Derby - The Cathedral Quarter
w/e 29 June 2008
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490

The opening of the new Westfield Centre in Derby has resulted in several major businesses relocating and forced several smaller concerns into closing due to the drop in passing trade in the traditional shopping centre of Derby. Moves are afoot to revive the area along with the adjacent and much vaunted Cathedral Quarter which I believe is still one of the most attractive parts of central Derby as a short walk along Iron Gate from Full Street to the Market Place should illustrate.

Dolphin Inn

At the junction of Full Street and Iron Gate is Derby's oldest pub, The Dolphin Inn that was originally built about 1530 but had an extension added on the Full Street side in the 18th century. Not only is the pub said to have been frequented by highwayman Dick Turpin in 1738 and also by Bonnie Prince Charlie's troops about 1745, it is also reputed to be haunted which is not really surprising as the city is well known as being the "Ghost Capital of England".
Cathedral Tower

The Dolphin lies almost literally in the shadow of Derby Cathedral but it is not until you stand at the foot of the tower - at 212 feet tall, the second highest in England - that you really appreciate the scale of it. All Saints' Church is thought to have been founded by King Edmund in 943AD but the tower was not built until the time of Henry VIII between 1511 and 1532. By the early 18th century the church structure had become unsafe and with the exception of the tower was demolished and replaced in 1723. It was not until 1927 though that the Parish Church of Derby was raised to Cathedral status.

Visitors are often allowed to climb the 189 steps to the top of the tower passing the bell ringing room. The tower contains ten bells which is the oldest ring of ten bells in the world. The tower has also been the focus of attention in recent years as web cams have enabled bird watchers everywhere to view Peregrine Falcons that have nested on the eastern face.
Iron Gate

Iron Gate continues past the Cathedral along what was once the main thoroughfare through the town centre between London and Carlisle. Bennetts, in the centre of this picture, began life in 1734 as an ironmongers and expanded steadily over the years. It now stocks a large range of fashions and cosmetics; gifts and interior accessories; food and not forgetting its ironmongery roots, is well known throughout the area as a supplier of quality goods. Iron Gate was redeveloped in the late 1800s when the road was widened.

About half way along Iron Gate is a tribute to Joseph Wright, the Derby born artist famous for his oil paintings. He began life on September 3rd, 1734 at 28 Iron Gate, went to London to study in 1751 and travelled to Italy before returning first of all to Bath but then back to Derby where he spent the rest of his life, dying at his Queen Street home on August 29th, 1797. He was the first professional painter to express the spirit of the Industrial Revolution using an effect called Chiaroscuro which emphasises the contrast of light and dark.
The Guildhall

Entering the Market Place the eye is immediately drawn to Henry Duesbury's Grade II listed Guildhall. This was formerly the Town Hall and was built in 1842. A more recent structure seen here immediately behind the two figures towards the right of the image, is a water feature that (when operating) spurts and sprays an arc of water from about ten feet high, waterfall fashion to the ground.
Well Dressing Display

Although not a well in the accepted meaning of the word, an example of a well dressing is on display between the water feature and the Guildhall about this time each year. The theme for this year's display is the Derby Ram and although I believe it was prepared by the same team from Spiral Arts responsible for Ripley's Well Dressing a couple of weeks ago, this one is credited to QUAD, a gallery, cinema, cafe bar and workshop that anyone can use. The Cathedral Tower as we have already seen is the second highest in England but in Derbyshire folklore, no ram is larger than the Derby Ram and this led to the widespread use of the ram as a symbol for Derby and also the nickname of Derby County Football Club.

Oh, as I was going to Derby upon a market day,
I saw the biggest ram, sir that was ever fed with hay.
The little boys of Derby, Sir, they came to beg his eyes,
To kick about the streets, Sir, for they were football size.

It's just a shame then or perhaps a sign of the times we live in, that it is deemed necessary to surround the display with a fence that can be chained and padlocked.

Click here to see a page from 2002 about the Derby Ram but please note that the Main Centre statue has been relocated due to the construction of the Westfield Centre, the Heritage Centre and the Derby County's city centre shop have both closed and although Pride Park is still the same, the Rams have enjoyed the elation of promotion and suffered the misery of relegation from the Premiership since then.

(For more images from Well Dressing Festivals see the Well Dressing Index),

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