Derby's Heritage Part 08 - Little Chester
w/e 29 August 2010
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490
Heritage Walk Header

I had planned to start this part with a walk across Chester Green but as we were in Derby on Sunday afternoon it was the opportune time to visit the Heritage Centre and as a consequence we didn't get as far around the route as intended. So we'll begin with a few images from within the Heritage Centre which is housed in St Paul's Church.

Heritage Centre

Upon entering the Centre, we were immediately confronted by a number of boards that resembled well dressings (top right). The gentleman that had created them who was on hand to share his extensive knowledge about the history and heritage of Derby, was in fact an experienced well dresser but these particular boards were actually referred to as wool dressings as many of the pictures had been made with strands of wool. Several of them depicted Roman soldiers and harked back to the area's Roman roots when there was a small town here with the Latin name of Derventio meaning "a valley thick with oaks". Over the years the name has been Anglicised to Derwent, the name of several rivers in the country, one of which as we know flows through Derby.
Models & Artifacts

We spent about an hour in the Centre viewing the models, information boards and artifacts on display as well as talking to the group of volunteers who made us feel very welcome. Some of the exhibits are permanent and others are changed at intervals but up to date information about events at the Centre can be gleaned from the Little Chester Heritage Centre website.
St Paul's Road

On leaving the Centre, Chester Green Recreation Ground stretches out directly in front but to the left we are advised to pause and admire the architecture of the buildings along St Paul's Road. These houses were built by Sir Alfred Seale Haslam for his workforce about 1890. Haslam's foundry stands the far end of the road and we shall get a closer view as the walk progresses.
Recreation Ground

We are also advised to admire the setting of the houses and this is the view from in front of them across the recreation ground which was one of the earliest public spaces created in Derby dating from between 1882 and 1886. It is still well used for sporting activities especially cricket and football.
Tree Lined Path

Stone PillarMarcus StreetWe continued along the path between the recreation ground on the left and Mansfield Road to the right to Chester Green Road. A stone pillar at the junction (left) bears a plaque saying "These trees being a gift to the city of Derby by John Davis & Son (Derby) Ltd. commemorate the company's bicentenary 1779 - 1979". Walking along Chester Green Road, the route is to turn right into Marcus Street (right).
Information Board

At the end of Marcus Street, an illustrated information board recounts the history of the site telling how Ryknield Street, a Roman road that ran from Gloucestershire to Yorkshire, was diverted in the second century around the defensive position that we know as Little Chester.
Roman Well

The information board also refers to two more historic features that can still be seen nearby. The first is a Roman well that stood at the edge of Ryknield Street and it affirms that all the masonry below the grating is original and dates from the late third century.
Roman Building Stones

The second feature is adjacent to the well and can be seen in the gardens of the houses that have been built on the site. Here we see the foundation stones of a timber framed Roman building. Many artifacts from Roman times have been found all around the Little Chester area and a recent survey has identified another site not far away that could soon be the subject of another archeological excavation.
 Back to Part 07
 The Derby Heritage Walk Index
Continued in Part 09

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