Industrial city and administrative centre of Derby City unitary authority in north-central England, on the River Derwent, 51 km/32 mi northeast of Birmingham; population (2001) 229,400. Derby was granted city status in 1977 as part of the Queen's Silver Jubilee celebrations. Industries include engineering, chemicals, paper, textiles, plastics, and financial services.
History Derby was first settled by the Romans who built a fort, Derventio, on the east bank of the Derwent. When the Anglo-Saxons arrived, they renamed the fort Little Chester, as it is still known today, and set up a settlement 1.6 km/1 mi to the south which they named Northworthy. This was renamed Deoraby by the Danes who captured it in 874. By the time of the Domesday Book in 1086, the town had a population of 2,000, and six churches, including All Saints' Parish Church, which became Derby Cathedral in 1927. Derby received a market charter from Henry II in 1154. The city suffered heavy losses in the plagues of 1349 and 1592. Local government was first set up in 1637, under a charter granted by Charles I. During the Jacobite rising in 1745, Charles Edward Stuart advanced as far as Derby before retreating. The town began to develop as a manufacturing centre at the end of the 17th century, and England's first silk mill was built here in 1717. In the 18th century, Derby became a centre of porcelain production, producing ‘Chelsea-Derby’ ware. The opening of the Derby canal in 1836 and the joining of Derby to the rail network sped up industrial development. Soon afterwards the Birmingham, Gloucester, and Derby Junction railway was opened, and in 1841 Derby was linked by rail to Leeds. When the separate companies were amalgamated, Derby became the headquarters of the Midland Railway Company in 1844. In 1908 the Rolls-Royce factory was founded, boosting Derby's industrial expansion.
Features Derby Cathedral was originally built as All Saints' parish church, and its 16th-century tower, 64 m/178 ft high, was the second-highest parish church tower in England (second only to Boston Stump). Only this tower was kept when the church was demolished and rebuilt in 1725 by Scottish architect James Gibbs. Derby cathedral has an unusual wrought-iron screen designed by the local smith Robert Bakewell (d. 1752). The 13th-century St Mary's on the Bridge is one of the few remaining bridge chapels in England. Other churches include St Peter's (1042), St Alkmund's, St Andrew's (Norman remains, rebuilt 1875) decorated by English architect Giles Gilbert Scott, and St Mary's Roman Catholic Church (1838), designed by architect Augustus Pugin. On 9 July 1735 the church of St Werburgh's held and registered the wedding of the lexicographer and author Samuel Johnson to Elizabeth Porter. The former county hall, now the crown court, was first built in 1660, and modernized in 1866. The Dolphin is a coaching inn dating from 1530. A plaque marks the birthplace of the philosopher Herbert Spencer in 1820.
The City Museum and Art Gallery includes a room illustrating Charles Edward Stuart's visit to the town during the Jacobite Rebellion; there is also a collection of paintings by the local artist Joseph Wright. Other exhibits include a history of the Midland Railway Company and a collection of Royal Crown Derby porcelain. The 18th-century silk mill also marks Derby's industrial development, and includes a collection of Rolls-Royce aeroplane engines.
Derby's parks include Darley Abbey, (25 ha/62 acres), Markeaton Park (80 ha/198 acres), Racecourse Park (50 ha/124 acres), and Riverside Gardens. The Arboretum (1840), the first public park in England, was laid out by Scottish landscape gardener John Loudon.
Derby Tourist Information Web Site
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