Monday, 15 February 2010


By the time it meanders through Derby, the River Derwent is reaching the end of it's 50 mile course. In a few short miles it will reach Great Wilne on the border with Leicestershire, and mingle its waters with those of the significantly larger River Trent.

It is really thanks to the river that Derby exists at all. The Romans built a fort on it's banks, in the area now known as Chester Green; chester being a Roman word meaning 'settlement'. The Roman fort was named Derventio. Following on from that, there is evidence of Saxon settlement, but Derby really began to grow during the time of the Vikings, by which time it was known as Deoraby, meaning 'The Place of the Deer'.

At one point in its journey through Derby, the Derwent passes behind the Council House. From the steps here, can be seen the weir, which stretches the entire width of the river, and also the Inner Ring Road (at this point called St Alkmund's Way, after the church which had to be relocated in order for it to be built).

The old bus station used to be just down from here and a walk by the river (or, in my case, usually a hop, skip and jump from step to step) was often the treat dangling at the end of a childhood shopping expedition to town. These days, I tend to walk along here much more sedately!

Footnote 16.2.10 - The weir was built across the river to form the Derwent Basin, providing an access point for the now disused (and mostly eradicated) Derby Canal, which was built to link Derby with the Trent and Mersey Canal. I will investigate this further for a later blog.

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