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Derby has played an influential role in the railway industry for more than 150 years. The station was one of the first to open in the country and has always held a very important position in the rail network. Midland Mainline, which manages seven stations around the country, is based in Derby and Bombardier the only company that still makes trains in the UK, is located in Litchurch Lane.  

It was on the 30 May 1839 that the first railway train steamed into Derby. The excited crowds watching the train’s arrival little realised how this event would change the face of Derby. Initially, three railway companies operated from Derby, until 1844, when they amalgamated to form the Midland Railway.

The location of the station was a compromise between the town council, who wanted it sited closer to the centre, and the railway companies who wanted it further away to reduce the possibility of flooding and the cost of land. The site eventually selected was one mile to the south of the town, only about one third of which actually lay within the borough, the remainder being in the small township of Litchurch.

This caused some problems, particularly over policing, until Litchurch became part of Derby in 1877. The station built by Thomas Jackson and designed by Francis Thompson, was opened on the 30 May 1839, when the first ever train to reach Derby steamed into the station amidst a carnival atmosphere. Originally thought to be too large for requirements, it soon became very busy and took full advantage of its excellent location on the railway network.

All this hectic activity attracted swarms of workers from every part of the country and in 1851 records showed that 43% of the adults in the town had been born outside the county. Most had jobs in the railway works, but others were employed by companies that sprang up because of the railway’s arrival and the Midland’s expansion from a provincial company into the third largest in Britain, before the amalgamation into the LMS in 1923.  

It became known as the Derby Midland Station (1) in 1878 when the Great Northern Railway opened its Derbyshire and Staffordshire Extension, with a station at Friar Gate. In the early 1980s British Rail decided to replace it with a modern station. The coats of arms of the Midland Railway and of the City of Derby were put on the new frontage. The clock (2) that stood at the entrance to the original station was moved to the north end of the station car park.

Derby Midland Station

In order to meet the requirements of travellers, the Midland Hotel (3) was built to a high standard by Thomas Jackson, the Pimlico builder, to the design of Francis Thompson, the Midland Railway architect.  It was the first purpose-built railway hotel in the country, and is still one of the finest hotels in the city.

Originally, it was known as Cuff’s Midland Hotel, Cuff also being the manager of the station refreshment rooms. In 1862, it was purchased by the railway company and became the Midland Hotel. It was sold again 120 years later to private enterprise and underwent a substantial facelift. Many famous people, including Queen Victoria in 1849, have stayed at the hotel, which was intended for first class passengers.

Ten years after the arrival of the railway, the Railway Institute (4) was founded as a Reading Room for Midland Railway employees. The present building dates back to 1892, when the decision was made to remove several houses to accommodate the new cultural centre for railway workers, that at one time contained a library of over 14,000 books. In addition, there were several other rooms set on one side for recreation as well as reading, including a lecture and concert hall, billiards room, classrooms and a coffee room. The Waterfall (5) is located in the modernised building and incorporates a café-bar and conference and banqueting facilities.

Midland Hotel

Railway Institute

To accommodate the more senior Midland Railway staff, Jackson and Thompson built a triangular block of streets. They were called North Street (now Calvert Street), Midland Place and Railway Terrace, and became known as the Railway Cottages (6). If you take the initial letter from the three streets, NMR results, that stands for North Midland Railway.

The two smaller squares, Leeds Place and Sheffield Place, continue the railway theme as they were called after cities on the line. This was the first development of its kind in the country and when, in 1970, it was decided to demolish it, there was strong opposition to the plan. Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust stepped in with a modernisation plan and the Council dropped their proposals.  

The Brunswick Railway and Commercial Inn (7) opened in 1842, intended for the use of railwaymen and second class passengers. After a long period of inactivity, the Brunswick re-opened in 1987, following restoration work undertaken on behalf of the Derby Civic Society and the Derbyshire Historic Buildings Trust.

Railway Cottages (above)

Brunswick Railway and Commercial Inn (right)

The former site of Derby’s railway manufacturing business that at one time employed nearly 6,000 people, became derelict in the early 1990s. Following the clearance of the site and the installation of services, the regeneration of the area, known as Pride Park (8) was so successful that, in early 2004, the site was declared ‘Full’.

The Meadows (9) is situated on the other side of the river and, as the name suggests, was originally farmland. But with the arrival of the railway in 1839, the land was taken over by the railway industry and became known as Chaddesden Sidings. In recent years, sand and gravel has been extracted from the site for the building industry. 

William Barron and Son of Borrowash laid out Alvaston Park (10) in 1913 for the Earl of Harrington. The lake was added after the First World War. The former Wilmorton College, later Derby College, was situated to the west of the park. It was built on a former tip in the 1960s, on land that used to belong to Osmaston Hall. The hall was the home of the Fox and Wilmot-Horton family from which the college got its name. The college has recently been demolished and is being replaced by City Point (11) a housing development.

Alvaston Park

Pride Park (13), Derby County Football Club’s impressive stadium, proudly forms the centrepiece of the development whose name it bears. The stadium was opened by HM the Queen, on 18th July, 1997. Unfortunately, the first league match at the stadium, against Wimbledon FC, ended in embarrassment when the match had to be abandoned due to floodlight failure.

Representative football came to Pride Park for the first time in February 1999 when England Under 21s played the French Under 21 team. This was followed in May 2001 by a full-international mach, England versus Mexico, played in front of what was, at the time, a record crowd for the stadium.

Following a number of years of decline and serious financial problems, a consortium of local business people took over the club at the end of the 2005/6 season and has overseen a remarkable transformation. The club is now on a sound financial footing and under a new manager, Billy Davies, the results on the pitch have been outstanding and promotion achieved to the Premiership.

