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DERBY DERWENT RIVER WALK II
The Bridge Chapel (1) on the banks of the River Derwent is one of only six bridge chapels left in the British Isles. It stands beside the 18th century St Mary's Bridge, which replaced a medieval bridge to which the chapel was originally attached. The precise date when the first bridge chapel came into existence is uncertain, but it is likely to have been around the late 13th to the early 14th century, when it was built on the same site as the present chapel.
At the time when the chapel was built, travel was a dangerous occupation with robbery and murder not uncommon and the bridge chapel offered spiritual reassurance to travellers. The chapel also served as a collection point for tolls levied on traffic entering Derby. It was the resident hermit's responsibility to collect the tolls on people and livestock crossing the bridge, the only crossing point of the River Derwent, into the town. The hagioscope, or squint, on the north wall would have been used by the hermit to monitor traffic, as well as by passers-by to see the light indicating the presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
The Silk Mill (2) is part of the Derwent Valley World Heritage Corridor and today serves as Derby’s Museum of Industry and History.
The 250th Anniversary of the ‘45’ was celebrated by the erection of a bronze equestrian statue of Bonnie Prince Charlie (3) on the site where the Power Station once stood, before demolition in 1971. This act recognised the part played by Derby at a defining moment in British History. The statue 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.
Exeter Bridge (4) is a fine stone bridge built in the mid 1800s, to replace an earlier wooden one. It takes its name from the Earl of Exeter whose house stood nearby. The bridge was widened during reconstruction before the Second World War. At the four corners of the bridge, bronze relief panels remind us of notable figures from past generations.
William Hutton, the historian who was born in Full Street on 30 September 1723, whose autobiography gives an important insight into working class conditions in eighteenth century Derby.
The great philosopher Herbert Spencer was a Derby man, born at 12 Exeter Row on 27 April 1820, he was trained as a civil engineer and contributed a report on flood prevention to Derby Town Council in 1842, before becoming world famous for his works on philosophy.
Although Erasmus Darwin was not a Derby man, he lived in the town and its immediate surrounds from 1781 until his death in 1802. One of his homes was in Full Street where he set up a Doctor’s practice.
Joseph Wright, the painter ‘Wright of Derby’ was a pupil at Derby School. Born at 28 Iron Gate in September 1734, Wright wandered Italy before returning to his native town and St Helen’s House. Derby City Museum and Art Gallery, houses the prestigious Joseph Wright collection of paintings, including 18th century portraits, landscapes, industrial scenes and scientific equipment.
Derby River Gardens with Exeter Bridge in the distance and the Council House on the left
The outbreak of Second World War delayed the completion and hand over of the Council House (5). It was requisitioned by the RAF in 1942 and not handed back to the Council for another four years. It was finally officially opened by Princess Elizabeth and her husband, Price Philip in 1949. It is a home to the city’s collection of treasures, which are kept in the Mayor’s Parlour.
The River Gardens (6), created before the building of the Council House, provide a peaceful spot away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. The weir, missed by so many visitors to the city who tend to migrate towards the busy shopping centre, is a particularly attractive feature of the river scene.
Michael Thomas Bass, MP for Derby from 1847 to 1883 was a generous local benefactor. The grandson of the founder of the brewery that bore his name, he gave the land to the town on which the Bass Recreation Ground (7) now stands. His statue stands in front of the Library and Museum, in the Wardwick which he helped to finance.
The Borough architect and surveyor designed the covered Market Hall (8) in 1864. It had a spectacular vaulted roof using iron from a nearby foundry. The galleried Market Hall 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. The Market Hall closed for a short period in 1989 for a major refurbishment.
Excavations have revealed that the Market Place (9) almost certainly did not come into existence until around 1100. An ancient trackway that bisected the town ran along the south side of the Market Place. Rapid expansion took place after the Norman Conquest and other markets sprang up: in the Corn Market grain was traded, at the top end of Friar Gate farm animals were bought and sold along with produce. A market was also developed in the Morledge, where fairs were held.
The Assembly Rooms (10), built by Casson, Conder and Partners between 1973 and 1977, replaced the 17th century Newcastle House and former Assembly Rooms. The façade of the original Assembly Rooms was carefully removed and re-erected at the National Tramway Village at Crich. Concerts, musicals, pantomimes and a varied range of other events take place at the Assembly Rooms every year.
From the northern side of the Market Place, viewed through an avenue of trees, the Guildhall (11) 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. A regular programme of exhibitions takes place on the ground floor.
Francey’s House (12) was built in 1695 for Alderman William Francey, replacing a previous house built by his uncle 55 years previously. An eight bay four storey house, it once had two first floor rooms with frescoed ceilings by Francis Bassano. Lloyds Bank (13) was built by the same builder as Francey’s House at the turn of the 18th century. It was at one time occupied by Bemrose, the well known Derby printing firm. The arrival of the railway in 1839 and the award of the contract to print the timetables and stationery led to them eventually moving to larger premises. They have now grown to such an extent that they are based on both sides of the Atlantic.
