The Geography of Derby



Derby City is in the south east corner of the county of Derbyshire, in Trent valley. Along with Nottingham and Leicester it makes up the sub-region of the East Midlands, Derby is the smallest of these three cities. The world map reference for the city is latitude 52o55’ north and longitude 1o28’ west. The River Derwent is the main river running through it and is one of the few geographical features for this city, which is, by and large, flat and featureless. The average elevation in the city centre is around 50 metres. To the extreme east of the city, at Spondon and the extreme west of the city, at Mickleover, the elevation does rise to just over 100 metres.

The first known settlement in Derby was made by the Romans, in the district now known as Darley Dale, who built a fort overlooking the River Derwent. This quickly expanded to include a civil settlement from which the town and then city developed.  Derby was awarded city status during the celebrations to mark Queen Elizabeth II 25th anniversary of her accession to the throne in 1977. Up until 1997 Derby was the county town for Derbyshire. However, on becoming a unitary authority on April 1st 1997 the administrative centre for the county transferred to Matlock. Derby City occupies an area of about 7800 hectares and has a population density below 30 people per hectare, making it one of the country’s least crowded cities. Derby city is split into 17 electoral wards that return 56 local councillors. The city is represented in the House of Commons, at Parliament, by three constituency MPs.

Climatically, Derby has the typical temperate climate of England. Its average December temperature is just below 40C and it has an average high of 18oC in July. The main wind direction for Derby is south westerly, meaning that most of its weather systems arrive from the Atlantic. Rainfall in Derby is typical for the English midlands, averaging around 750 millimetres of rainfall a year, with an expectancy of there being some rain falling on 150 days in the year.

The surface Geology of Derby is deposits of mudstone and sandstone that are between 1 and 10 metres thick, underlying that are mainly Triassic mudstone bedrocks. To the east and north of the city these overly the Carboniferous coal measures that formed the South Yorkshire coalfields. Whilst to the north is the Derbyshire Dome of Upper Carboniferous Limestone, which marks the southern edge, or beginning, of the Pennine Way. This is also part of the Peak District which was the first National Park to be created in Britain in 1951. Walks along the River Dove, in Dovedale, are particularly popular with tourists. However, the Peak District has contributed to the economy of Derby in more ways than just tourism. It was a major area for sheep farming and the production of wool as well as being rich in minerals. The Peak District has some of the best and most diverse Geology in England. Here you can find: Limestone's, Shale's, Gritstones and Sandstones including the famous Millstone Grit. Now more or less completely worked out it was a major area for Lead ore mining and a form of Fluorspar called ‘Blue John’ that was much sought after for making jewellery. The quarrying of Limestone has been taking place in the Peak District since Roman times for building stones and the production of cement and mortar. This process continues today with over 7 million tonnes of Limestone being extracted annually, from the twelve active quarries inside the park.

Engineering is very important to the economy of the city. Apart from the Rolls Royce works the city has many railway engineering companies and the Toyota production plant nearby. Almost 35% of the population are employed in manufacturing of one kind or another, making it one of the cities in the UK where manufacturing employment is greater than public administration and health services. Derby is the beginning of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage site, which is acknowledged as being one of the places in which the British industrial revolution began in the 18th century. The combination of local wool supplies and water mills to power the new weaving looms made Derby one of the model systems for, what were then, modern factories.

The average house price in Derby city is £145, 000, with prices rising (on average) from £110,000 for a terraced house to £235,000 for a detached property. The average price for a flat in Derby is £120,000. Generally, during the period 2006-2007, house prices in Derby City rose by 10%. Compared to most of the rest of Derbyshire, house prices in the city are lower than all areas other than Spondon, to the east and Bolsover to the north east of the county. The areas of Mickleover, to the west of the city and Darley Dale to the north, are the most sought after residential areas

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