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What & Who is Derby famous for
This page features historical information about what & who Derby & Derbyshire is famous for.

Some of the things on this page will be ONLY be famous to those people
that currently or used to live in Derby, but some are famous around the world!

If you would like to see hundreds of photos of areas of Derby, Derbyshire or the Midlands
then click on the main index button at the bottom of this page.


Matthew Walker
40% of all Christmas puddings eaten throughout the world are Matthew Walker ones!
Matthew was the son of a Derbyshire farmer and started selling fresh fruit, jams, bottled fruits and country style wines from Mr Hodgkinson's shop in Derby Market place in 1880. With the introduction of duty on wines, the business declined and he went over to the production of plum puddings and mincemeat. These took off in a big way and he opened a factory in Exeter Street in 1899 where he sold Christmas puddings to the discerning palates in Britain and world-wide.
The business grew steadily and when Matthew Walker died in 1944, the business was run by his son John. In 1968 John Walker sold the company which was moved to its present home in Heanor.
After several changes in ownership, the Heanor factory became part of Northern foods in 1992. The company supplies many supermarkets' own brands as well as their own much loved range of puddings which are sold in countries throughout the world.
Each year the factory produces around 20 million puddings, each one taking up to 4 days to complete.

Hazlewood Pickles
William Hazlewood, the founder of Hazlewoods Foods was born at Holbrook in Derbyshire in 1883.
In 1902 he Collected jam jars from neighbors in a handcart and made pickles and jams in a wooden shed at 22 Erasmus St, Derby. By 1904 he had a greengrocery business in Derby to retail the products. In 1916 the Hazlewood & Company was formed.
By 1921 he was manufacturing Beetop Sauce named after the Bee Hive public house run by William's parents in Belper.
In 1928 the factory moved to Great Northern Road, with its own vinegar brewery.
In 1932 he opened a second factory on Parcel Terrace (Rowditch), Derby which included a bottle and carton making facility. This site was known as 'Empire Works' but known locally as the pickle factory.

The Great Northern Road site closed in 1953 when William died. Manufacture at the Parcel Terrace site ended in the late 1980's. In 2001 Hazlewoods Foods were acquired by Greencore Group plc.
Today the former Hazlewood Pickle factory site has seen a new lease of life with redevelopment by Ivygrove Developments costing £2.8M with over 120,000 sq ft of industrial units.
Some of the companies located here in February 2007 are Time24, Bristol Bending, CD Northern Group, Phillips Joinery, Walrus office equipment, Robinson Fabrication, Lanzettas and Joinery Solutions (Derby).

Just think those pickled onions you eat in the 80s were probably bottled on this very site.

Jedediah Strutt 1726-1797
Born in Newton-by-Blackwell, Derbyshire. He created the 'Derby rib' stocking frame in 1758, this created a ribbed tighter fitting stocking, revolutionising the hosiery industry.

Joseph Wright 1734-1797
Wright was born in Derby in 1734 and was educated at Derby free grammar school. He went to London to learn the art of portrait painting and on his return started picking up commissions for his work. He was influenced by the experiments being carried out in Derby by members of the Lunar society, such as Erasmus Darwin, John Whitehurst, and the pioneer industrialists like Jedediah Strutt and Sir Richard Arkwright, all of whom he painted. His wonderful paintings can be seen in the Derby Museum & Art Gallery.
His most famous painting is "The Orrery", which is well worth seeing.

Joseph Pickford 1734-1782
Joseph Pickford, was one of the counties finest architects, was born in 1734. Pickford arrived in Derby after completing an apprenticeship in London working on Horse Guards in Whitehall and the University Library in Cambridge. Joseph Pickford had many prestigious commissions, including Calke Abbey, Foremark, Kedleston, Chatsworth, Longford, Darley and Markeaton Halls, Friargate and St Helens House.
His great work can be seen to this day.

Robert Bakewell 1682-1753
Bakewell was born in Uttoxeter in 1682 and was apprenticed to the world famous gatesmith Jean Tijou, who was responsible for the wrought-iron work at Hampton Court and Chatsworth. Bakewell moved to Melbourne and created the Birdcage Arbour at Melbourne Hall. A few years later he moved back to Derby and set up a forge in Oake's Yard just off St Peter's St. From here he created some of the finest wrought iron work in the country. His work can be seen throughout Derbyshire. If you would like to see some of his work then vist Derby Cathedral or Etwall Almshouses.

