Derby – the industrial city

August 11 2014


We have been redecorating the flat now for almost a week (repainting and replacing some of the worn out and broken furniture – 6 years of tenants) and whilst we are within sight of finishing we decided it was time for a break (and to acquire some further bits and pieces to finish off). Close by Long Eaton is the city of Derby and Westfield has constructed a large shopping centre just on the fringe of the CBD. So it is a little bit of home I suppose but there is parking and on a rainy day you are warm and dry.

Derby has quite a history. It is both a city (approx. 250,000 people as at 2011 census) and the name of the county in which it is located. It is the home of the Industrial revolution with the first mechanised factory in the world having been constructed there in 1721. The entrepreneur was a fellow named John Lombe (died 6 years later rumoured to have been poisoned by an Italian “Mata Hari”) who was one of the first industrial spys in the world taking technology from Italy for the spinning of silk and patenting the process in the UK and thereby breaking the China/Italy strangle hold on silk. The remnants of his factory remain today as Derby’s Industry Museum.

Derby is the home of Rolls Royce but many of the industrial engineering industries for which Derby became famous have closed. Royal Crown Derby makers of fine bone china has gone through a metamorphosis to emerge as a specialist manufacturer of porcelain and bone china.

There is evidence of Roman settlement and later Anglo Saxon records of a settlement that has grown into Derby. The origin of the town name could be Anglo Saxon (Djura-by), Roman (Dervinto) or Danish (deor)


In the Civil War (Cromwell times 1642 – 1646) Derby had a turbulent history but was on the side of Parliament against the Royalist Armies but 100 hundred years later it played host to Bonnie Prince Charlie where he planned his assault on London to regain the throne of England for the Stuarts. As you all know Charlie backed away from the fight and faced his “Waterloo” at Culloden in 1746, which saw the House of Hanover replace the House of Stuart on the thrones of England Scotland Wales and Ireland. (I will have a little more about Cromwell and his connection with Long Eaton/Attenborough later on).

Derby is built upon the Derwent River and many mills were establish in the Derwent Valley to make use of the water power generated by the river. There is a whole system of mills along the valley but the most interesting to us was the mill at Darley Abbey. We have not made it to the Abbey this time but when we do I will show you all that remains of the 12th century abbey and the industrial weir providing the power for the mills along the Derwent.

In the photos following you will see

• the symbol of Derby the Ram located in the Mall,

• the Book Café (the home of the largest scones known to man) – we stopped for a cuppa and I had an enormous cheese scone and Kerry a sultana scone; the premises were so popular it seemed no one was able to walk past it without coming in,

• the Tiger Bar (a pub which is built over the entrance to the Derby Catacombs – regular ghost tours are conducted where the tourists disappear into a trap door in the floor of the dining room in the bar and reappear later) – we may return for the ghost tour ourselves,

• Derby Cathedral dating from the 12th century and where Bess of Hardwick (a famous identity from Elizabeth I’s reign, one of the wives of the Lord Cavendish and she starting as a 15 year old had 4 husbands and 11 children herself [the family are now the Duke of Devon and much of the privately owned land in London belongs to this family] and gaoler of Mary Queen of Scots) is buried along with all the family members since the 17th century

• Bonnie Prince Charlie on his horse to commemorate his plotting at Derby,

• the Old Silk Mill Pub (no connection with the original factory other than it is close by)

• Derby’s oldest pub Ye Old Dolphin,

• the catholic monolith St Mary’s (it replaced an older church destroyed by Henry VIII)

• the remnants of the first industrial factory (the Silk Factory) now the Derby Museum of Industry

• a painting by an unknown (and not very good) artist of Derby showing the Silk Factory, Exeter House and the town of Derby circa 1725 – they purchased this from an auction because it is the only record they have showing what the town and factory looked like and it shows Exeter House where Charlie and his co-conspirators met – this was later used to entertain visiting industrialist checking out the factory

• a 3D printer in action at the museum – we saw it produce a whistle which worked and two feathers usable as book marks – amazing to see an image turned into a solid, and we saw kinetic sand which is remarkable because it only sticks to itself and therefore is perfect for model making

• remarkable premises of a local law firm “Flint Bishop” occupying this whole building – have a look at their website they have people for just about every letter of the alphabet

the Ramthe Book Cafethe Tiger BarDerby CathedralBonnie Prince Charliethe Silk Mill HotelYe Olde Dolphinthe Silk Factory18th century Derby 3D printerFlint Bishop offices DerbyThe Abbey - the remenants of the Darley AbbeyWhat a place of worship - The Abbey

I have also included some older photos of Darley Abbey from previous visits. All that remains of the Abbey is a former church turned into a pub. Somewhat of a miracle turning water into wine women and song.

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Retired Australian Lawyer having worked representing the innocent and the not so innocent in Australia and some of the remote parts of the world and having travelled widely through Europe, Western Russia, Canada, USA, New Zealand, Thailand Malaysia Solomon Islands northern China, Hong Kong and the UAE So now that I have the time I am writing about my travels present and past. Hope you enjoy exploring off the beaten track.