Traditionally, Derby is the county town of Derbyshire, although the Derbyshire's administrative centre has in recent years been Matlock. On 1 April 1997 Derby City Council became an unitary authority, with the rest of Derbyshire administered from Matlock.
Derby was awarded city status in 1977 by Queen Elizabeth II to mark the 25th anniversary of her accession to the throne. Prior to that, Derby was one of the very few towns in England that remained a town but boasted a cathedral.
Derby and Derbyshire were centres of Great Britain's industrial revolution. In 1717 Derby was the site of the first silk mill in Britain, built by John Lombe and George Sorocold after Lombe had reputedly stolen the secrets of silk-milling from Piedmont in what is now Italy (he is alleged to have been poisoned by Piedmontese in revenge in 1722). In 1758 Jedidiah Strutt patented and built a machine in Derby that revolutionised the manufacture of silk cloth. Then in 1771 Richard Arkwright built the world's first water-powered mill at Cromford, Derbyshire, developing a form of power that was the catalyst for the industrial revolution.
This was followed in Derbyshire by Jedidiah Strutt's mill at Belper (1778) and Thomas Evans' mill at Darley Abbey (1783).
Other famous 18th century figures with connections to Derby include Dr Johnson, the creator of the English dictionary, who married Elizabeth Porter at St. Werburgh's Church, Derby in 1735; the painter Joseph Wright, known as Wright of Derby, who was famous for his revolutionary use of light in his paintings and was an associate of the Royal Academy; and John Whitehurst, a famous clockmaker and philosopher. Erasmus Darwin, doctor, scientist, philospher and grandfather of Charles Darwin was also to be found in Derby and Derbyshire at much the same time, though his practice was based in Lichfield, Staffordshire.
Bonnie Prince Charlie also passed through Derby in December 1745 -- staying at Exeter House, Exeter Street(now demolished)-- on his way south to seize the English crown. He turned back at Swarkestone Bridge, however, only a few miles south of Derby.
Derby Heritage Centre, formerly the Tudor Grammar School, tells the story of Derby from Roman times till today. Derby Gaol is a visitor attraction based in the dungeons of the Derbyshire County Gaol which dates back to 1756.
Derby Industrial Museum is situated in Derby Silk Mill and shows the industrial heritage and technological achievement of Derby, including Rolls Royce aero engine, railways, mining, quarrying, foundries etc.
Pickfords House Museum was built by architect Joseph Pickford in 1770. It was his home and business headquarters. Derby Museum and Art Gallery shows paintings by Joseph Wright, as well as fine Royal Crown Derby porcelain, local regiments and archaeology.
Other famous Derby institutions include Derby County Football Club, currently playing in the Nationwide First Division. Derby County won the First Division title (then the highest achievement in English football) in 1972 and 1975. The Rams, as Derby County are known, also won the FA Cup in 1946.
Towns and villages