George Sorocold
Sorocold was born in 1668 in Derby. He was a pioneer hydraulic engineer who gave Derby one of the first piped water systems in the country. He then went on to engineer eighteen similar systems in other towns and cities in England. He made the river Derwent navigable in 1721, which brought prosperity to the town.
He also built the Silk Mill which is now Derby Industrial museum.

Anthony Babington 1561-1586
Babington was a wealthy Derbyshire landowner, with a manor house at Dethick and a large town house in the centre of Derby. This house was located at the bottom of Babington lane where it meets St Peter's Street. For a while he was a page to Mary Queen of Scots at Sheffield Castle, where he fell in love with her. Anthony plotted to murder Queen Elizabeth the first so that Mary would be Queen but the plot was discovered and he was hung, drawn and quartered.
The Anthony Babington coat of arms can be seen today adorning the top of the building at the bottom of Babington lane (Waterstones).
Next time your go down town, See if you can spot the two baboons on a barrel.

Florence Nightingale 1820-1910
Born in Florence but lived at Lea Hurst, Derbyshire. During the Crimean war she forged a friendship with a Derby girl called Margaret Rickman whose father George was the first stationmaster at Derby. When she returned from the war she gave advice on treating infections to Dr William Ogle, Chief physician at Derbyshire General Hospital. This highlighted the inadequacies of the building. A wing of the infirmary was named in her honour.
There are several statues of Florence to be found in the City.

Benjamin Outram 1764-1805
Benjamin Outram, one of the most remarkable civil engineers of the early Industrial Revolution, was born in Alfreton, Derbyshire, the son of a land agent.

Outram was an assistant to William Jessop on the Cromford Canal but soon became a leading engineer and eminent canal surveyor. When the Derby Canal Act was passed on 1793 Outram supervised its construction. The canal was completely opened to navigation on 30th June 1796. It originally ran from the River Trent at Swarkestone to the Erewash Canal at Sandiacre via the Trent and Mersey Canal at Swarkestone Lock.

He went on to work for the Nottingham and Nutbrook canals in the East Midlands, the Ashton and Peak Forest canals in the North West, and the Huddersfield Narrow Canal, a major trans-Pennine route, as well as numerous smaller schemes. Outram also developed an improved system of horse-drawn railways, using L-section cast-iron plate rails on stone sleepers, and supervised the construction of several hundred miles of such lines including many feeders from collieries to nearby canals.

In 1790 Outram established and ran the Butterley Company, the largest coal and iron concern in the East Midlands. This company was to export cast iron products all over the world.

Erasmus Darwin 1731-1802
Erasmus Darwin was a successful physician noted for his radical views on almost everything but especially on biology where his speculations about the nature of evolution were similar to those of J.B Lamarck, believing that species modified themselves by adapting to their environment in a purposeful way.

Darwin was born in 1737 at Elston Hall in Nottinghamshire. Educated at Cambridge and Edinburgh, he opened a successful medical practise at Lichfield and turned down an offer from George III to become his personal physician in London, preferring to move to Derby which he used as a base for his extensive travels. While in Litchfield, he made the acquaintance of many distinguished men, among them Joseph Priestley, Jean Jacques Rousseau and Samuel Johnson.
Darwin was a co-founder of the Lunar Society, an informal intellectual group, along with John Whitehurst, the Derby clock maker and scientist, Joshuia Wedgewood, James Watts and others. Later he formed the Derby Philisophical Society which became a rather more formal off shoot of the Lunar group and closer to home.

Darwin was married twice, and lived in Full Street, Derby for a time before moving to Breadsall Priory where he died in 1802.
His grandsons were Charles Darwin, naturalist and noted for his The Origin of Species and the biologist Francis Galton.

Jane Austen 1775 - 1817
Jane Austen was an English novelist, the daughter of a clergyman. Today she is regarded as one of the great masters of the English novel.

It is generally believed that Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice was partly written in Bakewell which she calls 'Lambton' in her novel, possibly staying at the Rutland Arms in the centre of the town.

John Flamstead 1646-1719
His family lived in Queen Street, he was educated in Derby Free Grammar School and was interested in Mathematics and astronomy. In 1676 Charles II commissioned Christopher Wren to design an observatory at Greenwich, where Flamstead could have a permanent base for studying the stars and planets.

