Derby's Heritage Part 16 - Sadler Gate (west)
w/e 24 April 2011
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490
Heritage Walk Header

After leaving the Museum and Art Gallery, our walk continues into Sadler Gate but we'll begin this part first of all with a few words about The Strand. This part of Derby is still blighted by road works and temporary walkways but if you can cast your eyes beyond the barriers in the image below you'll see The Strand with the Art Gallery on the extreme right. Sadler Gate is the street on the left with entrance to The Strand Arcade prominent but more of both of them later.

The Strand

Before moving on it is worth relating that The Strand was built in the 1870s after the culverting of the Markeaton Brook. It was paid for by millionaire railway contractor Sir Abraham Woodiwiss and the road follows the line of the brook. It was given the name of The Strand because it was inspired by the street of the same name in London which acquired its name because it originally followed the line of the Thames "beach" or "strand". Markeaton Brook was crossed by a stone bridge at the end of Sadler Gate which although not named as such was in situ in 1712. It was rebuilt to a design by William Strutt in 1786 and stood for nearly another hundred years until the culverting of the brook.
Sadler Gate Bridge

Sadler Gate Bridge name plateEven then the bridge was not demolished but became hidden beneath the new road where it remained for another century until revealed by workmen in 1976. A row of buildings most of which have now disappeared at the junction with The Strand had become known as Sadler Gate Bridge and the name plate still exists on the first building in Sadler Gate as testament to the area's history. That first building also provides the entrance to George's Yard /Lane. There are a number of yards off Sadler Gate but this one is unusual in that it runs almost the whole length of Sadler Gate to emerge near the far end opposite the Old Bell Hotel.
Sadler Gate

Even though the frontages of most of the properties in Sadler Gate date from the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries with more recent shop windows, the rear of the buildings are sixteenth and seventeenth century structures. In fact much of the city centre street plan is a reflection of the mediaeval layout. The street names too are a clue to earlier times. Iron Gate that we saw earlier and Sadler Gate point to activities that were carried on here - smiths and leather workers - "gate" being a derivation of the Norse "geata" meaning "street".
The Strand Arcade

An imposing stone façade marks the entrance to The Strand Arcade which links through to The Strand where there is an equally imposing entrance opposite the Art Gallery. The Arcade was built between 1871 and 1874 to a design by architect John Somes Story and like The Strand owes its inspiration to a similar structure in London, the Burlington Arcade.
Burgage Plot

Sadler GateWe have already seen that most of the frontages in Sadler Gate (right) date from the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries but the only one that has retained its earlier appearance is this steep gabled brick house opposite The Strand Arcade. This, like the rest of the street, was built on a burgage plot. Burgage is a mediaeval term that means that the plot consisted of a house usually on a long narrow piece of land belonging to the king or a lord in a town. It was held in return for an annual rent or the rendering of a service and as towns developed, with the subsequent population increase it became common for burgage plots to be split into smaller units.
Old Blacksmith's Yard

Old Blacksmith's YardOld Blacksmith's YardAbout half way along Sadler Gate is one of several yards along the street and this one is denoted by a swinging anvil as well as the name "The Old Blacksmith's Yard" above the entrance. The yard is now surrounded by a number of business premises (left) and also contains a small property (right) on which a plaque informs that Old Blacksmith's Yard was restored by David M. Adams in 1982.
15th Century House

Looking back towards the entrance, the original architecture at the rear of the buildings on Sadler Gate is apparent but the striking black and white timber building is not an original feature of the yard. This fifteenth century house was discovered in the Market Place embedded in the rear of Newcastle House when that was demolished in 1971/2 prior to the construction of the Assembly Rooms. It was reconstructed here when the yard was redeveloped as a shopping precinct and renamed as the Old Blacksmith's Yard. Prior to that the yard had been known by various names usually after the chief occupant. In the 1800s it was called Atherstone's Yard after Hugh Atherstone from a family of veterinary surgeons; Cartlich's Yard which later became Cartledge's Yard from Thomas Cartlich, an upholsterer and cabinet maker and by 1898 it was Palfree's Yard after Samuel Palfree, a farrier. It retained that name and returned to its use as a veterinary practice when Palfree's granddaughter had an animal hospital here until 1979 when, against the advice of the Museum, its present name was adopted.
Built in 1675

Returning to Sadler Gate and opposite The Old Blacksmith's Yard are more of those properties with the later frontages but number 48 is largely unchanged and is a post-Restoration building with the date 1675 prominently picked out above the old door.
 Back to Part 15
 The Derby Heritage Walk Index
Continued in Part 17

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