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Ian Jackson

Cultural and Museum Studies, University of Nottingham

Thesis title:

Climate change mitigation: Learning from the past to unlock the hydropower potential of the Derbyshire Derwent Catchment.

Waterpower has been an important resource, supplying mechanical, and recently electrical, energy for thousands of years. Facing the challenge of climate change, hydroelectric power (HEP) is a potential mitigation opportunity.  However, in England HEP is no longer being considered as an additional source of renewable energy by central government and other key stakeholders, despite infrastructures still being in place. In recent years, potential HEP projects in the Derwent Valley, Derbyshire, have failed following the removal of subsidies, planning issues and more challenging environmental regulation.

The aim of the research is to understand why some watermill sites have continued to harness the power of the River Derwent for over 240 years, whilst other sites on the same river haven’t, including some sites removing HEP turbines to take their electricity from the 1950-60s built coal-fired power stations instead.

HEP faces many obstacles today, but by researching the development and use of waterpower in the 18th and 19th centuries, valuable lessons may be learnt about the need to work collaboratively, to use water resources effectively and balance the need to maintain a healthy river eco system, identifying win-win solutions to climate change, finite resources, and nature conservation challenges.

Research Area

  • Cultural and Museum Studies
  • Cultural Geography




  • North East Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology Society - NEDIAS Newsletter 87, August 2022
    Waterpower in the Derwent Valley: Learning from the past




  • Lessons from the past: Unlocking Hydro potential.
    British Hydropower Association Annual Conference, Glasgow Nov 2023


  • Historic watermills: Lessons for a greener future.
    British Hydropower Association Annual Conference, Glasgow Nov 2022
  • Lessons from the past to RE:Power the Derbyshire Derwent valley.
    London School of Economics & Polictical Science, Shifting Landscapes PhD Conference Jun 2022
  • Repowering the Valley: Past, Present and Future of Waterpower in the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritgae Site.
    New Lanark: A Living Legacy Anniversary Conference Mar 2022
  • Lessons from the past to RE:Power the Derbyshire Derwent valley.
    Natural Horizons Symposium (M4C) Feb 2022


  • RE:Power the Valley: Climate change mitigation: Learning from the past to unlock the hydropower potential of the Derbyshire Derwent catchment.
    RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2021

Public Engagement & Impact

Talks to Derbyshire communities and hydro stakeholders

  • Waterpower in Derbyshire: Past, present and future - Derbyshire MP's (Masson Mills)
    • Derbyshire Dales and Amber Valley, May 2024
    • Mid Derbyshire and South Derbyshire, April 2024
  • Hydroelectric Power in the Derbyshire Derwent catchment - Midlands Net Zero Hub, April 2024
  • Hidden Power - Historic England, March 2024
  • Waterpower in the Derbyshire Derwent Catchment - DDCP steering group, February 2024
  • Waterpower: Lessons for a greener future - DVMWHS Technical Group, July 2023
  • Belper Waterpower 'Walk and Talk' - Belper Historical Society, June 2023
  • Belper South Mill: A hidden gem - Belper Civic Service, March 2023
  • Waterpower lessons from the Derwent Valley Mills - Georgian Derbyshire Festival, September 2022
  • Powering the Derbyshire Derwent Valley - Derbyshire Archaeological Society, March 2022
    • Report of talk published DAS Newsletter June 2022.
  • Power from the Valley: Past, Present & Future - Midland Mills Group, January 2022
    • Report of talk published Midland Mills Group Newsletter 132 (April 2022)
  • Repowering the Derbyshire Derwent catchment - Belper Historical Society, January 2022
  • RE:Power the Valley: Hydropower in the Derbyshire Derwent catchment – Darley Abbey Historical Group (with questions related to the Darley Abbey Mills), September 2021
  • RE:Power the Valley: Waterpower in the Belper Mills – Sudbury Gas Works Restoration Trust, April 2021

M4C Placement with Severn Trent Water (part time November 2022 to March 2023)
  • Hydroelectric Power within the STW assets in the Derbyshire Derwent catchment, Past, Present and Future.

Other Research Interests

  • The Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site
  • Waterpower, past, present and future
  • Sustainability and Resilience
  • Community Energy
  • Renewable Energy


  • Transition Belper
  • Belper Historical Society
  • Arkwright Society
  • Derbyshire Archaeological Society
  • Peak District Mines Historical Society
  • Midland Wind and Watermills Group
  • Association for Industrial Archaeology
  • Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)
  • Energy Institute
  • Institute of Mechanical Engineers (CEng)