John Whitehurst 1713-1788
John served his apprenticeship with his father as a clockmaker and moved to Derby around 1735 where he set up a shop in Irongate, becoming not only a very notable clockmaker but also a mechanical engineer, hydraulicist, home improver and meteorologist. He also played an important part in the development of the steam engine. Amongst his friends were Benjamin Franklin, inventor and American patriot, who stayed with him on three occasions at his house in Derby. He left Derby to go to London and become the first "Stamper of Money Weights" at the Royal Mint.

Charlotte Bronte 1816 - 1855
Charlotte Bronte visited her close friend Ellen Nussey whose brother Henry was the vicar of Hathersage in 1845. She stayed for three weeks at the vicarage, around the same time that she was writing Jane Eyre, which was published in 1847.

The name of the heroine in the novel and descriptions of places seem to tie in with the Hathersage locality. Her description of Thornfield Hall, 'three stories high, of proportions not vast, though considerable; a gentleman's residence, not a nobleman's seat; battlements round the top gave it a picturesque look', seem to match that of the 15th century manor house of North Lees Hall. 'Morton' in her book is possibly a rename of Hathersage.

Henry Mosley Stevens 1856 - 1934
Henry or "The Hot Dog King", was born in 1856 in the Litchurch ward of Derby. In 1877 he married a Mary Wragg and they setup home on Russell Street (now demolished) where they had three children. He set up a greengrocers and supplied the then new Normanton Barracks with milk.
In 1890 he moved his family to the U.S.A. The innovative snack proved a hit and when cartoonist Thomas Dorgan called it a
'hot dog' in a famous cartoon, the name stuck. America's love of the Hot Dog was born in Derby !

Audley Bowdler Williamson (1916 - 2004)
Audley was born in Heanor in 1916, In 1947 he invented the well known cleaning product Swarfega. Swarfega is a brand of heavy-duty hand cleaner, manufactured by Deb Ltd.


Swarkestone Bridge
The 13th century bridge at Swarkestone is the longest stone bridge in England.

Saint Mary's Bridge chapel
It is one of only six left in England, built in 1326.

Derby cathedral
The bells housed in Derby cathedral are the oldest ring of 10 bells in the world.


Royal Crown Derby China
In 1750 William Duesbury a China enameller came to Derby, He set up a porcelain factory on Nottingham Road. Due to his hard work and skill his factory grew and his fame spread to the extent that his porcelain could be found in the best houses in Europe. He later made royal figures in blue and gold enameling, One was of King George III. The king was so taken by this that in 1775 a Royal Warrant was received and the right was granted to use the name Crown Derby.

Rolls Royce (Henry Royce 1863-1933, Charles Rolls 1877-1910)
Sir Henry Royce & Charles Rolls re-located their factory from Manchester to Derby due to the lower price of land, lower wages, and the amount of skilled labour and engineering in the town and the central location of Derby.
Rolls-Royce gave and enormous boost to employment and prosperity in Derby.
The Manchester factory was closed down in 1910, which was when Charles Rolls was killed in an aeroplane accident. They built their first aero-engine at the beginning of the first world war, when the government requisitioned the R.R. factory at Derby. This engine was the Eagle which was fitted into many allied planes in the war. During the second world war they produced the Merlin engine in great numbers. At the end of the second world war they created the Welland jet engine. If you would like to learn more about the history of Rolls-Royce then it’s worth visiting Derby Industrial museum.

Tatlers - Printers on Abbey Street, Derby.
Tatlers was founded in 1926 by William Tatler and his son Jack, They originally worked from home at 234 Burton road. In the mid 1930's they moved to the present Abbey street premeses which was originally built as a Silk mill.

Thorntons - Manufacturer of Fine chocolates based in Belper, Derbyshire.
Well known for their fine quality chocolates.

Denby Pottery - Manufacturing pottery since 1806 at Denby
in 1806 a seam of clay was found at Denby during the construction of a road to link the industrial towns of Derbyshire. William Bourne, a local entrepreneur, examined the clay and recognised its exceptional qualities.

Production of salt-glazed pottery was started at Denby in 1809 and William gave the onerous task of running the business to his youngest son, Joseph.

Known as 'Joseph Bourne' the pottery prospered and soon built up an international reputation for its quality bottles and jars. These bottles held anything from ink, polish and medicines to preserves and even ginger beer.

