Nottingham Road Cemetery, established in 1855, was the first municipal cemetery for Derby.
The urgent need for more burial space for the city prompted the formation of the Derby Burial Board in 1853 and led to the establishment of the first municipal cemetery in Derby. Situated then in the parish of Chaddesden, between Nottingham Road and the Derby Canal, the cemetery originally occupied 32 acres (c I 3ha) of land. The buildings were designed by Henry Isaac Stevens FRIBA (1806 73), an acclaimed Derby architect with an extensive practice (Craven 1998). The grounds were planted out by a Mr Lee of Hammersmith (Derby Mercury 1855), possibly following advice from William Barron (1800 91): ‘The grounds are tastefully laid out, and planted with evergreens and shrubs, under the able inspection of Mr Barron, of Elvaston Gardens’ (Glover 1858). Barron had been the head gardener at Elvaston Castle (qv) since 1840. The cemetery was consecrated by the Bishop of Lichfield in April 1855, and opened on I May 1855 with 8 acres (c 3ha) left unconsecrated for non-denominational and Catholic use. In the first extension of the cemetery in 1880 a further 10 acres (c 4ha) were added, followed by a second extension of 9 acres (c 3.Sha) in 1898. In 1895, the Corporation took over the cemetery from the Derby Burial Board. By 1900 at least eleven gardeners were needed to maintain the grounds (Cholerton 1999). Many of the monuments in the cemetery were executed by Joseph Barlow Robinson (1821 83) who worked as a carver for Pugin & Barry on the Palace of Westminster before returning to Derby to set up the Midland Sculptural and Monumental Works. Further extensions to the cemetery occurred in 1921 and 1936. The cemetery remains (2001) in use and is maintained to a high standard by Derby City Council.
LOCATION, AREA, BOUNDARIES, LANDFORM, SETTING
Nottingham Road Cemetery is situated c 2km east of Derby cathedral on land which rises steeply from the south-west boundary, levelling off towards the centre of the site, and rising gently towards the north-north-west boundary with Nottingham Road. The area here registered, which occupies c 2lha, is bounded to the south-west by the A52, a boundary previously formed by the Derby Canal (OS 1882/3); to the west by industrial works and light industry; to the north-west by a high retaining wall which drops sharply to the south side of Nottingham Road beyond which is housing; and to the north-east by a substantial stone wall of variable stepped height running along the south side of Nottingham Road beyond which is further housing. The south-east boundary of the site here registered, which excludes the C20 extensions, runs from the Nottingham Road boundary immediately adjacent to the entrance to the cemetery car park, 335m east-south-east of the main entrance, along the north-west side of the straight drive running to a point 45Dm south of the main entrance and continuing south-west to link to the south-west boundary. This boundary approximately defines the first three phases of the cemetery, the last of which was added in 1898 (Map of Nottingham Road Cemetery, 1931).
There are excellent views to the north-west, west, and south-west across the city from the western extremity of the cemetery. The maturing of trees within the cemetery and the extension of light industry into the area directly to the south-west during the C20 has served to obscure views, particularly from and towards the formal features in the south-west part of the site.
ENTRANCES AND APPROACHES
The main entrance to the cemetery is from Nottingham Road to the north-north-west. A wide recessed entrance forms a forecourt and leads through a large carriage arch in the entrance buildings. Alongside the entrance, the finely coursed stone boundary walls, topped by stepped ridged coping, are punctuated at regular intervals by stone piers with taller stepped coping stones, reflecting the steep pitch of the roofs of the entrance buildings and the pyramidal style of the main tower. There is a maintenance entrance 120m east-north-east of the main entrance and a car park and entrance to the cemetery off Nottingham Road, 335m east-south-east of the main entrance.
The entrance buildings are in Gothic style, built in pale yellow-grey ashlar with grey slate roofs; and form a single symmetrical group ranging along Nottingham Road. Some details to the buildings are now missing, including the cruciform finials, and the spirelets which are substantially truncated (2001). The gatehouse (listed grade I consists of a central entrance archway under a three-stage clock tower surmounted by a pyramidal roof The tower has paired corner buttresses and a semicircular stair- turret. The tower is flanked on either side by short single-storey ranges which have waiting areas under the pentices on the cemetery side. These link to the lodges (listed grade II) which connect by curtain walls to the two chapels; the Anglican chapel situated on the east side of the group of buildings is still in use (2001), while the Nonconformist chapel to the west is now used as store.
