Weekly City Spotlight: Derby


Derby Guildhall

Situated on the River Derwent, Derby is located in the East Midlands of the country, and is surrounded by the beautiful Derbyshire countryside. The historic city has a wealth of places to explore, including a number of museums and attractions such as the Derby Gaol, offering something a little bit different.  St Peter’s and the Cathedral Quarter are a must for shoppers, with a maze of streets offering independent and specialist shops, as well as high street names in an historic setting.

Historic Derby
Derby was the site of a Roman settlement, with Chester Green being the location of a Roman fort.  With evidence of Viking and Anglo Saxon activity also in the area, it is believed the name Derby may be derived from this time with Deoraby meaning Village of the Deer.

Derby has proved to be an important location during times of conflict, at the time of the Civil War, Sir John Gell, Governor of Derby led his troops to battle defending Derbyshire against the Royalists, as well as assisting in the defence of the surrounding areas of Nottinghamshire, Cheshire and Staffordshire.

Derby also played host to Charles Edward Stuart, Bonnie Prince Charlie, in 1745, during his quest to regain control of the British throne.  The Prince stayed at Exeter House, where he conducted his council of war.  Whilst Exeter House no longer exists following its demolition, the Derby Museum and Art Gallery have built a replica of this historic room used be the prince, with original panelling from Exeter House featuring in this exhibit.

Industrial Revolution
During the Industrial Revolution, Derby would be recognised for its significant contribution in a number of areas.  John Lombe together with George Sorocold would build Britain’s first silk mill which was powered by water.  After visiting counterparts in Italy, Lombe was able to replicate their silk processing machinery and techniques back in Derby, and the factory would later be recognised as one of the first in the world which was fully mechanised.

Derby would continue to present revolutionary ideas and technology, with the success of ventures such as Arkwright, Need and Strutts cotton spinning mills, resulting in a large number of mills being built in the county.  With the development of the railways, Derby would also become the headquarters of Midland Railways and play a hugely significant role within the rail industry.  Today Derby, is home to the likes of Rolls-Royce and has continued to remain a leading commercial and industrial location.

Popular Culture
Derby is an historic and cultural city, and as such has been a focus in popular culture.

Films & TV
Meanwhile – (2003), starring David Coggins and Darren and Rupert Hill as Gary, the pair meet up after four years apart whilst attending the funeral of an old friend, and the film follows the eventful happenings after their paths have crossed again.  This film was written and directed by Jason Millward and shot in Derby.

Another Year – (2010), Written and Directed by Mike Leigh and starring Jim Broadbent and Ruth Sheen, Another Year was shot in various locations in the UK including Derby.

Jobseekers, released in September 2013, is a TV comedy series and focusses on three main characters Ben, Gaz and Josh and their struggle to find work.

Peak Practice, the TV drama which starred Simon Shepherd and Esther Coles was filmed in Derby, and was the creation of Lucy Gannon, a local producer and playwright.

Reaper, the crime thriller series by Stephen Dunne, features DI Damen Brook, and is set in Derby. The series includes Reaper, The Disciple, and Deity, with The Unquiet Grave the latest edition to the thrilling series.

Social Media
Additional information on Derby can be found on its official website, Visit Derby as well as Facebook, and Twitter accounts.

Famous Faces
Joseph Wright – born in Derby on 3 September 1734, Joseph Wright was a famous English painter and is known for his expressive work depicting the industrial revolution.  As well as portraits and landscapes, Wright’s work also included science as a focus, and his work can be seen in the Derby Museum and Art Gallery.

Ellen MacArthur – the record breaking solo yachtswoman was born in Derby on 8 July 1976.  In February 2005 MacArthur made international headlines after breaking the world record for the fastest time recorded by a solo yachtsperson for sailing around the world.

Sir Charles Fox – born on the 11th March 1810, Fox was a civil engineer and worked extensively on railways and bridges, he also invented the railway switch, known as railway points today.  He was employed by Robert Stephenson whilst working in London, and went on to work on many London Station constructions as well as Crystal Palace.



Derby Cathedral

Derby Cathedral
The beautiful Cathedral of All Saints dates back to 1350, with rebuilding taking place in 1725 following the designs of James Gibbs.  With amazing neoclassical and gothic styling the cathedral is located in Irongate, it is the Seat of the Bishop of Derby and provides visitors with stunning views of Derby from the 212ft Cathedral Tower, the 2nd highest of its kind in England.

Derby Museum & Art Gallery
Situated on The Strand, admission is free to the Derby Museum & Art Gallery, where in addition to the works of Joseph Wright, the museum is home to a number of collections including fascinating exhibits such as the Egyptian Mummies and the Hanson Logboat, a 3,400 year old Bronze Age exhibit.  A recent addition is an exhibition with wood, bone, glass and stone themes.

Derby Gaol
Viewed as one of the most haunted places in the country, the Derby Gaol can be found in Friargate.  Visitors can experience the depths of the goal which dates back to 1756 and learn more about its history from the Museum located there.  With ghost walks as well as overnight vigils on offer, the Derby Gaol offers a unique experience that’s not for the faint hearted.

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