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Spondon was once a quiet farming village, dating back to at least Anglo-Saxon days. Now it is a prosperous suburb of Derby, bisected by the busy A52 Derby to Nottingham bypass, four miles to the east of the city centre.
Following the Norman Conquest, the manor of Spondon was awarded to Henry de Ferrers, who became one of the largest landowners in the country. A descendant, William de Ferrers gave the church and manor to the Burton Lazars Monastery in Leicestershire. This led to the founding of a leper hospital in the hamlet of Locko, but it was burnt down in the 14th century. Locko Hall and its impressive 300 acre park is now the home of the Drury-Lowe family.
The greatest upheaval in the village’s history came in 1340, when Spondon was nearly wiped out because of a disastrous fire caused by a woman drying malt at the door of a furnace. The fire raged out of control and spread quickly in a high wind. The church was destroyed and almost all the houses suffered the same fate, other than one or two on the windward side of the fire. The devastation was so great that the villagers appealed to the King for support and he granted them relief from the payment of taxes.
The Malt Shovel Inn now stands on the site where the malting house once stood. The fire originated from here, which has led to the claim that it is the oldest site of any public house within Derby. The present inn has been rebuilt twice, parts of which date back to 1680.
Following the fire, the village gradually recovered and although it remained for many years a predominantly farming community, other industries sprang up including basket making, a timber yard (in what was then appropriately called Saw Pit Lane, now West Road), a brick yard, a boot repairers and a blacksmith. The women were kept busy winding cotton onto bobbins. The cotton was delivered weekly to the White Swan Inn from the mills at Darley Abbey.
Prior to the Industrial Revolution, Spondon became famous for making silk gloves. The silk being collected from Nottingham and a week later returned in the form of gloves. All the family were involved in this cottage industry and there were a large number of spinning-frames in the village at that time, some used to make silk stockings.
In 1779, the canal brought some prosperity to Spondon, and the arrival of the railway 60 years later soon made Spondon a popular place to live and a number of large houses were constructed. Senior Railway Officials occupied some of the houses.
There has been an industrial site on the banks of the river Derwent at Spondon since 1916, originally established during the First World War, to waterproof aircraft wings. The site-commenced production under the name of British Cellulose and Chemical Manufacturing Company and since then has operated under various names including British Celanese and Courtaulds. Following a takeover, it is now the home of Acordis, and employs over 800 people at its 360 acre site.
The ‘Old Village’ Conservation Area was designated in 1975, to protect the character and environment of that area. There are some fine Georgian houses in Spondon; in particular, The Homestead a magnificent Grade I listed building, dated 1740 is one of the finest Georgian buildings in Derbyshire. The house has been the home of some notable people including, Dr James Cade, a Derby surgeon and descendant of Joseph Wright the celebrated Derby artist, and Sir Henry Fowler, Chief Engineer for the London Midland and Scottish Railway.
The gate piers at the entrance to where Field House, in Park Road, once stood are of a similar period to those at the former coach house to the Homestead and are of particular architectural interest. In addition, in Park Road, facing The Green is a 16th century merchant’s house, The Grange, with its original timber-framing. Opposite is 18th century Holly Cottage and further down the road Prospect House, a fine Georgian building. West Road contains a number of businessmen’s houses built in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Along Locko Road just beyond the Vernon Arms, is Mill Row, formerly a row of stockingers cottages.
St Werburgh’s Church, heavily restored in 1826 and 1892, retains its 14th century tower and spire. In the churchyard, the medieval cross is now designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument. The leper window is believed to have been used to enable lepers to view mass while remaining segregated from the congregation. The Old Vicarage is now St Werburgh’s Nursing Home.
There have been Methodist Chapels in Spondon, since the beginning of the 19th century. The present chapel, opened in 1934, is to be found on the corner of Lodge Lane. The Jehovah’s Witness Hall, in Chapel Street, now occupies the old Methodist Chapel of 1877. In the same street, the Old Village School is at present the home of the Derby School of Bridge.
Located between Spondon and Chaddesden is West Park Meadow, declared a Local Nature Reserve in 1998. It is an important area of open space, which can easily be reached by a number of footpaths. The pond has been there since medieval times. At the southern end of the Acordis site, another Nature Reserve, popular with naturalist groups and school parties, has been created.
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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 only 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.
PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE AREA
Erewash Museum (Tel. 01159 071141) artefacts that cover a period of over 10,000 years are displayed in this splendid little museum. Displays are changed regularly and every effort is made to ensure children as well as adults enjoy their visit. Contact for opening details.
Shipley Country Park (Tel. 01773 719961) contains over 600 acres of attractive parkland with lakes, woodlands and miles of footpaths and bridleways. There is a Visitor Centre with a countryside gift shop and cafe.
Elvaston Castle Country Park (Tel. 01332 571342) the first Country Park to be opened in Britain. Set in 200 acres of parkland with an ornamental lake, extensive gardens, stony grottoes, rock archways and many other interesting features. Open daily.
The Malt Shovel (Tel. 01332 674203) a lovely old pub with a great deal of character, it stands on the site where the fire that devastated Spondon in 1340 originated This has led to the claim being made that it is the oldest site of any public house within Derby. The present inn has been rebuilt twice, parts of which date back to 1680. The pub is open at lunch times and in the evenings and all day Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Meals available lunch times only.
The Bottle Kiln (Tel. 0115 9329442) an art gallery, craft and gift shops, tea rooms and a beautiful Japanese Garden await at this restored site at West Hallam. Open all day Tuesday to Sunday throughout the year from 10am. Open Mondays in December only.
THE DISCOVER DERBYSHIRE AND THE PEAK DISTRICT GUIDE
Provides a wide range of features on towns and villages with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.
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Discover Derby is a sub-section of the Discover Derbyshire and Peak District website and is based on the supplement published by the Derby Evening Telegraph, during March 2005. The contents include six walks and features covering the suburbs of:
In addition there are three illustrated Derby Heritage Trails for you to enjoy, as well as a feature on the history of the city.
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