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CATHEDRAL QUARTER TRAIL – NUMBER 3
Taking the Tourist Information Centre as your starting point, cross the Market Place and walk through the archway under the Guildhall clock into the Market Hall.
Located close to the archway is The War Memorial, which is made up of bronze figures on a stone plinth with a stone background cross. It was unveiled on the 11 November 1924, by Alderman Oswald Ling, and repositioned, in 1994, as part of the Derby Promenade street improvement works. Charles Clayton Thompson was the memorial's designer and A G Walker, ARA, was responsible for the carving.
In an area reserved for relaxation, where visitors can sit and rest, The Waterfall provides a most unusual feature. It was constructed as part of the City Council, ‘Derby Promenade’, a scheme that stretched from the Spot to the Cathedral, involving pedestrianisation of the route. The Waterfall came in for a lot of criticism, but not from the younger generation who love it, particularly when the weather is warm and the sun is shining. It has also provided a reason for an annual well dressing to be started in Derby, which seems fitting in a county where the ‘Well Dressing’ still flourishes so strongly.
From the northern side of the Market Place, viewed through an avenue of trees, the Guildhall looks particularly impressive, its vaulted entrance supported by cast iron pillars, with an elegant clock tower dominating the skyline. It was re-built in 1841 by Henry Duesbury, following a fire. The former council chamber with its elaborately plastered ceiling is now occupied by a small theatre.
The Guildhall Theatre, owned by Derby City Council, holds a number of concerts, plays and recitals. On the ground floor a regular programme of exhibitions takes place. Along with the Assembly Rooms, the Guildhall will be hosting the CAMRA Real Ale Beer Festival in 2008 (January and July). Derby is the Real Ale capital of England since its foundation in 1971; CAMRA has been extremely successful in promoting quality, choice and value for money and preventing the takeover of small breweries. No new ale breweries were set up in the UK for the 50 years before CAMRA was founded. There are now around 300 new brewers producing real ale, forming part of a massive real ale revival.
A labyrinth of tunnels and catacombs runs under the Guildhall, used to take prisoners from the old Police Station in Lock-Up Yard to the Assizes, which in Victorian times were held in the Guildhall. Amongst the most remembered to be escorted through the tunnels was Alice Wheeldon, a left wing revolutionary, from Peartree. She was the principal mover behind a plot to assassinate the Prime Minister, Lloyd George, and Arthur Henderson in 1917. She was captured and tried at the Assize Court and given a ten year sentence, while her co-conspirators got lesser terms.
The Borough architect and surveyor designed the covered Market Hall in 1864. It has a spectacular vaulted roof using iron from a nearby foundry. The market opened for business on the 29 May 1866, when it was given a rousing welcome with a gala concert and choir who sang the Messiah. It closed for a short period in 1989 for a major refurbishment, which restored it to its original splendour.
The Market Hall is a fine example of Victorian architecture and at the time of its opening housed 180 stalls on the ground floor and the balcony. It has two other distinct areas, a Poultry Market and a Fish Market in Lock-up Yard. Inside, a wealth of unusual, classic and traditional stalls, shops and café bars await the shopper. Today the Market Hall is a major attraction to the City and brings in visitors and shoppers from throughout this country.
Leave the Market Hall by the doors at the southern end to reach Osnabruck Square, named after Derby’s twin city in Germany. A stone pillar in the centre of the square announces that the German city is 500 miles away. Osnabruck was founded in 780AD, and has many historic buildings and like Derby is close to beautiful countryside. As a result of the twinning arrangements many events have taken place and activities connecting the two cities. The fish market that once stood in the square was demolished in 1981, and re-sited in the Lockup Yard off the Corn Market.
Turn right along Albert Street, which was named after HRH Prince Albert and came into existence when Markeaton Brook was culverted.
At the intersection between the Corn Market and St Peter’s Street, Victoria Street, named after Queen Victoria takes over from Albert Street. This street like its neighbour came into being as a result of the culverting of the Markeaton Brook from St Peter’s Bridge to St James’s Bridge. The former previously known as Gaol Bridge after the gaol in the Corn Market, which had been demolished prior to the culverting, but not before some prisoners in the gaol had died due to the brook flooding.
Although our route lies to the right up the Corn Market, a short detour along Victoria Street will reveal that some of the buildings have interesting curved frontages. The former Debenhams’ Department Store is an excellent example of this design.
As you turn the corner into the Corn Market the street is noticeably wider at the bottom end. This is where the Grain Markets used to be held, samples of the grain being placed in containers sited on posts so that potential buyers could test them before purchase.
Opposite St James Street, in the Lock-up Yard is the Tiger public house. It dates from 1737, when it operated as a coaching inn, and was originally much larger. It was used by travellers between London and Manchester, when the frontage stretched as far as the Corn Market. The building was restored in 1990. It is a popular stopping place for parties on ghost walks. The Tiger Bar provides access for a subterranean trip down into the barrel-vaulted tunnels beneath the Guild Hall, in search of ghosts.
The Lock-up Yard was once the scene of the brutal murder of a policeman. On the 12 July 1879, a Gerald Mainwaring, after drinking heavily, set off driving a horse and trap through the streets of Derby. He was accompanied by a prostitute, Annie Green, and with Mainwaring flogging the pony and both occupants laughing and shouting at passers-by, the police at first tried and failed to check their progress. Eventually the pair were apprehended in the yard of the Traveller’s Rest on Ashbourne Road.
