Derby is a city and unitary authority in the East Midlands region of England. It lies upon the banks of the River Derwent and is located in the south of the ceremonial county of Derbyshire. In the 2011 census, the city had a population of 248,700.
The Roman camp of 'Derventio' was probably at Little Chester/Chester Green; The site of the old Roman fort is at Chester Green. Later the town was one of the 'Five Boroughs' (fortified towns) of the Danelaw.
Djúra-bý, recorded in Anglo-Saxon as Deoraby "Village of the Deer". This popular belief is asserted by Tim Lambert who states, "The name Derby is derived from the Danish words deor by meaning deer settlement" without reference or proof. However some assert that it is a corruption of the original Roman name 'Derventio'. The proven origin of the name "Derby" would seem to be elusive.
The name could also be linked with the river which flows through it, the Derwent, meaning 'oak'.
The town name appears, nevertheless, as 'Darby' or 'Darbye' on early modern maps, such as that of Speed (1610).
Modern research (2004) into the history and archaeology of Derby has provided evidence that the Vikings and Anglo-Saxons probably co-existed, occupying two areas of land surrounded by water. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (c. 900) says that "Derby is divided by water". These areas of land were known as Norþworþig ("Northworthy", = "north enclosure") and Deoraby, and were at the "Irongate" (north) side of Derby.
16th century – 18th century
During the Civil War of 1642–1646, Derby was garrisoned by Parliamentary troops commanded by Sir John Gell, 1st Baronet, who was appointed Governor of Derby in 1643. These troops took part in the defence of nearby Nottingham, the Siege of Lichfield, the Battle of Hopton Heath and many other engagements in Nottinghamshire, Staffordshire and Cheshire, as well as successfully defending Derbyshire against Royalist armies.
A hundred years later, Bonnie Prince Charlie set up camp at Derby on 4 December 1745, whilst on his way south to seize the British crown. The prince called at The George Inn on Irongate, where the Duke of Devonshire had set up his headquarters, and demanded billets for his 9,000 troops.
He stayed at Exeter House, Exeter Street where he held his "council of war". A replica of the room is on display at Derby Museum in the city centre. He had received misleading information about an army coming to meet him south of Derby. Although he wished to continue with his quest, he was overruled by his fellow officers. He abandoned his invasion at Swarkestone Bridge on the River Trent just a few miles south of Derby. As a testament to his belief in his cause, the prince – who on the march from Scotland had walked at the front of the column – made the return journey on horseback at the rear of the bedraggled and tired army.
Derby and Derbyshire were centres of Britain's Industrial Revolution. In 1717, Derby was the site of the first water powered silk mill in Britain, built by John Lombe and George Sorocold, after Lombe had reputedly stolen the secrets of silk-throwing from Piedmont in Italy (he is alleged to have been poisoned by the Piedmontese as revenge in 1722).
In 1759, Jedediah Strutt patented and built a machine called the Derby Rib Attachment that revolutionised the manufacture of hose. This attachment was used on the Rev. Lee's Framework Knitting Machine; it was placed in front of – and worked in unison with – Lee's Frame, to produce ribbed hose (stockings). The partners were Jedediah Strutt, William Woollatt (who had been joined in 1758 by John Bloodworth and Thomas Stafford, all leading hosiers in Derby). The patent was obtained in January 1759. After three years, Bloodworth and Stafford were paid off, and Samuel Need – a hosier of Nottingham – joined the partnership. The firm was known as Need, Strutt and Woollatt. The patent expired in 1773, though the partnership continued until 1781 when Need died.
This was followed in Derbyshire by Jedediah Strutt's cotton spinning mills at Belper. They were: South Mill, the first, 1775; North Mill, 1784, which was destroyed by fire on 12 January 1803 and then rebuilt; it started work again at the end of 1804; West Mill, 1792, commenced working 1796; Reeling Mill, 1897; Round Mill, which took 10 years to build, from 1803 to 1813, and commenced working in 1816; and Milford Mills, 1778. The Belper and Milford mills were not built in partnership with Arkwright. These mills were all Strutt owned and financed.
Other famous 18th century figures with connections to Derby include the painter Joseph Wright, known as Wright of Derby, who was famous for his revolutionary use of light in his paintings and was an associate of the Royal Academy; and John Whitehurst, a famous clockmaker and philosopher. Erasmus Darwin, doctor, scientist, philosopher and grandfather of Charles Darwin, whose practice was based in Lichfield, Staffordshire was a frequent visitor to Derby, having founded the Derby Philosophical Society.
