Rare Arkwright Five Pound Note Comes Home to Masson Mills

Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Newsletter Sept 2004

A rare five pound note issued by the Wirksworth and Ashbourn Bank in 1829, which came up for sale by auction in London in April 2004, has been saved from disappearing overseas by the owner of Sir Richard Arkwright’s Masson Mills.

The owner of Masson Mills had read with interest an article about the banknote in the Matlock Mercury and decided to attend the auction and try to save the note for Derbyshire.

Rare Arkwright Five Pound Note

No. 3420 Wirksworth and Ashbourn. £FIVE
I Promise to pay the Bearer on Demand FIVE POUNDS....

For Richd Arkwright & Compy
FIVE POUNDS Chas Arkwright

“I did not start to bid until near the end of the auction, as there were a few other potential buyers at the beginning,” he said, “but as the bidding went higher only I and a millionaire collector from Jersey were left in. Eventually I bought it for over £3,400 and I feel that it was worth every penny to save this very important piece of Derbyshire’s local history from disappearing from the area, possibly for ever. I would have paid more, as the chance of acquiring something like this might only come up once in a lifetime.”

The banknote, serial number 3420, was issued on 24th August 1829 and is signed by Charles Arkwright, son of Richard Arkwright Junior. The bank was the forerunner of the present Lloyds Bank in Wirksworth and was founded in 1780. Richard Arkwright became a partner in 1804, and took over ownership in 1829 with his sons Peter and Charles. The bank was known locally as Richard Arkwright and Co. At that time, merchants and businessmen would found their own banks and issue their own banknotes, which were a form of I.O.U.

The banknote fortunately now has a permanent, secure home at Masson Mills, where it will join an extensive archive collection on the British Textile Industry and a copy of it will be put on display in the Working Textile Museum…