Calling Conservation Volunteers

Unique Opportunity to be part of an active conservation project at Derbyshire’s historic Lumsdale Valley (July 3-8)

For one week, conservation experts and volunteer heritage enthusiasts will carry out vital repair work to an impressive and complex time capsule of the Industrial Revolution, ‘lost’ in a wooded valley

Nestled at the heart of a steep and densely wooded valley, the Lumsdale Mills, near Matlock in Derbyshire, are a unique time capsule of industrial heritage with structures dating from the 17th century and earlier. In July (Sunday 3 – Friday 8), Britain’s oldest heritage body, SPAB (Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) will take its annual Working Party to the Lumsdale Valley, enabling volunteers from all walks of life to gain practical experience of conservation while carrying out essential consolidation and repairs at a unique heritage site.

Volunteers with an interest in conservation are warmly invited to join us for a week of ‘hands-on heritage’ activities that will be both informative and fun. See the end of the release for application details. The SPAB Working Party is a unique opportunity to learn from some of the country's leading heritage craftspeople in a relaxed setting. Experts will be on site at all times to guide volunteers through the work.

Hands-on volunteer activities will include: 

  • carefully removing ivy where required
  • repointing and consolidating the ancient stone walls throughout the Lower Bleach Works at the Lumsdale Mills site
  • providing a 'soft cap' to protect newly- repaired ruinous stone walls using locally cut turf
  • carrying out piecemeal roof repairs to two buildings in the Lower Bleach Works.
  • introducing sections of new oak into the original and rotten oak window frames (at the Bleach Works).

Jonny Garlick, SPAB technical officer and working party organiser, says: “This is a wonderful site and we are hugely grateful to the Lumsdale Committee of the Arkwright Society for inviting us and for making us so very welcome. Obviously, we take great care to ensure that everyone will be operating in a safe environment and that the work we will be doing is essential.  But the week really is great fun too for all concerned. It’s a very sociable and enjoyable involving – for our adult volunteers! - evenings at the local pub and group activities. It’s definitely something that we at the SPAB all look forward to each year. It’s a fantastic chance to get out of the city and to put our knowledge into practice.”                                                                                                  

Volunteers will need to attend at least three consecutive days. Basic personal protection equipment will be provided but volunteers should bring their own overalls and stout site boots. You may be expected to camp on a designated camp site but limited bed and breakfast accommodation may be available. There is a £5 booking fee only, plus any charges for extra visits.

Please visit the SPAB website, fill in an application form and return it to us by Friday 16 June: 

If you have any questions about volunteering please email


Notes to editors

For further information contact Kate Griffin, SPAB press office: 0207 456 0905 / 07963 900939 Email: 

Alison McClary, SPAB press office: 0207 456 0908


During the week our Working Party volunteers, specialists and visitors will also have the opportunity to view repair work being undertaken by Stone Edge on the Lower and Upper Bleaching Mills funded as a separate project via a generous Historic England grant.   

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) was founded by William Morris 138 years ago to care for and preserve the UK’s architectural heritage. Since its foundation, SPAB has been committed to maintenance matters, in line with William Morris’ exhortation to: “Stave off decay by daily care.”  Today it is a dynamic organisation, and registered charity (no. 231307), taking building conservation into the future.  To find out more visit