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City Centre Streets 2

Iron Gate

Iron Gate is another of Derby's ancient roads, also following the line of the north-south trackway, and it's suffix probably indicates a link to the towns period under the Danelaw. It is likely that the street was laid out about 1100 and it's name took its present form about 1483 and simply meant 'street of the iron workers'. Originally a narrow medieval road it was widened in the 1860's and 70's when it's East side was demolished and new buildings created.


This picture shows Irongate as seen from the Market Place, looking towards the Cathedral. The buildings on the right were erected following the widening of the road.


This unusual looking building can be found on Irongate. Now an estate agents, it was once the home of celebrated 19th century photographer and printer, Richard Keene. The extensively glazed upper floor indicates that this served as his photographic studio. Keene was an early convert to photography and had established his own portrait studio by 1859. An associate of Fox Talbot, winner of numerous awards and a founding member of the Derby Photographic Society, Keene was also responsible for many of the 19th Century photographs of Derby and its surroundings.

The memorial to the cities most famous artist - Joseph Wright of Derby. Placed near to the site where he was born in 1734, the sculpture is representative of the subject featured in his most famous work - A Philosopher Lecturing On The Orrery, which can be seen in Derby Museum along with a large number of his works

Ornate detailing on the roof of the Standing Order Public House. This grand building was originally erected in 1870 for the Crompton and Evans Union Bank, later becoming a branch of the Nat West.

The building is listed Grade II and, despite now being a pub it retains many of its period features and grandeur.

One of the few remaining original shop fronts in the city, however the council is currently running a wonderful scheme to encourage shop owners to remove modern shop fronts and reinstate historically accurate copies of the original frontages. Those that have been done so far look extremely impressive.



Victoria Street/Albert Street/The Strand

Up until the early part of the 19th century the Markeaton Brook had remained an open waterway through the middle of Derby, however this, along with the still extant medieval street plan and narrow streets was restricting the growth of the town. The solution was to culvert the brook beginning with Victoria Street in 1839, and Albert Street in 1848. The scheme was eventually extended to incorporate the area subsequently known as the Strand in 1878. The creation of these new streets enabled the building of some extremely fine buildings.


Originally the offices of the Derby tramway Company, the building below, on the North side of Victoria Street was designed in 1903 by Alexander MacPherson and built by Messrs Ford & Co. After the demise of the tram company the building had a number of uses, including offices for a bus company and is today Derby's Post office.


This large building in the next few pictures, part stone and part stucco was put up in 1839 to the designs of R Wallace and was originally the Royal Hotel and the Atheneum Rooms. No longer a hotel, the building provides retail and office space.


This building on the corner of Victoria Street and St James Street was erected in 1869, in the renaissance style and for over a century functioned as the towns General Post Office. Closed in the 1990s it has since been converted into a Coyote Wild pub.


This gracefully curving building was built for the Ranbys Dept store in the 1960s to the designs of Evans, Cartwright &Woollatt. In the 1970s it was taken over by Debenhams. Currently standing empty it awaits a sympathetic buyer.



The Wardwick

The Wardwick is arguably one of the oldest street names in the city possibly dating back over 1000 years to a Saxon farmer named Walda.

Soon after arriving in the area the Saxons established a settlement by the side of the Markeaton Brook at what is now the site of St Werburghs Church. Nearby, a settler named Walda established a dairy farm, known as a Wick in the language of the day. Over time Wanda's Wick was corrupted, being recorded as Walwick Street in 1085 and eventually becoming today's Wardwick.


This lovely building, listed Grade II, stands on the corner of Wardwick and the Strand. It was for many years the home of the Refuge Assurance company, however it is now the Revolution Vodka Bar


The picture above shows the tower of the Central Library and the corner of the Mechanics Institute.

The library, also shown below, was built in 1879 to the designs of the architect R K Freeman of Bolton in a red brick Gothic style. It was extended on its left side in 1915 in a similar style and again some years later. This latter addition forms what is today Derby Museum and Art Gallery which holds the worlds largest collection of Joseph Wright Paintings.


The Mechanics Institute was formed in 1825 by, amongst others, the industrialist Joseph Strutt, with the aim of promoting the spread of knowledge among the people of Derby through a range of activities including lectures, concerts, and displays and was particularly aimed at the working classes of the town. Their first exhibition was held in 1839 and they also had regular guest speakers including a visit by Charles Dickens. The Institute moved to new purpose built premises in 1881 and it is this grand building that can be seen in the picture to the right. Sadly the building has now been converted into a pub although the design does show the grandeur of the interior quite well.


Statue of Michael Thomas Bass of the famous Burton Brewing family and Member of Parliament for Derby 1848-83. A philanthropist in the great Victorian tradition Bass contributed to the building of the library and his statue now stands in Museum Square next to the building he helped to create. The statue is made of bronze and was created in 1885 by the sculptor J. E. Boehm and stands on a stone plinth.


The red brick building in the photo above is the Wardwick tavern. Originally built as a private townhouse for the Alsop family in about 1708 it was later acquired by local Alton’s Brewery who used it as a boardroom for their directors. Alton’s was later taken over by Ind Coope who used the building as their headquarters before converting it into a pub in 1969. Fortunately Ind Coope saw fit to preserve much of the interior including a wonderful stone fireplace.

In 1842 the Markeaton Brook which used to flow through the centre of town, burst its banks in what has become known as the Great Flood. On the outside of the Tavern, to the left of the door, is a metal plate which indicates the height that the water reached – 4’6". A more detailed history can be found in the Pubs, Inns and Taverns section of this website.