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CATHEDRAL QUARTER TRAIL – NUMBER 1
The opening of Westfield Centre at Derby on the 9th October 2007 brought about a dramatic change to shopping in the city. Sleek floor to ceiling shop fronts, changing mood lighting and the names of top brand stores seemingly everywhere certainly made a very big impression on over 150,000 first-day visitors. News headlines in the Derby Evening Telegraph the following day - VIPs all agree: The Westfield centre moves city up into the big league – seemed to capture the mood of the people.
There is though, as local people know and visitors will find out, much more to the Derby shopping experience. From seeking out hidden gems in The Lanes to enjoying the unique quality of The Cathedral Quarter with its arcades, hidden entrances, numerous specialist stores and independent retailers, which makes it such an exciting place to shop.
Exploration of the Cathedral Quarter will reveal a wide range of designer and vintage clothes, shoes, gifts, books and crafts from across the globe. Contemporary art galleries and interior design stores combine with specialist retailers, including music, electrical and gadget shops. There are luxury beauticians and contemporary hairdressing salons for those who want to be pampered.
The Quarter is a great place to eat and drink, with the tempting aroma of pastries and fresh coffee helping to create a vibrant café culture. There is also a wide variety of restaurants, serving cuisine from around the world. At nights the area is particularly lively with traditional pubs and modern wine bars bustling with activity.
If you are looking for entertainment and culture, the Assembly Rooms and Guildhall Theatre offer everything from plays and concerts to pantomimes. At the Quad, two cinema screens showing the best in independent, world and Hollywood cinema will soon operate. It is also scheduled to incorporate two contemporary art galleries and other community projects.
Derby City Museum and Art Gallery houses the prestigious Joseph Wright collection of paintings, including 18th century portraits, landscapes, industrial scenes and scientific equipment. A programme of special exhibitions support permanent displays relating to the city’s archaeology, history and wildlife. The Ceramics Gallery provides an additional attraction.
The Silk Mill – Derby’s Museum of Industry and History is now a World Heritage Site. This was the first factory in England where all the processes were carried out under one roof and utilising one source of power. Today, the building has been converted into a museum, with special emphasis on the development of Rolls-Royce aero engines and the railway industry. There are a number of other displays covering local industries, including mining, pottery and foundry work. The story of motive power in industry is covered in the Power Gallery.
With more listed buildings in Derby than in York, it is not surprising to find so many impressive buildings in the Cathedral Quarter, which is best explored at leisure. Over the next three months YesterdayToday will publish trails, highlighting just a few of the gems the quarter has to offer. If you want more information the Tourist Information Centre in the Market Place is the place to visit, where illustrated guides and books about the city are available. To dig even deeper, then the Local Studies Library on Iron Gate is where you need to go.
There is so much more to admire about the Cathedral Quarter than can be possibly squeezed into the three trails published by YesterdayToday (April/June). So give yourself plenty of time as you will also discover some little gems amongst the shops, service providers and cafes that you never knew existed even if you are a regular visitor.
CATHEDRAL QUARTER TRAIL – NUMBER 1
Using the Tourist Information Centre has the starting point of the trail, walk between the centre and the newly erected Derby Quad building.
The Quad centre due to open during the summer of this year will house two contemporary art galleries, two cinema screens, workshop space for community focused arts events and activities, a café and a whole lot more. About six computers will give access to over 2,000 items of film and moving image on archive, making it a regional centre for the East Midlands. A series of internationally significant exhibitions have been planned for the first six months of the opening period and it is anticipated that Quad will attract more than 100,000 visitors to the city each year.
Cross the road and walk towards the river, turning left down a short flight of steps onto the path by the River Derwent, if the path is closed due to building work, return to the roundabout and go right up Full Street to reach Cathedral Green and the Silk Mill . Rising at Swains Greave between Bleaklow and Howden Moors, it flows south through Derbyshire for its entire journey before merging with the River Trent at Shardlow. More than any other river its waters have played a vital part in driving mill machinery, placing Derbyshire at the forefront of the Industrial Revolution.
In December 2001, the 15 mile stretch of the Derwent Valley from Matlock Bath to Derby was designated by UNESCO as a cultural World Heritage Site. The citation states: ‘The cultural landscape of the Derwent Valley is of outstanding significance because it was here that the modern factory system was established to accommodate the new technology for spinning cotton developed by Richard Arkwright. The insertion of industrial establishments into a rural landscape necessitated the construction of housing for the workers in the mills, and the resulting settlements created an exceptional industrial landscape that has retained its qualities over two centuries.’
Cathedral Green came into being when the Power Station that stood on the site previously was demolished. A £3.8m regeneration of the green is currently taking place designed to make the area more visitor friendly. An events area and a footbridge across the river are included in the improvements.
