller’s daughter.
Known as the Derwent
Mills Valley, a nominated World Heritage Site, the River Derwent’s water power
was harnessed firstly by Richard Arkwright for his pioneering Cromford Mill,
flowing on to later supply Jedediah Strutt’s Belper mill, the Evans brothers’
Darley Abbey mills, Lombe’s Silk Mill, through Derby to Cade’s Mill at Spondon.
The river meanders on through Borrowash to join the River Trent at Great Wilne.
The village of
Spondon had become famous for making silk gloves prior to the Industrial
Revolution; the cottage industry of families working at spinning frames made
gloves and stockings, the silk being delivered from Nottingham and later
returned as wearable items.
Mill Row, a terrace
of stockingers cottages, along with The Homestead, a magnificent Gr 1 listed
building dating to 1740 and noted as one of the finest Georgian buildings in
Derbyshire, are in the village conservation area.
The Homestead had
been the home of Dr. James Cade, a Derby surgeon and descendant of Joseph
Wright, artist, and Sir Henry Fowler, Chief Engineer for the London Midland and
Scottish Railway; all forebears of Rowena’s father, Charles James Cade.
Spondon Mill became
an industrial site in 1916 when it was re-equipped to manufacture waterproofing
for aircraft wings by the British Cellulose & Chemical Manufacturing Company; it
underwent further changes of industry and ownership including British Celanese
and Courtaulds. It is said that several new acetate yarns were developed there.
Lastly, it was owned by Acordis, employing approximately 800 staff on the 360
Rowena Cade was obviously quite a character and the Minack
Theatre has kindly given us permission to reproduce this delightful photograph
of her – looking every bit as though she could have been a member of the HMG
workforce. Sadly, an image of Cade’s Mill was not found.