In 1831, workers were improving the runoff of a nearby cotton factory. This involved building an embankment to separate the runoff from the main river, using gravel from the riverbed.
Workers found several silver coins in the gravel about 60 yards below the bridge that were quietly scattered among themselves. Within a week, the number of coins continued to grow. The further downstream they worked, the more significant were their discoveries. The next week, several thousand coins were received, and they found a cubic yard of coins about 30 yards below the bridge. In one day, two men found five thousand coins five feet down.
Very soon hundreds of people began looking for the coins. often diving waist-deep with a shovel. An estimated 100,000 coins were recovered, although originally about 360,000 coins were in barrels. "Derby Mercury reported that workers were collecting enough coins to earn £10 a day.
Naturally, news spread quickly, as did drunkenness, quarrels, and riots. Eventually the Duchy of Lancaster issued an order prohibiting further searches. After further excavations on behalf of the Duchy, the excavations were filled by order of William IV. This order remains in force and can be seen on display in Tutbury Church.