The bronze equestrian Bonnie Prince Charlie Statue on the green, was presented as a gift to the city by Lionel Pickering, a local benefactor, and was the first equestrian statue to be created anywhere in Britain since the war. It celebrates the 250th Anniversary of the ’45, when following the arrival of Bonnie Prince Charlie and his Jacobite army, in Derby on the 4 December 1745, an important decision in British history was made. On the previous day, the prince had been advised by his generals to withdraw and return to Scotland. They were not happy being so far into enemy territory without the expected support of the English Jacobites, and doubtful that the planned French invasion to support the venture would take place.
An advanced force had secured Swarkestone Bridge and the decision to withdraw was made against the wishes of the Prince, who wanted to press on towards London. If this line of action had been followed the course of British history could well have been changed. Many historians now think the Jacobites might have met with little opposition had they continued their march, and succeeded in recapturing the throne for the Stuarts. London itself was in panic with many people fleeing the capital while King George II had already made his own plans to escape.
In 1702, the engineer, John Sorocold, built the first Silk Mill on an island site in the River Derwent but it was not a success. The problem was that the silk produced could not rival the fine silk imported from Italy, the manufacture of which was a closely guarded secret. John Lombe travelled to Piedmont in Italy, in order to study the skills and technology involved, secretly making drawings which he managed to smuggle out of the country. Then together with his step-brother, he arranged for Sorocold to build an impressive five storey factory powered by water from the Derwent. It was the first factory in England where all the processes were carried out under one roof and utilising one source of power. It employed about 300 people and established Derby as the first industrial town in the country. Disaster struck in 1910, when the factory was largely burnt down, but it was rebuilt and today serves as Derby’s Museum of Industry and History.
Inside the museum is a model, first made for Derby Museum and Art Gallery in 1938, which shows the town just before the building of the large textile factories. The exceptions are the ‘Italian Works’ and doubling shop built for the Lombe Brothers. It is well worth visiting the museum to view this model after reading this feature, if you are not familiar with the layout of the town at that time.
The museum gives special emphasis to the development of Rolls-Royce aero engines and the railway industry. There are a number of other displays covering local industries, including mining, pottery and foundry work. The story of motive power in industry is covered in the Power Gallery.
Leave the museum and walk up the access road, and keep straight on past the Old Silk Mill public house. The first records of the existence of the pub by name, are dated 1874. It is likely however that the pub dates back much further to the years when Sir Thomas Lombe's historic silk mill was fully operational. The old inn was demolished in 1924, and replaced on a slightly different site by the present half timbered building. A mural takes up the whole of one of the external walls. It was painted in 1986, depicting the Silk Trades' Lockout of 1833/4, when hundreds of newly-joined trade unionists found themselves locked out because of their membership of the Grand National Consolidated Trade Union.
In November 1833, a silk manufacturer sacked a man who refused to pay a fine for poor workmanship. As a result eight hundred workers went on strike in support of their colleague and when other mill workers followed, the employers retaliated by refusing to employ any union members. By 4th December, there were 1300 workers out; and by February over 2000, while the owners kept the mills running with unskilled non-union labour.
Derby saw its first pickets and several men were arrested and one was given three months imprisonment. The strike pay of seven shillings per man had run out in March, and strikers began to drift back to work. On Monday, 21st April 1834, the final strikers asked to be re-instated, although over 600 found their services no longer required.
At the traffic lights at the top of the road turn right along Queen Street, past the former St Michaels’s Church. One of the smaller town churches in existence from at least the 11th century, along the ancient north–south route. In the 17th and 18th centuries the churchyard contained the cistern to George Sorocold’s ingenious system of providing drinking water to the townspeople by means of a network of wooden pipes. The medieval church collapsed in 1856, and its replacement ceased to operate for religious purposes in the 1970s. Since then it has been sympathetically converted into architect’s offices by Derek Latham.
As you turn left at the road junction into King Street, you cannot help but notice the Flower Pot public house. Originally a three storey house built about 200 years ago, it was converted into a pub a few years afterwards. The origin of the name came as a result of Flower Shows being held in the nearby Drill Hall. The pub, having been extended into the property next door, is deceptively spacious inside. It is both a real ale and music pub - but the latter is kept separate to provide an area of comparative peace and quiet. The sign is very curious, and is listed in a review of unusual pub signs in the Midlands.
Turn left down Chapel Street passing Derby Dance, which is the only dedicated dance house in the East Midlands, providing two dance studios, conferencing facilities, a café bar and two distinct performance spaces. At the Déda Theatre, dance and theatre performances take place, and at the Cube, a programme of comedy, music and literature is presented. Through diverse performances, alongside a class curriculum featuring over 40 classes a week and an extensive community development programme, Derby Dance is a unique arts venue in the heart of the city.