Joseph Wright, the famous artist, was born in Iron Gate and an Obelisk (14) on Iron Gate marks the site of his birthplace. Wright was enthralled by science and the Orrery, used to study the movement of planets, which is featured in one of Wright’s most famous paintings, is depicted on top of the marble pillar. There is a display of his work in the Joseph Wright Room at the Derby Museum and Art Gallery.
Visible from a distance, Derby Cathedral (15) 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.
On the other side of the road the Derby Cathedral Centre (16), was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in November 2003. There is a well stocked shop, an award winning 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.
Ye Olde Dolphin Inn (17) is Derby’s oldest pub. First licensed in 1530, it is a fine example of a timber-framed building. Several ghosts reputedly haunt it.
The mural on the wall on the Silk Mill Public House (18) depicts the ‘Derby Turnout’ 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.
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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.
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.
Bonnie Prince Charlie Statue
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.
PLACES OF INTEREST IN THE LOCALITY
Derby Cathedral: (Tel. 01332 341201) visible from a distance, Derby Cathedral dominates the skyline with its impressive Perpendicular Tower, the second highest in England to the Boston Stump. The Cathedral is open on a daily basis throughout the year, the board outside gives details of services. Although normally open from 8.30am to 6.00pm, times may vary on Bank Holidays. Admission is free. The Cathedral Centre and its award winning Coffee Shop are on the opposite side of the road. Ring for further details.
The Silk Mill – Derby’s Museum of Industry and History (Tel. 01332 255308) was the first factory in England where all the processes were carried out under one roof, utilising one source of power and is now a World Heritage Site. It has been converted into a museum where you can discover the facts about Rolls-Royce aero-engines, the history of railways and coal mines and much more. Open daily apart from during the Christmas and New Year Break.
Derby City Museum and Art Gallery (01332 716659) houses the prestigious Joseph Wright collection of paintings. A programme of special exhibitions supports permanent displays relating to the city’s archaeology, history, wildlife and local regiments. The brand new Ceramics Gallery provides an additional attraction. Open daily apart from during the Christmas and New Year Break.
Michael Thomas Bass
Ye Olde Dolphin Inne (Tel. 01332 267711) is located on the corner of Queen Street and Full Street, a few yards to the west of Derby Cathedral. It is Derby's oldest surviving pub, first licensed in 1530, and is a fine example of a timber-framed building. An old coaching inn, it is said to have been a stopping-off point for highwaymen. Recently, a hidden room was discovered on the first floor of the pub. A corridor in the pub was once a Derby street! Meals served all day.
The Cathedral Coffee Shop (Tel. 01332 381685) located on the ground floor, serves light lunches, sandwiches, cakes and a wide range of teas and coffees. Local farm producers are the source of many of the supplies, providing items such as home-made cakes, quiches, breads and ice cream. Open Monday to Saturday 9.30am - 4.30pm.
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WORLD HERITAGE SITE
The Silk Mill – Derby’s Museum of Industry and History - was the first factory in England where all the processes were carried out under one roof and utilising one source of power and is now a World Heritage site. It has been converted into a museum.
CITY CENTRE PUBS
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.
THE OLD DOLPHIN
Derby's oldest surviving pub, first licensed in 1530, it is a fine example of a timber-framed building. An old coaching inn, it is said to have been a stopping-off point for highwaymen. Recently, a hidden room was discovered on the first floor of the pub. A corridor in the pub was once a Derby street!
Sign: The Dolphin was a well known Christian symbol in medieval days, which gives credibility to the presumed date of the founding of the pub.
Curiosities: 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'.
THE SILK MILL
The first records of the existence of the pub, by name are dated 1874. It is likely 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.
Sign: The first silk mill was built on an island in the River Derwent but it was not a success. Later a five-storey factory powered by water from the Derwent was constructed.
Curiosities: 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.
PARKS AND GARDENS
Derby is fortunate in having many fine parks and gardens all within easy reach of the city centre.
There are in fact more than 300 areas of public open space in the city, covering over 2,000 acres of land available for everyone to enjoy.
The Arboretum claims the distinction of being the first public park in England. It was donated to the people of Derby in 1840 by local mill owner Joseph Strutt.
The larger parks have a wide range of facilities that attract both local people and visitors to the city.
Particularly popular are the events, which are staged throughout the year.
These include the popular Darley Park Orchestral Concert in September and the Bonfire and Firework Display on Markeaton Park in November.
DERBY DERWENT RIVER WALKS
All details on this page were correct at the time of publication, but changes may be made without notification.