Derby the Cross Roads of History

Over the past 28 years of trying to promote the city of Derby through its rich history and heritage. I have frequently been accused of “gilding the lily”.

When conducting tours around the city folk often shout “rubbish don’t believe a word, he makes it up as he goes along”.

If referring to Derby Silk Mill as the Birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. The decision for Bonnie Prince Charlie’s army retreating back to Scotland changed the course of World history .The Earl of Derby was one Night Templar If Sir Henry Royce had not created The Merlin Engine  we would have lost the Second World War. The Battle of Derby took place in 917. A Derbyshire man was responsible for the Execution of Mary Queen of Scots, then I plead guilty, but I need a lily in the first place and I have a tin of gold paint. All these facts are true but so few folk know about them because we do not teach local history at school.

I envisage an educational program as a five-part study project based on Derby/ Derbyshire’s History which allows students to explore our local history and famous people that have lived and visited Derby and Derbyshire. This project brings to life some of the most iconic moments of the area`s local history.  Romans, Saxons, Vikings, the Battle of Derby 917, the Derby Silk Mill, the worlds’ first public park, Rolls Royce, Railways, the age of enlightenment, scientific discovery, first and lasts in crime and punishment. Plus many famous residents and visitors including Jedediah Strutt, Joseph Wright, Herbert Spencer, Henry Royce, Bonnie Prince Charlie, Benjamin Franklin, Charles Dickens, Mary Queen of Scots, Dr Samuel Johnson, Daniel Defoe, Charles Darwin and many others.

Our local history encompasses most aspects of British History.

Ask most Derbyshire folk if they studied local history at school and you will receive a negative answer. This has to start in the classroom and when our children grow up with that knowledge they may well do a better job of preserving and telling the story of “Derby the Crossroads of History” and Derbyshire, “Land of the Ram”. This interactive based project entails three classroom study sessions with two field trips, which provide the learning opportunities for children right across the educational spectrum from primary school to university.

  • The First project covers Romans, Saxons & Vikings the Roman settlement at Chester Green, Saxon Derby, Viking Derby strategic headquarters of the Danelaw and the Battle of Derby in 917.
  • The second project covers Mediaeval, Tudor, Stuart and Georgian times. Derbyshire connections with famous battles such as Hasting, Agincourt and Culloden.  The Derby Ram, The wool trade, Bess of Hardwick, The Monastery’s, Mary Queen of Scots, The Babington Plot, religious persecution, King Charles I, The Civil War, Bonnie Prince Charlie, The Industrial Revolution, Mills, Mining and scientific discovery.
  • The Third project covers Victorian, Edwardian & modern. crime and punishment, Railways, Queen Victoria, The Crimean War, Florence Nightingale, Rolls Royce, The First World War, Battle of Britain.
  1. The first field trip will include a visit to the Roman settlement at Little Chester. The children will dress up in replica Roman costumes interacting with an authentic Roman Soldier and learn Roman battle tactics including creating a Tortoise. Then following the River Derwent into Saxon and then Viking Derby where they will be greeted by a Saxon farmer and a Viking warrior. Re-enacting the Battle of Derby on Derby Market Place and learning how to make a shield wall with replica Saxon and Viking helmets, shields and swords and finishing with a visit to Derby Museum.
  2. The second field trip includes a visit to Derby Silk Mill, Derby Cathedral, and Lock up yard, the air raid shelters in the Guild Hall tunnels, Derby Gaol and Derby Museum. The culmination of this programme will be a university style award ceremony with the children wearing mortar boards and gowns to receive a Diploma in Local History. Derby and Derbyshire have been the poor relations for too long and it is time that the world knows of our existence. This can be best be achieved by informing and educating the younger generation of our incredible City and County

Brackens dale Junior School being awarded there diploma in Local History by the Mayor of Derby.

Brackens Dale Junior School Derby Richard Felix

St Joseph’s RC Primary School with Richard Felix on the field trip around Derby.

St Peter’s School meeting a Saxon Warrior in Iron Gate

St Peters School Richard Felix

What of Derby? What can we say? We haven’t actually got one single person or event that can stand alone as a slogan or logo. Our location is our main strength, everyone past through, some stayed, some went on to greater things, some were dispatched back from whence they came. This place is a truly a crossing of the wave. The signs on all roads bringing visitors in to our City say, “Welcome to the City of Derby”. Pretty uninspiring stuff, really.

What the sign should say is,


If you would like more information on this exciting project.

Phone 01335360882 or Email me at

Regards Richard Felix

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