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The History of Derby

by Well Polished Derby, Nov 2018

Derby, originally called Derventio by the Romans, has officially been a city since 1977. However, the history of the home of the rams stretches much further back than that.

Modern archaeology and studies have indicated that the Anglo-Saxons and the Vikings peacefully co-existed. Chronicles as early as 900 AD said, “Derby is divided by water”.

Derby played a particularly interesting role in the English Civil War. It was garrisoned by Parliamentary troops under the command of Sir John Gell. He was then appointed Governor of Derby in 1643.

The troops besieged Lichfield, partook in the defence near Nottingham and many other military engagements in Nottinghamshire, as well as many other counties. The most famous of these engagements would be the Battle of Hopton Heath against the Royalist regiments.

Bonnie Prince Charlie set up camp in Derby in 1745 on his way south to take the British crown. He’d stayed at The George Inn and demanded Billets for 9,000 of his troops.

Derby also played a huge role in the industrial revolution, being the home of the first ever water powered silk mill.

Rolls Royce set up an aircraft factory in 1901, which really kicked off Derby’s industrial boom.

Derby Wireless Club was set up in 1911; the first radio in the country.

German Zeppelin air bombers specifically targeted Derby in World War I and five people died in a raid in 1916.

The slum clearance of the 1920’s and 30s saw the population living in the centre of the town disperse out into the suburbs where council estates were constructed, as well as private housing. Developments in housing were greatly expanded after World War II.

To mark her 25th anniversary of ascension to the throne, Queen Elizabeth II awarded Derby city status in 1977. For a long period of time, Derby was one of the only places in the UK with a cathedral but without official city status.

In recent years, Derby has become a cultural centre in the UK for deaf people, due to a strong sign language using community.

Derby has maintained a long and strong history and we hope it will continue to prosper for the foreseeable future.