For more info visit the Denby Visitor website HERE

Nixons Clothing Ltd - Jeans retailer on Abbey Street, Derby.
Nixons was established in Derby in 1945, they stock Levi's,Wranglers and Lee and try to keep the prices as low as possible as they are out of the town center.
It is a family run business, Tony Holmes (MD) and his wife Helen run it together.
There used to be five shops in Derby, but for various reasons they closed, one being that they could not get the seconds and thirds (Levi's started to manufacture abroad)
Nixons always aim to give a friendly service.

Visit their website to order on-line by clicking HERE

Alf James Joke Shop
If you were a boy growing up in Derby then it's a fair bet that you have heard of Alf James's Shop where you could buy such things as smoke bombs, stink bombs, fake spiders.
Ronald England took over the Alf James Joke Shop in 1984 in Green Lane before moving to his current premises further down the same street at number 34 in 1994.
Alf James was established in the 1930's.
It closed down in June 2003

Golden Gains Toy Shop
This was one of those traditional toy shops that sold toys you can't seem to find anymore. Golden Gains used to have two shops in Derby, one in the Wardwick and the other one was at the Spot. Many a happy childhood memory was had there - Leggo, Slinkys, Chemistry sets, Mechano etc. Good old toys that children would love, alas no more!

R.F. Potts Specialist stockists of electrical/electronic components & Computer related items.
If you live in Derby and have ever or are currently into Electronics as a hobby then there is a shop, which I can almost guarantee you will have visited at some point, that shop is R.F. Potts on Babington Lane.
This shop sells electronic components as well as many other things. Despite this being what you might think of as an unusual thing to sell, Potts has always been in my memory as a shop, which is full of customers, sometimes to the extent that you cannot get in the shop.
It is currently run by Robert and Tony Potts. The R.F part of the name stands for Robert Fisher.

Originally Potts was on the corner of Clarence Road/Stanton Street in Normanton and moved around 1930's to St Thomas's road and then in 1939 it moved to its current location at 66-68 Babington Lane in the town centre.

Charnos - Fine lingerie manufacturers based in Ilkeston.
Founded in 1936 by Mr Charles Noskwith, the company initially manufactured fine gauge, fully fashioned ladies stockings at Ilkeston in Derbyshire, which remains the location of the Head Office.
Today, the company is recognised as one of the main UK manufacturers of hosiery, producing over 1 million pairs of tights per week and having a prominent presence in the leading UK department store groups.
Members of the founding family still own and direct the company.

Albert Looms, Megalouton Lane in Spondon - Car breakers, Demolition contractor.
If you have ever owned a cheap ‘banger’ of a car then you would probably have made a visit at some point to Looms’s at Spondon to get some parts for it. You could spend hours searching around for the correct make and model and then struggling to free off a part you needed. These days you can get certain parts from them without having to remove them yourself, which is probably a safer way to get them.

Bennetts Irongate Derby city centre
Derby's prestigious department store, Bennetts, began life as an ironmongers and hardware store in the 1730s, and has since developed its range of products and services to become one of the region's most highly regarded department stores.
For more information click HERE

Midland Hotel - Midland Road, Derby
Opened in 1841. Queen Victoria who stayed twice during the 1840's. The dinner menu served to her Majesty's party in 1849 is still displayed in the cocktail lounge today. The Duke of Edinburgh dined at the hotel with the High Sheriff of Derbyshire and other local businessmen in 1964, and Princess Alice attended a luncheon for St Johns Ambulance in the 1980's. More recently we have been pleased to welcome two Prime Ministers and Cabinet Ministers as well as many captains of Industry and famous faces from the worlds of sports and entertainment including Cliff Richard, Dame Vera Lynn, Sir Norman Wisdom to name but a few.

Drinking/ Night Clubs

Brunswick THE "real ale" pub
The Brunswick on Station Approach was one of the first ever pubs in England which was purpose-built to serve the railway workers on the estate and was also one of the county's earliest commercial hotels. It has the widest range of regular and guest beers in the East Midlands. It has won many awards for its micro brewery. The brewery has been run by Trevor Harris since 1991. In this time he has produced 180 different beers.
A CAMRA winner !

