England is my favorite country in the world by far—there are so many different cities to see and places to explore. Being based out of Nottingham on this trip, I’ve made it my goal to try to visit some of the nearby cities and see what they have to offer. Most of the places I’m hoping to visit are places I wanted to visit when I lived in Notts two years ago, but just never made the time for it. So, today I went to check out Derby!
Derby was one of the focal towns of the Industrial Revolution, and became a huge manufacturing center. Today it’s still known for its advanced transport manufacturing (Rolls-Royce air engines in particular), and is a transport hub in the East Midlands. While Derby seems to still be eclipsed by nearby Nottingham, the city kept me busy for the afternoon, which is really all I ask for from any daytrip!
Derby Cathedral was the main highlight for me—the church was founded over 1000 years ago, and the present cathedral was reconstructed in the 1700s. The tomb of Bess of Hardwick, a formidable, strategic, and wealthy noblewoman is the cathedral’s number one attraction.
The Derby Museum and Art Gallery was interesting and full of local connections (as to be expected with small, regional museums). The museum’s most well-known feature is the Joseph Wright gallery, a large collection of his paintings and portraits. They also had interesting exhibits on archaeology, natural history, and the military history of particular Derbyshire regiments from the Napoleanic Wars up to the present day in Afghanistan. Admission is free, although there are donation boxes if you feel like it.
Pickford’s House Museum is a Georgian home built by Joseph Pickford in 1770. The museum gives an in-depth look at everyday life during the late 18th century and early 19th century. My favorite part of the museum was the toy theater collection on the top floor, and the toilet in the Edwardian bathroom (which was open for public use). There were painted flowers inside the toilet bowl! Admission is free here as well.
Two things I missed on my trip to Derby: the Derby Industrial Museum (located in the Silk Mill), which is closed for refurbishment. I also missed the Derby Gaol, which is closed during the week except for private tours.
Derby was exceptionally easy to get to from Nottingham (the Red Arrow bus runs every 10 minutes and the journey only took 35 minutes). In terms of the rest of England, the bus station has local connections and is serviced by National Express, England’s main coach company. The train station has connections all over the Midlands, so again it’s easily accessible.
While I wasn’t blown away by Derby, I was pleasantly surprised that it had enough to keep me busy for the day. That there was free admission at several of the attractions was a nice bonus as well! My final verdict: Derby is worth an afternoon of exploring, but I wouldn’t recommend staying here for much longer. Overall, I’m glad I visited Nottingham’s close neighbor for the day.
Have you ever been to Derby or on another daytrip in England? Share your thoughts in the comments below!