M4C Logo AHRC Logo

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





  • 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 local history groups

  • 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

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)