The Mile
This is one of those of those things that I think everyone may have done at some point in their life. It consists of visiting every pub along Ashbourne Road starting at the Markeaton Island and working towards town.
The first pub of the mile used to be The Derbyshire Yeoman but this was demolished in 1988 (now a MacDonalds). So now the first pub is the Travellers Rest.
There are around 20 pubs and bars along this route into town, this is a popular thing for Hen & Stag nights, whose participants can often be seen staggering down here on a Friday night.

Pink Coconut
The Pink Coconut on Colyer Street Derby was THE nightclub in it's day. It has now been replaced with Destiny and Elite nightclub. The Coconut used to have a over 25's night on a Wednesday night.


Ellen MacArthur - Yachtswoman
Round-the-world yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur from Whatstandwell, Derbyshire was awarded the MBE by the Queen. On 5th November 2000 she set off on her journey around the world alone in her yacht Kingfisher

Derby County Football Club
The Rams played their first match at the Baseball ground on March 19th 1892 against Sunderland. They played at the baseball ground until 1997 when they moved to Pride Park stadium after being promoted into the premiership league.
They have remained in the Premiership league until the end of the 2001-2002 season.


White Town
White Town (aka Jyoti Mishra) had an international No. 1 with "Your Woman" in 1996.
It shot straight in at Number One on Sunday, January 19. It is only the fourth ever previously uncharted act to achieve the feat. Indian-born computer enthusiast Jyoti Mishra, 30, recorded the track, taken from the EP 'Abort, Retry, Fail', on an eight-track studio at his home in Derby. Jyoti was born in Rourkela in India, and his family moved to Derby when he was only three.
See the White Town website HERE

James Morrison
James was discovered in Ryan's bar in Derby. His demos were picked up by Polydor.
James Morrison's MySpace has a lots of info about him and what he is up to. There is also
The official James Morrison website. His debut album "Undiscovered" was one of the biggest albums of 2006.

Television & Film

Goodbye Mr Chips filmed at Repton, Derbyshire.
Goodbye, Mr. Chips (1939) is the British-made, classic, sentimental tale of much-loved British schoolteacher guiding many generations of schoolboys through almost 60 years of education at the fictitious Brookfield School. For authenticity's sake, the picture, from MGM's British studio, was filmed at the Repton School that was founded in 1557, with actual students and faculty serving as extras in the cast.

Peak Practice filmed at Crich, Derbyshire.
The long running Television series Peak Practice is set in Cardale (a fictitious village in the Peak District). It follows the everyday lives of the doctors that work at the Beeches surgery and the patients that they treat there. The programme has a strong sense of community and its idyllic country setting is very appealing.

Visit the website HERE for more information on this programme.

Women in love filmed at Elvaston castle and many other Derbyshire places
Directed by Ken Russell in 1969 Glenda Jackson won Best Actress in the Academy Awards.

Sir Alan Bates, Alan was born in Allestree in 1934 and appeared in more than 50 films.
Sadly he died on 27th December 2003.

The League of Gentlemen filmed at Hadfield, Derbyshire.
This surreal comedy televison series was filmed in various locations in Hadfield in North Derbyshire.
If you would like to visit the filming locations visit this website HERE, which gives details on how to find each location.

Visit the website HERE for more information on this comedy show.

Tim Brooke-Taylor
Born in Buxton Derbyshire on 17th July, 1942
Best remembered in The Goodies but has had many other starring roles...
1962-67 On the Braden Beat
1966-67 The Frost Report (co-writer)
1966-67 At Last the 1948 Show (also producer)
1970-80, 1981-82 The Goodies
1984-88 Me and My Girl
1987 You Must Be the Husband
Twelve Plus One,The Statue,Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again; I'm Sorry, I Haven't a Clue, Hello Cheeky, Does the Team Think?, Loose Ends, The Fame Game, Hoax.

Judith Hann
Judith was one of the main presenters on the popular science programme Tomorrow's World, which has been running for many years on the BBC.


Well Dressing
The delightful Derbyshire custom of well-dressing is said by some to originate in the 14th century when many Derbyshire villages were stricken by the Black Death. The village of Tissington was spared, and this was put down to the exceptional purity of the local well-water. By way of thanksgiving, the precious wells were bedecked with flowers then and thereafter. The true practitioners of this rustic art use only natural materials found locally, and living materials at that.


From Derby Town to Derby City
Derby was given City status in 1977 during the Queen's silver jubilee in 1977
Only 13 towns have been given the honour of "City status" since 1905.

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