At the rear of the Park-and-Ride car park is ‘The Sanctuary’ (12) a bird and wildlife reserve. It was formerly a gas works tip, and had long been protected from development as part of the “green wedge” policy of Derby City Council. However, it was not until 2001 that the importance and potential of this site was fully appreciated, as the work to create the Pride Park business site came to a close. The site has deliberately been kept quite bare and devoid of trees, which attracts birds like the skylark, meadow pipit, the common tern and many other species. Access is not possible onto The Sanctuary itself. All main features can be easily viewed from a number of points around the perimeter fencing, all accessible from the car park. This is open Monday-Saturday 7am to 7pm, but closed on Sundays and home match days.

Derby Roundhouse (14), which remains substantially intact, is part of the earliest railway works in Britain. The works were a joint project of the Midland Counties Railway, the North Midland Railway and the Birmingham & Derby Junction Railway, and were begun in 1839. The historic No 1 Engine Roundhouse, built by Francis Thompson in 1840, forms part of a group of buildings dating back to the birth of the railway era in Derby. The best view of the Roundhouse can be obtained by making a slight detour from the route described. Leave the side of the Derwent and walk back for a short distance alongside Pride Parkway towards the roundabout and look to your right.  

The Alexandra Hotel (15) is named after HRH Princess Alexandra, who married the future Edward VII on the 10 March 1863. It became the birthplace of Derby CAMRA in 1974, but despite this it was closed for demolition in 1987. For two years it remained boarded up before being rescued by Bateman’s Brewery. It is Derby’s only Real Ale pub offering accommodation.  The Victoria Inn (16) has been a popular haunt for up and coming bands for many years and is a very popular venue on the live music scene. Like the Alexandra it was threatened with demolition, but following a determined campaign it survived.

Victoria Inn (above)

Alexandra Hotel (left)


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An independent profile of a city surrounded by beautiful countryside, situated at the heart of Britain.

A city of considerable character, surrounded by attractive countryside. With the Peak District National Park, the second most visited National Park in the world, only a few miles to the north and the National Forest a short distance away to the south.

Located near the centre of the country, Derby has excellent communications and is well served by road, rail and air. The city lies at the junction of the main A6, A38 and A52 roads and junction 25 of the M1 is 15 minutes drive away. East Midlands Airport is an easy 12 miles drive to the south east of Derby.

River Derwent


Derby is a great place for shopping. The centre is compact and pedestrian-friendly, there are a wide range of shops, from well known high street names to specialist retailers. 


Markets are held at the Eagle Centre and in the Market Hall from Monday to Saturday. Allenton Market operates on Fridays and Saturdays with a Flea/Craft Market on Tuesdays. Farmers' Markets are held on the third Thursday of the month. Cattle Market Car Boot Sales take place every Sunday.

Original Station Clock


The Assembly Rooms has non-stop programme of concerts, shows and events. Shows and concerts are held at the Guildhall, Derby Playhouse has a full programme (subject to review) of musicals, contemporary and classic drama. Numerous pubs and clubs also offer live entertainment.

The Metro Cinema (now at Derby University - moves to Quad during 2008) offers a culturally driven schedule of films. The Odeon and Showcase Multiplex cinemas, both operate on the outskirts of the city centre.


Alvaston Park is a large attractive park, located about two miles to the south of Derby. It is linked to the city centre by a riverside path suitable for both walkers and cyclists. The path provides an important recreational route through Derby to the south.

Pride Park Football Stadium (0870 444 1884) the home of Derby County Football Club, provides behind the scenes tours of the stadium, which will impress the visitor whether they are a football fan or not. Please telephone for bookings and full tour details.

Royal Crown Derby Visitors Centre (01332 712800) established in 1756, now exports fine china all over the world. The Royal Crown Derby Visitor Centre, shop and restaurant facilities are open to the public daily and factory tours are available during the week.


Midland Railway Station the café and bar at the railway station buffet have been refurbished. Hot and cold food is available on a daily basis. 

Brunswick Inn (Tel. 01332 290677) is situated on the western side of the Midland Railway Station, at ‘Number 1’ Railway Terrace. The inn was opened in 1842, intended for the use of railwaymen and second class passengers. It was originally called 'The Brunswick Railway and Commercial Inn'. It was the first purpose built railway inn and remained in the ownership of the railways for 105 years. Open daily. Food served.


A special new sub-section has been added to website, based on the Discover Derby Supplement, published by the Derby Evening Telegraph during March 2005. The most recent additions are:

 Click below for details.

Discover Derby




For centuries the pub has been the place where friends, families, colleagues and people wanting companionship meet. A pub is a place where people gather to celebrate,  do business, play games or just to seek quiet relaxation.


Changes in the law have now made the pub a place for families. The pub is re-establishing itself as the place to eat, a tradition that all but disappeared after the last war.


Many of the pubs in Derby City Centre provide meals and nearly all serve hot drinks.



Test your knowledge on Derby Pubs by having a go at the Pub Challenge, before viewing the profiles of 25 city centre pubs.


Derby Pubs


Derby Pub Challenge



The Railway Institute was built in 1892, as a new cultural centre for the benefit of railway workers. It had a library, coffee room, three classrooms, lecture and concert hall and other rooms for recreation and reading. By the 1980s, it had been leased off to the Post Office Social Club, but that closed in 1994.

Following the failure of plans to convert it into a arts centre, it was opened as a pub in 1996.    

Curiosities:  At one time the extremely well stocked library contained more than 14,000 books. When the library closed in 1963, the books were either sold or given away to members.  

Waterfall Pub

Pride Parkway

The Meadows


City Point Housing



A bird and wildlife reserve



Number 1

Number 2 

Number 3 


All details on this page were correct at the time of publication, but changes may be made without notification.