Derby's Heritage Part 11 - Old, New, Loved, Neglected
w/e 28 November 2010
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490
Heritage Walk Header

Alberto Semprini (1908 – 1990) found fame as a pianist on the BBC where for many years he had a radio programme of light music called "Semprini Serenade". He introduced the programme by saying: "Old ones, new ones, loved ones, neglected ones" and one or more of those words might easily be applied to each of the sites or buildings we encounter in this eleventh section of the Heritage Walk in Derby.

Rivermead House

Leaving the Little Chester area using Handyside's Bridge across the River Derwent we can see to the north the boathouses (left) of the Derby and Derwent Rowing Clubs that were established in 1879 and 1857. Our route though is along the path by the river (right) to the south which soon leads to a comparatively "new" building of Rivermead House (above).

Although there are many similar buildings to this throughout the country, the eleven storey Rivermead House built in 1963 earns its place in the heritage of the city by having the distinction of being Derby's first block of high rise council flats. Forty eight solar panels were installed on the roof of the building in 2009.
St Alkmund's Well

Turning right by Rivermead House and leaving the Derwent behind leads to St Alkmund's Well - the last of Derby's Holy wells. The son of a Northumbrian king, Alkmund was canonised for his defence of Christianity against the Danes in the eighth century. He was originally buried in Shropshire but secretly moved by monks to Northworthy (i.e. Derby) in 1140 when invaders threatened and a Saxon church was built near a spring to house his remains.
Well Street

The well stands at the junction of Bath Street and Well Street and as we head towards the site of St Alkmund's Church our route is up the steep and cobbled Well Street to North Parade.
Bath Street Mills

From Well Street we can see the frontage of the former Bath Street Mills of 1848 but now the building is a sorry sight following a devastating fire in 2009. The mills were built by George Holmes to spin and weave silk and were converted twenty years later for elastic web weaving. The company won numerous international awards in the 1860s, 70s and 80s and before the end of the century was employing between 200 and 300 people but they went out of business in the 1920s. The mill was still used by other concerns for a number of years, Spriggs' Cotton Mill closing in 1958. Eventually put up for sale in 2008, the building was a potential residential development before the 2009 fire curtailed that proposal. (For more information and pictures see the Derelict Places website and an article from 2008).
North Parade

Numbers 1 to 16 North Parade are Grade II listed buildings. The two terraces of eight houses in each were designed by William Smith of Derby and built between 1818 and 1822. The land on which they were built was made available by William Strutt (1756 – 1830), a civil engineer and a name well known in the cotton spinning industry. The fall of the land towards the river allows for an extra storey at the rear.

At the far end of the terraces is an area of land (left) that is a former playground for a school. Before that however the land had been a burial ground attached to St Alkmund's Church, the church itself stood a little further on between Derby Cathedral on Queen Street and St Mary's Roman Catholic Church (right) on Bridge Gate. St Alkmund's Church was built in 1846 on the site of the earlier Saxon church dedicated to the city's patron saint but succumbed to the demolition hammer in 1967 to make way for the inner ring road that now bears the name St Alkmund's Way. The lid of St. Alkmund's coffin now rests in Derby museum and a modern church dedicated to the saint has been built on Kedleston Road in the city.
Convent of Mercy

Turning into Bridge Gate means we have now completed the Little Chester circuit and arrived back in front of St Mary's Church and from the footbridge over St Alkmund's Way we can get a good view of the Convent of Mercy that is housed in an early eighteenth century building.

Commemorative Brick

A brick in the wall of the convent commemorates the visit of Pope John Paul II to Britain in 1982.
St Helen's House

The first building we meet when moving from Bridge Gate into King Street is St Helen's House.This falls into the "old" category dating from 1766-67 but from the security fence around it and the rusty state of the blue plaque by the door, it sadly also appears to be in the "neglected" category too.

St Helen's House blue plaqueThe blue plaque states: "Joseph Pickford of Derby designed this house in 1767 for John Gisborne. From 1803 - 1830 it was the home of William Strutt F.R.S. and from 1830 -1861 that of his son, 1st Lord Belper, previously M.P. for Derby. From 1863 - 1966 it housed Derby School whose Royal Charter was granted in 1554 by Queen Mary." A Derby Civic Society leaflet describes St Helen's as "one of the most splendid of surviving provincial gentry townhouses" and also affirms that it is "a vital element on the edge of the World Heritage Site" so it is sad to see it standing in its current state.
The Seven Stars

Across from St Helen's House is the Seven Stars Inn which is a rare Derby timber framed building. The 1680 building has an earlier core but was not recorded as an inn until 1775 when it was known as "The Seven Stars otherwise The Plough". It is now a Listed Grade II building and until 1965 beer was still brewed on the premises. The neighbouring King Street China Factory had supplied mugs to the inn for consumption of the brew until the last one disappeared about 1945. There is some doubt as to whether it was broken or purloined!
 Back to Part 10
 The Derby Heritage Walk Index
Continued in Part 12

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