THE ROUTE – I.  The walk sets off from the Quad and crosses the north side of the marketplace.
 A route map is available by clicking here.

Looking across the Marketplace
Looking across the Marketplace

Excavations have revealed that the Market Place almost certainly did not come into existence until around 1100. An ancient trackway that bisected the town ran along the south side of the marketplace. Rapid expansion took place after the Norman Conquest and other markets sprang up. in the Corn Market grain was traded, and at the top end of Friar Gate, farm animals were bought and sold along with produce. A market was also developed in the Morledge, where fairs were held.


The War Memorial is made up of bronze figures on a stone plinth with a stone cross at the rear. It was unveiled on 11 November 1924, by Alderman Oswald Ling, to commemorate those from Derby who had lost their lives during the First World War. Additional plaques have been added to honour those who died during the Second World War and more recent conflicts. The memorial was repositioned, in 1994, as part of the Derby Promenade street improvement works.


A most unusual feature constructed as part of the City Council, ‘Derby Promenade’, a scheme that stretched from the Spot to the Cathedral, involving pedestrianisation of the route. The Waterfall came in for a lot of criticism, but not from the younger generation who loved it, particularly when the weather is warm and the sun is shining. Currently, the water is turned off.

II. Leave the marketplace and turn right up Iron Gate. Almost immediately go left into Sadler Gate. It is the only major street in the city to have retained its medieval street dimensions and not been the subject of widening. The majority of buildings have Georgian façades that hide building work from earlier periods.


 After the previous building was gutted by fire in 1841, the Guildhall was completely rebuilt by Henry Duesbury, grandson of the founder of the Derby China Factory. At one time the Guildhall was the home of the Council Chamber and police cells. Now the former Council Chamber with its elaborately plastered ceiling is occupied by a small theatre and concert hall. It normally holds several concerts, plays and recitals a year. At the time of writing, it is closed for ongoing repairs.


A black and white 17th century, three-storey, timbered building that stands with the entrance at right angles to Sadler Gate. It was the Meynell family who had this fine coaching inn built around 1680. The builders, Ford and Weston, added the mock-Tudor timbering as part of a decorative refurbishment in 1929. They used timber that had been rescued from other local sites.


A particularly attractive yard off Sadler Gate. Where it is possible to get a better impression of when the buildings in the street were constructed. Builders often only being concerned with changing the appearance of the front of a property and not the rear. George Yard, a narrow thoroughfare that runs parallel to Sadler Gate, provides an even better impression. 


The Strand Arcade was created in the early 1870s to replicate London’s Burlington Arcade from designs by John Story.

III.    Go over the pedestrian crossing at the bottom of the street and walk straight ahead down Cheapside. Then turn left along The Wardwick.


The former settlement of Wardwick had a church at its centre since at least 700AD. St Werburgh’s tower dates from 1610, much of the remainder being rebuilt in the 1890s. The register goes back to 1588 and it was here that Doctor Johnson, the famous author. married Tetty Porter on 7 July 1735. Sadly, the church closed for worship in the 1980s.  


Built in 1879 and financed by Michael Thomas Bass, whose statue stands in Museum Square. He represented Derby Borough in Parliament for 35 years. Derby Museum and Art Gallery were expanded in 1915, and again in 1965, when the Modernist-style building facing the Strand was added. The library has been transferred to the Council House.


Still an attractive building, but much diminished in both size and splendour following its partial demolition in 1855. Built of red brick it was the first brick building to be built in Derby and the grounds extended to two acres. For many years it was the home of the Gisborne family and the grounds extended between present-day streets, Macklin and Curzon.


The institute was founded by Joseph Strutt in 1825. It was open from early in the morning until ten at night. There were classes for reading, writing, arithmetic, drawing, music, French and chemistry for adults. A class also met weekly to discuss literary and scientific subjects. The library contained nearly 6,000 volumes and newspapers and periodicals were provided.

IV.   Continue along Victoria Street, named after Queen Victoria, to commemorate her coronation in 1837. The Markeaton Brook had until that time run openly along what was then called Brookside before it was culverted and the street given its present name. 


After the Markeaton Brook had been culverted. St James’ Lane, which was little more than an alleyway, was widened. It was paid for by the building of St James’ Hotel. It was then renamed St James’ Street and became an elegant shopping thoroughfare. In the 1990s, the street closed to through traffic and the Corn Market end was paved.


Ranby’s previously stood on the site, but like many other department stores in the country without a network of branches. it struggled financially to meet changing customer expectations. As a result, in the early 1960s, Debenhams, who had a chain of stores across the country, acquired the site, rebuilt it and enlarged the store. Currently, the site is being redeveloped.

V.    Turn right up Green Lane and then go to the left along St Peter’s Churchyard, another street to have been partly pedestrianised. Walk to the end of the street and turn right into St Peter’s Street


Designed in 1913, by Derby architect Alexander McPherson. This once-popular Music Hall has been used in recent years as a Bingo Hall. Following the decline of live entertainment, due first of all to competition from the cinema and then television. It is currently derelict.


