Welcome to the Derby Heritage Forum Web Page

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 Last update 21st January 2021

Alan Gifford has submitted a revue of the industrial use of the Holmes

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Ron McKeown
Ron created the Derby Heritage Forum website to report on the activity of it's members. Ron wrote the Heritage Column in The Derby Trader free newspaper until the paper closed in May 2008. Ron has written a controversial book, The Rivers of Time, containing his research into the historic water levels around Derby and the effects of these levels on the development of the town. The research also indicates the evolution of Nottingham and the whole of the Humber flood plains, which is most of the central eastern region of England. Importantly, the evidence in the book is suggesting that the Medieval Warm Period was warmer than today and that this caused higher water levels in the Viking Period.

Also on the subject of Global Warming Ron's last book contained an investigation of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles for evidence of higher sea and river levels during the Medieval Warm Period. In it Ron is suggesting that higher temperatures are normal and that the Little Ice Age has confused the Climate Scientists causing them to think that lower temperatures are normal. If Ron is right then we can expect average temperatures to continue to rise and for sea and river levels to follow.

Kevin Archer

Kevin was Head of the Art department at St. Ralph Sherwin school in Allestree, Derby in 1974 and worked there until he retired in 1997. On retirement he began to produce historic maps of the County of Derbyshire. Littleover was the first map and following its popularity several more followed. Kevin has published a book based on the 1852 map and this is now available.

Brian Nash
Brian is a heritage investigator and has a number of projects ongoing and has carried out investigations of Markeaton Park amongst others. Information on Brian's investigations can be found at his web site.

Alan Gifford
Alan was chairman of Willington History Group from 1998, when it was formed, until 2015. He is now the first ‘Honorary Life Member ‘ of the Group. The history group meets monthly through the winter and spring. Alan has large collection of material and old photos about the village and has published a booklet 'The lost Gentry of WILLINGTON' which traces a major family to Vancouver in Canada.

For the past 8 years Alan has been researching the 18th century Derby water engineer George Sorocold and has had some of this work published on an Inst Civils web site.

Alan's main interest for past 40 years has been wind and water mills and he has published the two definitive Derbyshire books on these. Alan is a founder trustee of Heage Windmill Society and was one of the leaders in its restoration to working order in 2002. He is still active in it's Growth to a major tourist site and has written several books on this mill. Alan has given many talks on mills and Sorocold to local groups and is a regular contributor to Bygones in the Derby Telegraph newspaper.

Andrew Bailey
Andrew spent most of his working life as an aircraft engineer in the RAF and now gives talks all over the midlands to ex service groups on the history of several aircraft types.

On moving back to Derby with his wife Rita he spent 10 years, 4 of them as chairman, as a member of the Chaddesden Historical Group before joining the Derby Heritage Forum some 5 years ago. Andrew published an anthology of Chaddesdens History and still writes articles for Local History sites as well as for various Historical Aircraft Groups. He is an active member of the East Midlands Airport AeroPark Museum where he looks after their Nimrod R1 aircraft, a type that he worked on during his 22 years in the RAF. He is also a member of the Derbyshire Historical Aviation Society.

Andrew is currently writing articles from the notes of his old friend Derek Palmer, one of our founder members who diedin 2019.

Rita Bailey
With a keen interest in local history Ritas' overriding passion is family history having researched her own and Andrews family back to the 16th century. She has undertaken research for others and has recently retired as secretary for a local WI branch. Whilst with this group Rita wrote, directed and produced a short film on the last 100 years of education to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Derby Federation of Womens Institutes. She has travelled round Derbyshire showing this film to WI members.

During some research into local history Rita discovered the location of a previously unknown water mill dating back to the year 1294 on the Derwent River in an area of Chaddesden known as Beaumont Acre. She has published a paper on this subject. Rita has researched the history of the Derwent Isolation Hospital and gives a Power Point supported talk on the subject.

As the result of a request for information regarding the famed mining engineer James Ashworth, who developed an advanced safety lamp that could detect miners damp, Rita has written and published a book detailing his life, his achievements and his time living in Chaddesden. She also gives talks on this subject to interested groups. When relaxing from research Rita is a member of a local Tatting Group and enjoys various other handcrafts.

John Ashfield
John worked for most of his life at Rolls Royce and is a keen observer of Derby History and Heritage.

Charles Penny
Charles is a Proffesional Civil/Transportation Engineer and his Qualifications include Chartered Engineer and Chartered European Engineer. He gained a BSc (Hons) in Civil Engineering from St Andrews University. Charles has a particular interest in the Rosehill area of Derby and documented information he holds promted a Forum investigation into the origins of the name 'Rosehill' and it's previous associations with the Gallows Closes.