They were taken back to the police station in Lock-up Yard, where they were charged with being drunk and disorderly. Unfortunately they were not searched and when Annie Green took exception to being locked up and hit one of the policemen on the jaw, the officers moved to restrain her. At that point Mainwaring produced a pistol and shot PC Moss, who subsequently died; he also shot at and injured another officer. Mainwaring was sentenced to be hanged, but the decision was made on the toss of a coin by the foreman after the jury had been unable to reach a verdict. This came to the notice of the local paper and the editor contacted the Home Secretary who commuted the sentence to life imprisonment. The Home Secretary ruling that a man should not be hanged based the toss of a coin.
Turn left across St James’ Street, which came into existence after the Markeaton Brook had been culverted. St James’ Lane, which was described in the 1860s as a narrow, unsightly and unsavoury alley, was widened. It was paid for by the building of St James’ Hotel. After completion it was renamed St James’ Street and became an elegant shopping thoroughfare. In the 1990s, the street closed to through traffic and the Corn Market end was paved. In 1869 the General Post Office occupied the corner site with Victoria Street, before being moved further along Victoria Street. The former Post Office’s name is still visible on the front.
At the end of St James’ Street, take the second right turn into the Wardwick. Although the spelling has changed, it is one of Derby’s oldest street names and is recorded in 1085 as Walwick Strete, originally Walda’s Dairy Farm. It was close to the Wardwick that the Mercians first established a village settlement quite distinct and apart from the later Saxon settlement of Derby. A small church dedicated to St Werburgh was built around 700 AD, but it was sited too close to the brook and its foundations became unsafe due to flooding, but a new church was not built until 1601.
The Mechanics’ Institute was established in 1825 and its premises opened in 1837 in the Wardwick, with the intention of providing for the broad educational needs of the working man. There were classes for reading, writing, arithmetic, drawing, music, French and chemistry. A class also met weekly to discuss literary and scientific subjects. The library contained nearly 6,000 volumes and newspapers and periodicals were provided.
The hall was described by local historian Stephen Glover in the following words: “An elegant and spacious room in Grecian style… with fluted pilasters lighted by the windows....a handsome chandelier….ornamented with valuable paintings.” The premises were open from early in the morning until ten at night. Today, the original lecture hall has been converted into a bar-restaurant and all that now remains is the name over a door a few yards from the entrance to the library.
On the opposite side of the road the Wardwick Tavern is a well proportioned three storey inn, built in 1708 for the Alsop family, although parts of an earlier stone building still remain. After the Alsops sold the pub, it was purchased by the Lowes, a well known brewing family, who built a brewery at the rear. This was greatly enlarged by the Alton family when they came into ownership. The brewery buildings were demolished in the 1930s to make way for the Telephone Exchange, which was replaced 40 years later. The premises were used up until the late 1960s, as brewery offices. In 1969, Allied Breweries opened their redundant offices as a pub.
An iron plaque is fixed to the front of the Wardwick Tavern that marks the level the flood waters reached on 1 April 1842; subsequent rises in the level of the street reduces the true impact of the sign. The flood was caused by Markeaton Brook bursting its banks in the days when it flowed on the surface through the town centre. This was exceeded by a similar flood on the 22 May 1932, when the brook burst its culvert causing considerable loss of stock to businesses in the vicinity that used their cellars for storage.
On the corner of Becket Street, the Jacobean House is situated. It is still a magnificent decorative building, despite being much diminished in both size and splendour following its partial demolition in 1855. It was for many years the home of the Gisbourne family and the grounds extended between present day streets, Macklin and Curzon. Built in 1611 of red brick for the Gisbourne family, it was the first brick building built in Derby.
Across the road Museum Square was built in 1879 and financed by Michael Thomas Bass, whose statue stands in the square. He represented Derby Borough in Parliament for 35 years. The statue of Bass by Sir J E Boehm, originally stood in the Market Place.
Bass financed Derby Museum and Free Library (now Central Library), which was built in 1879. The museum houses paintings by the internationally famous, 18th century Derby artist, Joseph Wright (1734-97). It includes portraits, landscapes, subjects from literature and scenes of industry and scientific equipment that represent this exciting period of pioneering discovery. This is the largest collection of the artist's work in any public gallery in the world.
A programme of special exhibitions support permanent displays relating to the city’s archaeology, history and wildlife. The brand new Ceramics Gallery provides an additional attraction. The Bonnie Prince Charlie Room commemorates the important role played by Derby in the Jacobite Uprising of 1745. There are special geology and wildlife features, with a Time Tunnel, walk-in cave, hands-on exhibits and a series of authentic looking Derbyshire wildlife settings. The Military Gallery is currently under re-construction.
The museum's varied temporary exhibition programme provides about 20 different shows annually, ensuring that patrons can plan regular visits and have something new to admire. A school service is supplied and holiday activities for all age groups are available.
Walk through Museum Square and round the corner into the Strand. The entrance to the museum shop, which sells a range of souvenirs, slides, postcards and books on local topics, is on your right. The Strand came into existence when the decision was made to culvert Markeaton Brook from Sadler Gate Bridge to St James’ Bridge, forming a new street in the process.
Continue down the Strand to the Strand Arcade, where you turn left. The Victorian Strand Arcade was created in the early 1870s. It was created in “debased classical style”; to replicate London’s Burlington Arcade from designs by John Story.
After leaving the Strand Arcade, turn right up Sadler Gate (described in Cathedral Quarter Trail No. 2) and continue into the Market Place and back to the start 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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