20th Century Derby

1900 AD

Derby elected the first English Labour MP in 1900 – Richard Bell.

1901 AD

Derby’s population stood at 118,469.

1904 AD

Derby Corporation Tramway, the tram system serving the town of Derby, officially opened on July 27.

1908 AD

Rolls-Royce established a purpose-built factory on Nightingale Road.

1910 AD

Derby’s first cinema opened – the Victoria Electric Theatre on Becketwell Lane.

1910 AD

Another fire badly damaged the Derby Silk Mill, leading it to be rebuilt into the building that we see today.

1914 AD

On October 16, a meeting was held at the Royal Drill Hall in Derby to recruit volunteers for WW1.

1914 AD

The Hippodrome opened as a 2,000-seat theatre in 1914. It was converted into a cinema in 1930 before live theatre returned from 1950 to 1959.

1915 AD

On March 12, Private Jacob Rivers was killed in action during WW1 and was awarded the Victoria Cross.

1915 AD

On August 8, the Derbyshire Yeomanry landed at Sulva Bay, Gallipoli, during WW1.

1915 AD

On October 30, postwomen were recruited in Derby to aid with letter deliveries during WW1.

1915 AD

On December 8, the Derby Corporation decided to employ female tram conductors for the duration of the war.

1916 AD

On January 31, Derby was targeted by German Zeppelin air bombers. The raid killed five people and £13,000 of damage was caused to the Midland Railway Carriage and Wagon Works.

1917 AD

On March 6, the trial of the pacifist and anti-war campaigner, Alice Wheeldon of Pear Tree Road, began.

1919 AD

Birds the Bakers, famed throughout the city to this day, was founded by three brothers; Frank, Thomas and Reginald Bird who purchased an existing small shop and bakery at 234 Upper Dale Road.


The world premiere of the stage adaptation of Dracula by Bram Stoker took place at the Grand Theatre on Babington Lane.

1924 AD

The Derby War Memorial was unveiled in the Market Place on November 11, by Alderman Oswald Ling. Designed by C A Thompson and sculpted by A G Walker ARA it was originally erected to commemorate those from Derby who had died during the First World War. Since that time additional plaques have been added for those who died in the Second Word War and more recent conflicts.

1927 AD

All Saints Church was designated as a cathedral in 1927, signalling that the town was ready for city status.

1929 AD

In November, the Mayor of Derby opened the Derby City General Hospital (now the Royal Derby Hospital).

1931 AD

Markeaton Park was opened in June by the Duke of Kent.

1932 AD

A devastating flood hit the town of Derby.

1933 AD

Designed by Charles Aslin, Derby Bus Station was opened and was the first purpose-built bus station in the United Kingdom. The station, along with its art-deco design, was controversially demolished in 2006 with a replacement station opened on March 27, 2010.

1933 AD

Marks and Spencer opened its first store in Derby on the corner of St. Peter’s Street and Thorntree Lane.

1934 AD

The Riverside Gardens in Derby were officially opened.

1934 AD

Derby’s tram system closed.

1936 AD

Derbyshire County Cricket Club won the County Championship for the first, and so far, only time in their history.

1939 AD

Derby Airport was officially opened in June at Burnaston. Commercial flights ceased in the 1960’s and the site is now a Toyota car plant.

1940 AD

The first bombs to hit Derby during the Second World War came on June 25. Elizabeth Evans, 67, died during the raid and Elsie Hanson, 39, died six days later from injuries sustained during the raid.

1942 AD

July 27 saw 22 people killed, 40 seriously injured and 72 people suffered minor injuries when the Rolls-Royce factory on Nightingale Road was bombed.

1945 AD

On May 8, thousands of people gathered in the Market Place to celebrate Victory in Europe (VE) during the Second World War.

1945 AD

Derbians celebrated Victory in Japan (VJ) day on August 15, when Japan surrendered, effectively bringing the Second World War to an end.

1946 AD

On April 27, Derby County won the FA Cup for the first time in their history, beating Charlton 4-1 in the final held at Wembley Stadium.

1949 AD

Princess Elizabeth, (now Queen Elizabeth II), and Prince Philip opened the new Council Houses, designed by the architect Charles Aslin.

1951 AD

Derby’s population stood at 181,423.

1952 AD

The Derby Playhouse opened on Sacheverel Street. It remained there until 1975 when it moved to a new premises in the Eagle Centre.

1962 – 1963 AD

Derby suffered its coldest winter since 1740.

1963 AD

Derby Assembly Rooms were gutted by fire. The stone façade was re-erected and now stands at Crich Tramway Village.

1964 AD

Markeaton Hall was demolished.

1970 AD

Elvaston Castle Country Park was opened to the public.

1971 AD

On February 4, Rolls-Royce voluntarily entered receivership. With rumours circulating that the Derbyshire Building Society had large investments in the stricken company, large queues formed with people trying to withdraw money in case the building society itself was in trouble. Ultimately the government nationalised the business and secured its future.

1971 AD

BBC Radio Derby officially began broadcasting on April 29, 1971.

1972 AD

On May 8, Derby County were confirmed as Football League Champions for the first time.

1974 AD

On November 29, Derby’s Industrial Museum, now the Museum of Making, opened.

1975 AD

On April 19, Derby County were confirmed champions of the Football League for the second time.

1975 AD

The new Derby Playhouse, (now known as the Derby Theatre), was opened on September 20, by the 11th Duke of Devonshire.

1975 AD

The Eagle Centre, (now The Derbion) was opened on November 20, at a cost of £7 Million. Many local streets, including Eagle Street, were demolished to make way for the centre, hence its name.

1977 AD

Derby was awarded city status on June 7, 1977 by Queen Elizabeth II to mark the 25th anniversary of her ascension to the throne.

1977 AD

Derby’s third Assembly Rooms were opened in 1977 by the Queen Mother.

1991 AD

Derby’s population stood at 225,296.

1996 AD

The iconic video game Tomb Raider was developed in Derby. A section of the Derby ring road is now called Lara Croft Way.

1997 AD

On July 18 – Pride Park Stadium – the new home of Derby County Football Club – was opened.

1998 AD

In April, the original Derby Uncovered was launched.

Rolls Royce, Derby – (see 1908 AD)

Private Jacob Rivers was awarded the Victoria Cross – (see 1915 AD)

Derby Cathedral – (see 1927 AD)

Derby Flood on Sadler Gate – (see 1932 AD)