Don Smith
Don has taught Vertebrate Biology and Evolution in universities both here and abroad. He is a keen semi-amateur geologist with a research background in vertebrate fossils. His interest in the heritage and origins of Derby started while "revising" for his O levels in the old reference library on The Strand where he came across a copy of Citizens Derby. Since retiring he has investigated in family genealogy and discovered that most have been in the Derby area since at least the fifteenth century. He now hopes to add flesh to these family names. He has a real interest in the origins of the town and its Roman history. Don is at present reviewing Ron's paper on the Dewent Valley.

Absent Friends

Book List

Follow the link for a list of books written by Forum contributors

Picture Gallery

Roman Road across Darley Playing Fields.

Floods on Darley Park in June 2007

Medieval Strips of ridge and furrow on Darley Park

Ripley branch line in 1965

The Great Northern Railway line from Friar Gate Station to Darley Park

1932 flood at Duffield

A walk around Darley and Nut Wood - Denis Eardley


Investigations undertaken by Derby Heritage Forum members are listed here. Click the link to view current projects.

Location of Darley Abbey - Report by Ron McKeown

George Sorocold and the Franceys family  - An investigation by Alan Gifford

Old East Prospect of Derby - Dating evidence - Ron McKeown - Revised December 2012

Great Bridge of Derby 13th century - Ron McKeown

Alternative Climate Change Argument - Ron McKeown. This is an argument based on documented historical evidence.

Who are the English? - Ron McKeown summarizes a few facts concerning a much debated topic.

Joan Waste - John Keys 1890 relates the burning of a young blind girl during the reign of 'Bloody Mary'

Mackworth Castle - Real or Fanciful? - Another ron McKeown report questioning the historic record.

Roman Roads at Little Chester - Ron McKeown questions the assumption regarding the direction of 'Stukelys gravel path' on the Darley Park side of the river

Was Rose Hill the Gallows? Investigation by Ron McKeown


Smelting and Rolling Mills in the middle of Derby?

Industrial use of the Holmes
- Alan Gifford has submitted a revue.

The evolution of the River Derwent, Starkholmes, the Via Gelia valley and the High Tor Gorge and their impact on the Derwent plain at Derby
This is a draft report and investigations are still in progress. If anyone wishes to contribute any facts, criticism, observations of geographical features or otherwise please feel free to Email Ron.

River Bank Works - Evidence at Darley Abbey - Ron McKeown

Navigation of the river Derwent at Darley Abbey - Ron McKeown

St Mary's Gate Mills - Don Farnsworth

Markeaton Brook revised - Don Farnsworth

Mackworth Church Armorial Glass - Don Farnsworth

Investigation into the source of the name "Derby" - Ron McKeown

The Old Mayors Parlour - From the Derek Palmer collection compiled by Ron McKeown with a twist in the tale (tail).

Material pictures - Derek Palmer.

Ditch near St Helen's - Ron McKeown

Relics train from Stewarts Lane Depot to York Railway Museum on April 12th 1975 - Ron McKeown gets nostalgic.

NOTE: For all documents in pdf format the link should open the document in your Adobe Reader program. Use your browser navigation keys to return to this page.


Want to browse an extensive collection of LIDAR images? Visit the Government collection as shown in this video - https://youtu.be/LzWWBht524g

Do you know the size of England?
You may be surprised at just how small the country is https://youtu.be/OvgDw8SMkIQ

Why not join the Derby Heritage Forum on a day trip to Markeaton Park? In September 2007 Charles Clark-Maxwell, the Lord of the Manor of Markeaton, went to meet The Lady of Markeaton. The following link takes you to You Tube. Markeaton Lady

The Myth of The Old Mayors Parlour can be found at www.youtube.com/watch?v=J71wSKCJhK8

Have a quick look at what happens in Winster Wakes week.

A trip on the Manifold Valley railway https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWZbZGGnE6E

A new video here from a local director, Roland 'Roly' Keates, with an interesting take on presenting our Roman past. Well worth watching.

Sit in on a talk by Derek Palmer. 'Derby Beneath Your Feet' at St Edmunds Church Hall at Allestree.

Chris Harris recorded the return of the Florentine Boar to the Arboretum. Chris was an avid researcher of the Derby Arboretum but regrettably passed away before writing up his findings.


Follow the link below to a list of interesting sites.

Web Master and owner of Derby Heritage Forum site - Ron McKeown