Derby's Heritage Part 12 - King Street to Friar Gate
w/e 26 December 2010
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490
Heritage Walk Header

This part is one of contrasts passing through areas of an industrial past to elegant wide open streets and we pick up the route at the Seven Stars Inn on King Street.

Meeting Room

Our first option is to pass the Seven Stars and turn into Bridge Street keeping left by the Rykneld Mills complex into Lodge Lane (left). The second option is to take a few steps back to St Helen's Street to pass the Radio Derby building (right). This way we pass the Meeting Room (above) built 1808 to a traditional Quaker design. One of Derby's claims to fame is that it is where Quakers were given their name.
Rykneld Mills

The two route options converge via Willow Row but where Willow Road joins Lodge Lane we get our first glimpse of the seven storey block that is part of the Rykneld Mills. The complex consists of four mills built between 1819 and 1842 for silk manufacturers Thomas Bridgett & Co. who became the largest silk concern in Derby. The seven storey block is the South Mill but the mills have now been converted into housing and seem to be occupied mainly by the University of Derby.
Wesleyan Chapel

From St Helen's Street we turn into Brook Street where nestling on a small plot of land in the shadow of the towering South Mill and more recent extension is the former Wesleyan Chapel. The chapel was built in 1802 as Derby's first Baptist Chapel but was enlarged in 1815 and sold to the Wesleyan Methodists in 1856 with whom it remained until 2002 when it closed. Now Grade II listed, the chapel has been converted to a wine bar and restaurant.
St John's Church

We leave Brook Street where it joins Bridge Street and continue to Friar Lane passing on the way St John the Evangelist's Church on the corner of Mill Street. The turreted design always reminds me of a castle but the Grade II* listed building is the only surviving Commissioners' Church in Derby, being consecrated in 1828, earning it the distinction of being the first 'new' church in Derby to be consecrated since the Reformation.
Headless Cross

On meeting Friar Lane our route will be to the left back towards the city centre but first we must go a short distance in the opposite direction to view the Headless Cross. The Cross that has a fascinating history bears a weathered and worn plaque that is difficult to read but I believe it says the following:
"This stone once formed part of a medieval cross which stood at the upper end of Friar Gate and was later used by the inhabitants of Derby as a market stone during the visitation of the plague 1665. It was removed from the Arboretum and replaced here near its original site June 1970"
Located at the Arboretum between 1892 and 1979, the Cross has a trough in its top in which vinegar was kept to allow money to be disinfected during the Great Plague. There also appears to be some dispute or confusion about the history of the cross but there is an article on that purports to be the true story.
Vernon Street

On the other side of Friar Gate is Vernon Street a wide street lined with fine Regency villas. Some of the outdoor sequences of the 1980s TV series "Nanny" starring Wendy Craig which was set in London were actually filmed in Vernon Street, Derby. At the far end of the street is the impressive façade in the Greek Doric style of the County Gaol that opened in 1827. Designed by Francis Goodwin, it served as the County Gaol from 1843 until 1919, when much of it was demolished but still served as a military prison until 1929. It later became Derby's Greyhound Stadium but fell into disrepair until it was restored in 2000 becoming a complex of offices and apartments leaving only the imposing front façade of the former prison.
Friar Gate

From the end of Vernon Street, this is the view along Friar Gate towards the city centre. I have often driven along here (part of it is one way) but it is difficult to see the properties when travelling at speed and it is only on foot that the true elegance of the street can be appreciated. Each of the buildings must have a story to tell but we shall only sample a few in passing.
The Greyhound

One such building is The Greyhound pub. This too, like many in this area, is a Grade II listed building and was built in 1734. I thought the name may have been because of its proximity to the former stadium but as it predates Friar Gatethe stadium by a couple of hundred years, and as I have found no mention of an earlier name, it would appear that this is just a strange coincidence. In the past, beer was brewed on the premises and it was once owned by Derby's last independent brewer, Offiler's. Standing opposite Derby's second County Gaol it was the last port of call for prisoners who were allowed one last drink when on their way to the gallows. It has recently been completely refurbished and re-opened in 2010 and is now owned by the local family run Derby Brewing Company.

We will continue to look at some more of Friar Gate's history in the next part.
 Back to Part 11
 The Derby Heritage Walk Index
Continued in Part 13

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