Derby's Heritage Part 29 - Old Friends
w/e 27 May 2012
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490
Heritage Walk Header

This part of the walk around Derby is a little like meeting old friends as we return to St Peter's Street and end near Albert Street passing some familiar figures and an animal statue on the way.

The SpotThe Spot ClockWe resume at The Spot which was redesigned in the early 1990s when a clock by Smiths of Derby was installed as part of the Derby Promenade pedestrianisation scheme. The name "The Spot" appears to have its origins in premises on the corner of London Road and Osmaston Road belonging to maltster Abraham Ward. Originally named "The Spot in Derby" in 1741, it had changed to "on the Spot" a year later and subsequently the name became associated with the whole area.

Tudor Style

On the Osmaston Road side of The Spot there is a building with pretensions of the Tudor period but it was actually built about 1890 and was occupied by the drapery store of E. W. Grimes between 1897 and 1956. Today the building is split between two businesses.
Babington Buildings

The third street to meet London Road and Osmaston Road at The Spot is the first of our "old friends". This is St Peter's Street part of which we explored earlier in the walk but now we are approaching from the opposite direction. On the corner of St Peter's Street and Babington Lane are the Babington Buildings. Dating from 1898 as a Boot and Shoe Emporium they were designed by John Wills for Councillor G. E. Franklin and are now home to a branch of a national book shop. They were named after the large Jacobean house that stood nearby until 1897. It was in the original Babington House that Mary Queen of Scots stayed overnight on her way to Tutbury where she was imprisoned at Castle at the behest of Queen Elizabeth I.
St Peter's Street

From its junction with Babington Lane, this is the view down St Peter's Street to the Corn Market and Derby Cathedral in the distance with St Peter's Church on the left.
Boots Building

Across from the church and on the corner of East Street is the former Boots Building. This was built at the beginning of the twentieth century for the Nottingham based chemists and Boots traded from here until the 1970s when they moved into the Eagle Shopping Centre which has now been extended to become part of the Westfield Centre. It is a listed Grade II building built in the Arts and Crafts style by Albert Bromley of Nottingham and is notable for four famous people associated with Derby incorporated into its design.

Boots Building Figures

The statues by Morley Horder were created from plaster using a method called pargetting which is an East Anglian craft. The statues are from left to right, cotton mill owner Jedidiah Strutt; co-founder of the Derby Silk Mill, John Lombe; poet and historian William Hutton who counted among his works the first published "History of Derby" (1791) and of course pioneering nurse Florence Nightingale.
East Street

On the opposite corner of East Street, the modern architecture does nothing at all to complement the former Boots Building but a picture on the Picture The Past site from the 1940s showing the former Midland Drapery store shows the former glory and magnificence of the area. East Street itself is an ancient route and is at least eight hundred years old. It was formerly known as Bag Lane and was recorded as such in 1220 when it was known as Baggelon from the Middle English "bagge" meaning "beggar" and "lanu" meaning "lane". Thought to be the source of the 1635 plague because of the squalor in the area it was widened in 1883 and again in 1898 being renamed about the same time as East Street, taking its name rather unimaginatively from the direction it ran from St Peter's Church.
Co-op Building

Exchange StreetAbout two-thirds of the way down East Street it is crossed by Exchange Street to the left and Albion Street to the right which leads into the Westfield Centre and the Eagle Market. The architecture here is much more classical in style than the brick and glass that replaced the Midland Drapery store and the Co-Operative building with the copper dome was designed by Alexander Macpherson with building work beginning in 1912. It was not completed until 1917 with the stone detailing being carved by the Co-op's own stone masons from their Funeral Service Department. Although no longer occupied by the company, the Co-op still trades from its other building from 1928 on the opposite corner of Exchange Street (left).
Derby Ram

In the middle of the junction of East Street with Exchange Street and Albion Street is the eight foot high statue that has occupied this spot since 1995 of the Derby Ram sculptured in Derbyshire gritstone by Michael Pegler. The soft drinks can is an optional extra but the statue, a gift to Derby by the developers of the Eagle Centre was unveiled by the then Mayor, Councillor John McGiven. The Ram has long been associated with Derby and Derbyshire and the 95th Derbyshire Regiment of Foot acquired a ram as a mascot in India in 1838. Since then it has become the mascot of the Sherwood Foresters and by association, the Mercian Regiment as well as being the emblem of many other organisations in the county, prominent among them of course being Derby County Football Club. It is thought that the origins of the ram in folklore date back to the pre-Christian animal gods and the tale of a giant beast are recorded in the comic folk song "The Derby Ram".
(See this page from 2002 for more about the Derby Ram).
Exchange Buildings

Exchange Street linking Albert Street to East Street was created in the mid 1870s taking its name from the Corn Exchange that had been built on Albert Street in 1862. Like the Co-op building, the Exchange Buildings too has a copper dome and the buildings are now Grade II listed. They also have an interesting history as they became the Palace Theatre of Varieties in 1897 with "twice nightly" dancing but the dance hall was closed at the onset of the First World War. Re-opening as the Palais de Danse in 1919 it then underwent another name change in 1929 when the local newspaper, the Derby Evening Telegraph moved in to convert it for office use as Northcliffe House. The newspaper continued to use the Exchange Buildings until 1981 when they were sub-divided to create several smaller units.
 Back to Part 28
 The Derby Heritage Walk Index
Continued in Part 30

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