Derby at Work
People and Industries Through the Years
Series: At Work
- Maxwell Craven
15th August 2017
Straddling the Derwent River, the cathedral city of Derby, its foundations in the Roman occupation of Britain, can directly attribute its contemporary status to the Industrial Revolution. Spinning mills proliferated from the eighteenth century, initially relying on water power to produce 100 per cent British cotton cloth. Victorian ingenuity and innovation became synonymous with the rapid industrial and commercial expansion that ensued; Arkwright and Pickford became household names. Derby quickly evolved into a transport and ancillary manufacturing hub in the Midlands, becoming a centre for the British rail industry and the assembly of the iconic Rolls-Royce luxury motor car. The subsequent development of the Rolls-Royce Merlin aircraft engine, which powered the legendary Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane, launched the company’s proud status to what it is today: the world’s second largest manufacturer of jet engines and, together with the Toyota car assembly plant, the biggest employer in Derby.
Derby at Work explores the life of this East Midlands city and its people, from pre-industrial beginnings through to the present day. In a fascinating series of contemporary photographs and illustrations, it takes us from the days when cotton and spinning were cottage industries, through the Industrial Revolution, the traumas of the war years and into the technologically advanced world of today, showing how Derby has successfully transformed itself from a cotton town into a major manufacturer of cars and jet engines.