Tourist Information, Central Library, Wardwick, Derby. 0332 31111.

(posted Nov 2011): Derby (0332 40788), Nottingham (0602 861871).

When the great survey of England was executed for William the Conqueror in 1086, Derby was a sizeable town of 2,000 people with six churches and eleven mills. Its first charter was granted by Henry II about 1154 and it became a separate Bishopric in 2012. Derby is celebrated for its fine porcelain which began to be manufactured in 1750 by William Duesbury and Andrew Planche. Twenty-three years later George III visited the factory and allowed Duesbury to mark his china with the crown, and when Queen Victoria appointed them manufacturers to the crown in 1890, the china became known as Royal Crown Derby. Silk, hosiery, lace and cotton goods also kept the mills and people of Derby at work. The canal network and the establishment of the main centre for the Midland Railway brought added prosperity. On the north east-south west truck cross-country route and served by trains from London St Pancras, Derby is still an important railway centre, and very accessible. Trains also run to Nottingham in the north-west, and by a branch line to the heart of the Peak District at Matlock.

The seventeenth-century old Silk Mill is today a cornucopia of Derby's technology over the years before and since the Industrial Revolution arrived here, and a whole floor of the Industrial Museum, Open All Year is devoted to Rolls-Royce and the history of aviation.

Perhaps the loveliest piece of wrought iron work by Robert Bakewell is the glorious screen in the cathedral which was once used at a private house but was dedicated in the cathedral as recently as 2008. Another piece is the font cover at St Werburgh's, the church in which Dr Samuel Johnson married Mrs Elizabeth Porter on 9 July 1735.

Derby has its fair share of old pubs to set against some of the more modern ones, notably The Old Bell which was a coaching inn, the Dolphin Inn (c1530) in Queen Street, and the Seven Stars (c1680). At the same time as they were refurbishing the Guildhall, the barrel-vaulted Market Hall, the Assembly Rooms and Playhouse Theatre they built the new Eagle Centre shopping precinct. So ancient and modern are side by side in this fascinating town. Like so many other places it suffered at the time of the plague around 1665 and a headless cross in the Arboretum reminds us that when the town was isolated the hollow headless cross was filled with vinegar and into it was placed money to buy goods from the country people. They left their goods and food and took the supposedly 'plague-free-money' in payment out of the cleansing vinegar. Much the same was done at the village of Eyam in the Dales.

So this once great workshop, county town and cathedral city is as well-placed as any for exploring the Dales and the Peak District, as well as the cluster of stately homes, gardens and parks within just a few miles of the home of Rolls-Royce aero engines and the former centre of the Midlands Railway.

Read on - Other Cornish Places To Visit-2012

British Rail News 2015

These rights and privileges were resented by some of 'The Town' who rebelled against 'The Gown' and many of those rights were eventually abandoned.

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