06 Nov | Lincoln News | Women in Science

Europe’s top honour in cultural heritage

A conservation project at Cromford Mills World Heritage Site, where Professor Belinda Colston has been working with the Arkwight Society, has been recognised with the Europa Nostra Award 2017.

Professor Belinda Colston’s conservation work recognised with Europe’s top honour in cultural heritage, winning the 2017 Europa Nostra Award!

Cromford Mill is an 18th century former cotton-spinning mill in Derbyshire, opened by Sir Richard Arkwright in 1771, and now a World Heritage Site. Following the decline of the cotton milling industry in the early twentieth century, the mill was utilised by the Cromford Colour Company for the manufacture of paint pigments (1920s –1979). This left a legacy of chemical contamination in the 21st century, affecting the material and site of the entire Mill Building 17 (a Grade I listed building). Unused for decades, the building became derelict, but the contamination remained.

For the last 7 years, Professor Belinda Colston (School of Chemistry) has been working with the Arkwright Society as part of the team bringing Building 17 back into contemporary use (The Building 17 Project). Her role has been to develop strategies for removing and/or containing high levels of lead chromate on site (a highly toxic pigment), and to monitor the distribution of contaminants during and after the building/conservation works. Belinda continues to monitor Building 17, and the effectiveness of barriers put in place, now that the building is fully occupied with business tenants, the Arkwright Experience, Exhibitions and Visitors Centre. 

The Building 17 Project is one of 29 laureates from 18 countries recognised for their notable achievements in conservation, research, dedicated service and education, training and awareness raising. Independent expert juries examined a total of 202 applications, submitted by organisations and individuals from 39 countries across Europe. The Europa Nostra Award was presented to the Duke of Devonshire, on behalf of the Arkwright Society, on 19 October 2017.