The landscape in the oldest part of the cemetery remains largely as first laid out (OS 1882/3). Proceeding from the main entrance across the broad open forecourt, which was formerly enclosed (OS), the main drive curves gently downhill to the south. A dense collection of elaborate Edwardian and inter-war monuments, in white marble with detailing such as angels, urns, and open bibles is situated 30m south of the main entrance.
The main drive continues towards the south-west, lined by an avenue of mature lime trees, with one parallel route 30m distant to the east, leading from the Anglican chapel, and another parallel route 30m distant to the west, leading from the Nonconformist chapel. The main drive and the parallel routes terminate on a serpentine path which links to either end of a linear terraced promenade, aligned on a north-west/south-east axis, with grass slopes descending steeply to the south-west. The route from the Anglican chapel, part of which is now no longer in use (2001), is directly aligned with a grass mound which forms a central feature to the terrace route. The large, raised, stepped grass mound is set in a wide recessed dip located 350m south-south-west of the main entrance. The OS map of 1882/3 suggests that a single tree specimen stood at the top of the mound and that retaining walls supported the raised promenade; these are no longer visible (2001).
A path from the terraced promenade proceeds towards a broad flight of stone steps, 10m south-west of the raised mound, leading down to an area sloping fairly steeply to the south-west boundary. This is now an area of low-level maintenance with few headstones. A central path, no longer evident (2001), formerly led down from the steps to the south-west lined by a wide avenue of trees, creating a strong axial relationship with the raised mound. The path then divided into two symmetrically aligned paths, no longer evident, which connected back to either end of the terraced promenade. A short route connecting to the canal, which may have been used to provide access for building materials, for the delivery of memorial stones or even for funeral parties (MS research notes, P Cholerton), is also now gone. An avenue of mature London plane trees is all that remains from the earlier layout in this part of the cemetery (OS 1882/3).
A war memorial is situated at the south-east edge of the terraced promenade, 410m south of the main entrance. From here a route proceeds north-east in a long straight avenue, lined by mature lime trees. The route returns gently uphill in a northerly direction, past the area to the east acquired in 1898, characterised by a grid layout and structural tree avenues, towards the entrance forecourt.
Proceeding from the entrance to the west-south-west, past the former Nonconformist chapel and maintenance buildings, a tree-lined drive leads towards that part of the cemetery acquired in 1880, characterised by a grid pattern of paths and mature avenues of trees lining drives. This is the most elevated part of the cemetery and from the extreme western corner, 220m west-south-west of the main entrance, excellent views are afforded to the north-west, west, and south-west across the city and beyond.
The mature avenues of trees along the drives and in the area south-west of the terraced promenade are the remains of the structural planting shown on the OS map of 1882/3. Much of the coniferous planting shown around the burial areas at that time is now gone (2001). Avenues of trees planted in the first and second extensions of the cemetery, now mature, emphasise the grid layout of those later extensions.
Derby Mercury, 2 May 1855
Glover, Directory of the Borough of Derby (1858), pp xvi xvii
Centenary of Local Government: County Borough of Derby 1835 1935 (1935), p 66
Derby Evening Telegraph, 6 June 1987, p3
C Brooks, Mortal Remains (1989), pp 69, 131 3
Derby Civic Society Newsletter, (Summer 1996), pp 10 14
M Craven, Derbeians of Distinction (1998), pp 192 3
P Cholerton, Britain in Old Photographs: Chaddesden (1999)
Derby Borough Surveyor, Map of Nottingham Road Cemetery, 1:2500, July 1931
(Derby Local Studies Library)
OS 6” to 1 mile: 1st edition published 1880
2nd edition published 1901
3rd edition published 1919
OS 25” to 1 mile: 1st edition surveyed 1882, published 1882/3
Peter Cholerton, MS research notes, October 2001 [copy on EH file]
Description written: October 2001
Amended: November 2001
Register Inspector: JS
Edited: October 2002