The original part of John Smedley’s mill was built by Peter Nightingale in 1783, who also owned the woods you are walking through. Workers harvested wood from here to make fuel for the Nightingale’s lead smelters, which enabled the family to make their fortune.
Richard Arkwright relied on Peter’s financial support to turn his plans for Cromford Mills into reality. Their relationship soured when it turned from collaboration to competition. Benjamin Pearson, one of Arkwright’s mill managers, helped Nightingale set up his factory at Lea. Determined to build a ‘cottonopoly’ – and outraged by his associates’ betrayal- Arkwright sued Nightingale for stealing his patent.
Programmes like ‘Dragon’s Den’ and Crowdfunding campaigns remind us how entrepreneurs today still rely on sponsors to get good ideas of the ground. What ideas would you pitch? What ideas would you risk a friendship for?