In 1840, the North Midland Railway set up its works in Derby and, when it merged with the Midland Counties Railway and the Birmingham and Derby Junction Railway, to form the Midland Railway, Derby became its headquarters.
Derby was one of the boroughs reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835, and it became a county borough with the Local Government Act 1888. The borough expanded in 1877 to include Little Chester and Litchurch, and then in 1890 to include New Normanton and Rowditch. The borough did not increase substantially again until 1968, when under a recommendation of the Local Government Boundary Commission it was expanded into large parts of the rural district of Belper, Repton and South East Derbyshire. This vastly increased Derby's population from 132,408 in the 1961 census to 219,578 in the 1971 census.
Despite being one of the areas of Britain furthest from the sea, Derby holds a special place in the history of marine safety – it was as MP for Derby that Samuel Plimsoll introduced his bills for a 'Plimsoll line' (and other marine safety measures). This failed on first introduction, but was successful in 1876 and contributed to Plimsoll's re-election as an MP.
20th century to present day
An industrial boom began in Derby when Rolls-Royce opened a car and aircraft factory in the town in 1907. In 1923, the Midland Railway became part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway with headquarters in London. However, Derby remained a major rail manufacturing centre, second only to Crewe and Wolverton. Moreover it remained a design and development centre and in the 'thirties, on the direction of Lord Stamp, the LMS Scientific Research Laboratory was opened on London Road.
In World War I, Derby was targeted by German Zeppelin air bombers, who killed five people in a 1916 raid on the town.
All Saints Church was designated as a cathedral in 1927, signalling that the town was ready for city status.
Slum clearance in the 1920s and 1930s saw the central area of Derby become less heavily populated as families were rehoused on new council estates in the suburbs, where houses for private sale were also constructed. Rehousing, council house building and private housing developments continued on a large scale for some 30 years after the end of World War II in 1945.
Production and repair work continued at the railway works. In December 1947 the Locomotive Works unveiled Britain's first mainline passenger diesel-electric locomotive – "Number 10000". In 1958 production switched over to diesel locomotives completely. Meanwhile the Carriage and Wagon Works were building the first of the Diesel Multiple Units which were to take over many of the services.
In 1964 the British Rail Research Division opened to study all aspects of railway engineering from first principles. Its first success was in drastically improving the reliability and speed of goods trains, work which led to the development of the Advanced Passenger Train.
Derby gained a high profile in sport following the appointment of Brian Clough as manager of Derby County F.C. in 1967. Promotion to the Football League First Division was achieved in 1969, and County were champions of the English league three years later. Following the Clough's resignation in 1973, his successor Dave Mackay guided Derby County to another league title in 1975, but this remains to date the club's last major trophy; relegation followed in 1980 and top flight status was not regained until 1987, since then Derby have spent a total of 11 seasons (1987–1991, 1996–2002, 2007–2008) in the top flight. The club moved from its century-old Baseball Ground in 1997 to the new Pride Park Stadium.
Derby was awarded city status on 7 June 1977 by Queen Elizabeth II to mark the 25th anniversary of her ascension to the throne. The Queen presented the "charter scroll" or 'letters patent' in person on 28 July 1977 on the steps of the Council House to the then Mayor Councillor Jeffrey Tillet (Conservative). Until then, Derby had been one of the few towns in England with a cathedral but not city status.
Derby holds an important position in the history of the Labour movement, because it was one of two seats (the other being Keir Hardie's in Merthyr Tydfil) gained by the recently formed Labour Representation Committee at the 1900 general election. The MP was Richard Bell, General Secretary of the Railway Servants Union. Bell was succeeded in 1910 by Jimmy Thomas and he in turn by the distinguished polymath and Nobel Laureate Philip Noel-Baker in 1936.
Despite its strategic industries (rail and aero-engine), Derby suffered comparatively little damage in both world wars (contrast Bristol and Filton). This may in part have been due to the jamming against the German radio-beam navigations systems (X-Verfahren and Knickebein, camouflage and decoy techniques ('Starfish sites') were built, mainly south of the town, e.g. out in fields near Foremark (ref. Kirk, Felix & Bartnik, 2002, see talk; see also).
Derby has also become a significant cultural centre for the deaf community in the British. Many deaf people move to Derby because of its strong sign language-using community. It is estimated that the deaf population in Derby is at least three times higher than the national average, and that only London has a larger deaf population. The Royal School for the Deaf on Ashbourne Road provides education in British Sign Language and English.