It is not known when Derby School was founded, or who founded it. But the first mention is in a charter of Darley Abbey when the canons went to their newly founded Augustinian Monastery in 1146. Shortly after the dissolution of the monasteries, a charter was passed in 1554, for a free grammar school to be built in Derby. As a consequence, the Tudor building in St Peter’s Churchyard was erected and used as a school for three centuries. During these years, it became one of the most successful smaller public schools in the country. The premises are now occupied by a hairdresser.


Formerly Boots the Chemists, the Halifax Building Society were owners from 1975 but is now a coffee shop. This Arts-and-Crafts designed building by Albert Bromley is one of the city’s most appealing. What particularly draws attention are the four small statues in niches spaced out above the shop frontage. The statues are of Florence Nightingale, the ‘Lady of the lamp’, John Lombe a member of the family who established the Silk Mill, William Hutton who published a ‘History of Derby’ in 1791 and Jedediah Strutt, the first of a family of mill owner’s and public benefactors. 


The church was recorded in the Domesday Book and rebuilt twice in the 19th century, saw the tower completely reconstructed on the second occasion. In 1349, when one-third of the population died because of the Black Death. victims were buried vertically in the churchyard to save space.  

VI.    Walk up St Peter’s Street to the rather oddly named area, known as ‘The Spot’. It is something of a mystery as to how it got its name in the first place and although there are several theories, no one seems to know precisely.


A well-known landmark from where it is possible to look down St Peter’s Street and follow the line of the ancient north–south trackway that existed long before Derby came into existence.  A bronze statue of Queen Victoria was sited here in 1906, donated by the famous Derby Engineer Sir Alfred Searle Haslam. King Edward VII unveiled it on 28 June that year, but it was removed 22 years later to a site in front of the Derby Royal Infirmary.


Built in 1934 as the Gaumont Cinema, Derby’s first super-cinema, it opened on 17 September that year.  It was very popular with young people who apart from watching the films, enjoyed listening to the very distinctive Compton organ before it was sold to St Philip’s Church, Chaddesden. In 1965, it became the Odeon and later the Trocadero and was finally known as the Cannon, when it closed its doors for the last time in December 1988. In recent years, it has been regarded as one of the best nightclubs in the Midlands, with a capacity of 2,820. It was a restaurant named Cosmo for several years.

VII.  From The Spot walk in an easterly direction along London Road and enter Derbion, the city’s main shopping centre. Continue to maintain the same direction through the centre before turning left opposite Derby Theatre. Walk through the indoor market to the  East Street exit where the Morledge is on your right. If access is not available use the door onto Traffic Street and once outside, turn left and then left again into the Morledge and then left into East Street. 


Formerly known as Derby Playhouse, it was offered the site in the Eagle Centre by the City Council, as part of the new shopping development. Following a period of financial problems, the theatre was forced to close. It re-opened again in 2009 under the ownership of the University of Derby and is used as a professional and learning theatre.


East Street was formerly known as Bag Lane and was an important route, which connected the space in front of St Peter’s Church with the Cock Pitt. The street has now been pedestrianised and in the centre sits the statue of the Derby Ram, between Albion Street and Exchange Street, where the Co-Op used to take up most of the space.


The statue was created in 1994 by sculptor Michael Pegler. The ram has played an important role in Derby Regimental history since 1858 when it first became a mascot. According to military history, the commanding officer of the regiment saw a fine ram tethered in an Indian temple yard. He acquired the ram, which was the beginning of a long, illustrious career for the animal and its successors.

VIII. Opposite the Ram Statue turn right into Exchange Street. At the end of the street opposite Osnabruck Square go to the right along Albert Street and then turn right again into the Morledge.   


The Corn Exchange was built in 1861, opening the following year. Following long-standing complaints that corn dealers were obstructing the footpaths in the Corn Market. It became the Palace Theatre of Varieties in 1897 and 22 years later the Palais de Danse. During the 1900s, it contained luxurious lounges, tea and supper rooms. In 1929, the Derby Evening Telegraph took it over for offices before leaving fifty years later.


Named after Derby’s twin city in Germany, a stone pillar in the centre of the square announces that the German city is 500 miles away. The fish market that once stood in the square was demolished in 1981, and re-sited in the Lockup Yard off the Cornmarket.


In 1154, King Henry II granted Derby a charter which gave the town the right to hold markets. As a consequence, Derby developed a tradition of holding a weekly market for cattle, sheep and pigs. Until 1861, markets were held at the Morledge, when they were moved to the Holmes, on the northern side of what later became the bus station. Shortly after its centenary celebrations in 1962 when the Inner Ring Road was constructed. The market moved again to a purpose-built cattle market on Chequers Road which is now closed.


The Crown Court in St Mary’s Gate closed in 1989 and was transferred to the newly built Crown Court on the Morledge. Following the closure and several years of uncertainty, the old County Court has been replaced by the city’s Magistrates Court.

IX.    Return from the Morledge and walk through Osnabruck Square. If entry to the Market Hall is closed continue down the side to reach the Quad and the start of the walk.


The Borough architect and surveyor designed the covered market Hall in 1864. It had a spectacular vaulted roof using iron from a nearby foundry. The Market Hall opened for business on 29 May 1866, when it was given a rousing welcome with a gala concert and choir who sang the Messiah. It has recently been the focus of significant redevelopment.

X.   The galleried Market Hall is worthy of close inspection. Before leaving over the wooden cobbles and re-entering the marketplace and returning to the starting point of the walk.