Derby's Heritage Part 10 - Romans, Saxons & Victorians
w/e 31 October 2010
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490
Heritage Walk Header

At the end of Part 9 we had just entered the site of the Roman fortifications built about 80AD and called Derventio. The fort was almost square in shape and continuing to the end of Old Chester Road takes us to the south west corner of the site where the only remaining prebendal farmhouse still stands and that is where we will begin this part.

Roman Wall

Today the house is a private residence and access to it is not usually possible for the general public but back in September when this image was captured, the lady of the house led a guided walk of the area from the Little Chester Heritage Centre and allowed those taking part not only to explore the gardens but also to take photographs. She also pointed out this wall near the entrance to the property which it is believed has survived since Roman times as the construction is identical to that of Hadrian's Wall in the north of the country.
Stone House Prebend

Stone House PrebendDate PlaqueThe Stone House Prebend (above and left) was originally a timber framed building and timbers can still be seen at the rear of the building where there is also a plaque (right) bearing the date 1594. These three images were also taken in September this year. The bricked up doorway in the mediaeval chimney gave access to the chimney when it was the practice to send small boys up as chimney sweeps.

Stone House Prebend not only stands on the site of an Ancient Monument but it is also a listed building.
Community Centre

The rest of the images in this part were taken towards the end of October 2010 and this one shows the Community Centre at the entrance to Darley Park. This is still within the site of the Roman fortifications but in the north western quarter.
Saxon Cemetery

The Romans remained at Deventio until 350AD and Anglo Saxons settled in the area sometime after 500AD. It was during the eighth century that the area became part of the Saxon kingdom of Mercia and a town was established south of the fort. This town called Northworthy later developed to become Derby but in 917AD a battle took place "within the gates" of Derby where the Saxon Queen Aethelflaed defeated the Danes. It is thought that the site of the battle may also have been the site of the Roman fort but what is certain is that this small plot of land at the rear of the Community Centre was a Saxon burial ground as the remains of a number of bodies dating from the period were discovered here.
Derwent House

The Saxon cemetery lay just outside the northern ramparts of the Roman fort which continued across the middle of what is now the bowling green. The building that overlooks the bowling green is Derwent House, a seventeenth century building but with a much earlier core that probably dates from the same time as Stone House Prebend.
The clay ramparts that bounded the Roman defences in the late second century were reinforced with a 9ft (2.7m) thick wall about a hundred years later and the western boundary ran parallel to the River Derwent near the route of today's riverside path (left). The path leads to a sports ground overlooked by Stone House Prebend known as Parker's Piece which still shows evidence of ridge and furrow agriculture,


The cricket pavilion on Parker's Piece was built in 1924 and had to be positioned further to the left than originally intended when a Roman hypocaust was discovered. There is nothing to be seen today but excavations in 1924 revealed the foundations of a room heated by circulating hot air from a furnace under the floor which was raised on stone pillars. The building would have had stone walls decorated with painted plaster and a tiled roof. Despite the work currently being done on the pavilion, it is unlikely that physical evidence of its existence will last as long as the Roman remains.
City Road

Foundry WindowsExiting Parker's Piece onto City Road, the main feature southwards and overlooking Chester Green is Sir Alfred Haslam's Union Foundry. The foundry was a union of two earlier businesses, one of 1822 at the south end of the site and another of 1783 from a little further south. It was established by Sir Alfred Haslam in 1868 and was incorporated in 1873. The building that now stands empty was built in three stages between 1873 and 1899 and is a fine example of Victorian architecture with round arched windows (right) and decorative blue and yellow brickwork.

Haslam's secured their place in industrial history by developing the first large scale refrigeration systems for warehouses and ships which allowed frozen meat to be imported particularly from the southern hemisphere countries in South America and also from Australia.

Methodist ChapelRecreation Centre & CanteenAlthough our route from here is by the side of the foundry to leave the Little Chester area by crossing the river, for completeness it is worth continuing down City Road to view the semi-circular building on the corner of St Paul's Road (left). This was the recreation centre and canteen for Haslam's workers whilst a little further on in Mansfield Street is the Primitive Methodist Chapel (right) of 1865.
Handyside's Bridge

Handyside's BridgeBut returning to Haslam's foundry our route follows the the line of the former Great Northern Railway (later London North Eastern Railway) which has now been converted into a car park at the side of the building. This leads to the bridge over the Derwent that was constructed in 1877 by Andrew Handyside, another name well-known worldwide in Victorian engineering circles. Handyside's made castings, bridges, towers, and piers that were transported to places all around the globe. The construction of the bridge (right) across the Derwent is perhaps best appreciated in the reflection seen from the riverbank.

In the next part we will continue from Handyside's bridge by turning left but the Heritage Walk can be extended from here by taking a circular walk to Darley Village and back by Darley Park. This was a walk we first completed from a different start point in 2008 but by starting with Part 2 and following the links to Part 3 and Part 1, it will return us to here for the continuation of our Heritage Walk.
 Back to Part 09
 The Derby Heritage Walk Index
Continued in Part 11

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