Continue to the bottom of Chapel Street, turn left and follow Cathedral Road round heading back to Queen Street. Turn right in front Dolphin public house, which is Derby's oldest surviving pub, first licensed in 1530. It is a fine example of a timber-framed building. The Dolphin was a well known Christian symbol in medieval days, which gives credibility to the presumed date of the founding of the pub. An old coaching inn, it is said to have been a stopping-off point for highwaymen including Dick Turpin. Recently, a hidden room was discovered on the first floor of the pub. A corridor in the pub was once a Derby street! Several ghosts reputedly haunt the pub, which is a regular calling place for 'Ghost Walks' organised by local celebrity Richard Felix, who stars in the TV series 'Most Haunted'.
Visible from a distance, Derby Cathedral dominates the skyline with its impressive Perpendicular Tower, the second highest in England to the Boston Stump. It was built early in the 16th century, but worship has taken place on this site since the tenth century. Light and spacious inside, the iron screen by Robert Bakewell is an inspirational masterpiece in this proud and beautiful building. It became Derby Cathedral, in 1927 and with its story going back to the tenth century, splendid architecture, medieval tower, Bess of Hardwick's Monument, Joseph Wright's Tombstone, the Bakewell Screen and much more, the Cathedral Church of All Saints, offers a unique visitor experience.
On the other side of the road the Derby Cathedral Centre, was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in November 2003. There is a well stocked shop, a coffee shop and a garden planted to represent a journey through the life of Jesus. Treasures from the Cathedral are displayed in the basement, together with ever-changing art exhibitions. The Coffee Shop, on the ground floor, serves light lunches, sandwiches, cakes and a wide range of tea and coffee; it sources most of its supplies locally. It was the winner of the Best Tea/Coffee Shop in the 2004 Derbyshire Food and Drinks Awards,
Twenty-four Iron Gate, now the premises of an estate agent was the home from 1737, of John Whitehurst the well-known horologer, scientist and philosopher. He was one of the foremost scientists of his day and a founder member of the Lunar Society, Born on 10 April 1713, he was the eldest son of John Whitehurst a clock maker from Congleton. His interest in geology was fostered by his father in long walks in the Peak District. As a clock maker and engineer, Whitehurst's innovations included the round dial long case clock. It later served as a photographer’s studio
Richard Keene who was born in London on 15 May 1825, moved with his family to Derby three years later, when his father took up an appointment as manager of Frost's Silk Mill. He was educated in Derby and after being apprenticed to a firm of printers in Ashbourne, he moved to London to learn about the publishing and bookselling trade. In 1851, he returned Derby to set up as a printer, publisher and bookseller, in the same premises in Iron Gate once occupied by John Whitehurst.
It was not long before he developed an interest in photography, taking many scenes in Derby and Derbyshire. To facilitate this, and provide a studio, the roof was removed and the present glass structure substituted. In time, photography dominated his business and Richard Keene & Co became known for high quality topographical views. At the time of his death in 1894, he had won 34 major awards, taken commissions from the Royal Family and was President Elect of the Photographic Convention of the United Kingdom.
Set back from the road under the archway is Derby Local Studies Library, where there are over 100,000 items available to consult within the library. A small selection of items is available for visitors to browse, but the main collection is 'behind the scenes' and is available on request. There are microfilm machines to view newspapers and census details, and microfiche machines to view the index of births, deaths and marriages.
Iron Gate is one of the principal streets in the Cathedral Quarter and traditionally the City’s shopping area. In the 1700s, the street was described as 'consisting of inns and shopkeepers' and this still applies today. Iron Gate is home to Bennetts, Derby’s prestigious independent departmental store. The street was widened in 1869 by the demolition of the shops and inns on the eastern side of the street and rebuilt over a period of twenty years.
Iron Gate House was built by Samuel Crompton in the early 18th century; his father founded Derby’s first bank in 1685. The ground floor remained as a bank until another one was built next door, which has been converted into a pub, rather appropriately named the Standing Order.
Opened in the mid 1990s, it had previously been occupied by the NatWest Bank. It is a fine Grade II listed building, originally erected in the 1870s for Crompton and Evans Union Bank. The banking hall, said to have been the finest in the Midlands, has been impressively opened out by the current owners. It contains a good deal of interesting historical detail sympathetically displayed.
Jorrocks public house, originally The George Inn was built around 1648 and, during that era, was one of the most famous and busiest coaching inns in Derby. The London to Nottingham stage coach ran from the George from 1735, and in 1766 the Post Office coach also ran from the inn. It had a wider facade at that time, and in 1693, included the part now occupied by Foulds music shop. The yard at the rear of the inn, was once used for cock fighting and a balconied extension was built so that patrons could watch that and similar events. The pub is said to be haunted by several ghosts, including a long-haired man wearing a blue coat who has been seen in the dead of night walking along the landing and down the stairs into the bar area where he disappears. There have been many strange occurrences, crockery moves itself from the shelves in the kitchen but does not break, and a human groan has also often been heard. A favourite calling place for ghost hunters!
On reaching the Market Place, turn left and walk back to the starting point of the trail.
A view of the Guildhall from the north side of the Market Place, just before turning up Iron Gate.
Go to Page 2 Heritage Walk Map
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