Derby's Heritage Part 33 - The Mill & The River
w/e 30 September 2012
All this week's pictures were taken with a Kodak DX6490
Heritage Walk Header

For the bulk of this heritage walk around Derby, I have used several leaflets detailing city centre routes supplemented by further investigation from a number of sources. There is one leaflet however that I have used only sparingly so far but as we approach the final segments of the walk, it will come into its own as it details the "Riverside Quarter Trail" along the bank of the Derwent through the city centre. As well as looking at some of the historical buildings and structures it also features some of the natural history of the area as will soon become apparent. To begin though, we'll start outside the Silk Mill Museum.

Information Board

On the wall of the museum is an information board (click here for enlargement) with some facts about the mill's history and a sketch of John Lombe who was murdered here by an Italian worker after he had smuggled the secret of making efficient silk throwing machines out of Northern Italy.
Wrought Iron Gates

Plan of gates positionWhat I found interesting about the board was the sketch on the right of the board which shows the view down Silk Mill Lane in 1858 indicating the position of Robert Bakewell's wrought iron gates. The aforementioned gates have now been repositioned at the side of the museum close to their original position and if I am reading another nearby information board correctly they were at ninety degrees to their present orientation. The same sketch on the board also shows a row of cottages next to the mill but today these have been replaced by a high brick wall surrounding a large electricity substation.

Substation & Silk Mill

The substation is all that remains of the former Derby Power Station which stood on the site of what is now the Cathedral Park on the left of the image above. Following the substation round into Sowter Road we can now return to the Chapel on the Bridge (Part 07) but instead of crossing the St Mary's Bridge this time we can descend and access a timber boardwalk at the side of the River Derwent.
St Mary's Bridge

The bridge built in 1794 by Richard Trubshaw to a design by Thomas Harrison of Chester replaced an earlier one that had stood here since about 1275.
Causey Bridge

For many years St Mary's Bridge carried much of the traffic entering the city but since the construction of the adjacent Causey Bridge and the ring road, the volume of traffic on the old bridge has significantly reduced. Whilst it is easy to admire the smooth lines and the engineering of the Causey Bridge I'm afraid the concrete structure pales in comparison to the elegance of St Mary's Bridge. The "Riverside" leaflet points out that Daubenton's Bats fly low over the river on summer evenings but on a September afternoon all we saw were pigeons flying under the bridge.
Riverside Plants

Under Causey BridgeCausey BridgeAfter passing under Causey Bridge (left) the path swings away from the river (right) and the ground between can become quite muddy but it supports two types of willow - the Osier (with much narrower leaves) and the Crack Willow. Woodland plants like Wild Garlic and Lesser Celandine can also be seen in spring whilst in summer Himalayan Balsam and the poisonous Hemlock are prevalent.
Weeping Willow

At the side of the Causey Bridge is a large Weeping Willow which is a hybrid famed for its bright green leaves and drooping slender branches.
Short Cut

The path now continues at the side of the Silk Mill Museum again and here we are advised to scour the riverbank for rats with their pointed noes and long tails. We are also advised not to encourage them by leaving food as they carry diseases. If there were any rats there as we passed they were well hidden but that could have been something to do with the earlier heavy rainfall and swollen waters which had brought all sorts of detritus downstream to the river's edge and disturbed their natural habitat. Despite the possibility of rats, this passageway forms a popular short cut for pedestrians and cyclists.
Foundation Arches

The Silk Mill was the first of Derby's mills and was built in 1717-18 but burnt down in 1910. It was rebuilt and only the octagonal tower and the foundation arches from the original building survived to be visible in the present day. The path continues back to the front of the Silk Mill Museum which is where we will resume the walk along the riverbank.
 Back to Part 32
 The Derby Heritage Walk Index
Continued in Part 34

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