Building record MDR10289 - John Smith & Co. Ltd Workshops, Queen Street, Derby

Type and Period (4)

  • (Early 20th Century - 1920 AD to 1930 AD)
  • (Victorian - 1856 AD to 1856 AD)
  • (Stuart - 1650 AD? to 1700 AD?)
  • (Georgian - 1820 AD? to 1830 AD?)

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Full Description

John Smith & Co. Ltd, Queen Street. Ornate two storey late 1920s offices in brick with slate roof on Queen Street with works behind. Established in 1856 by an apprentice of John Whitehurst III. Smiths continued to operate here until the 1990s when they moved to new premises on Alfreton Road. (1) Former clock works, Queen Street. At the core of this important building lies what remains of the stylish Carolean house built by Derby Mercer Stephen Flamsteed, and inherited in 1688 by his son, Britain's first Astronomer Royal, Rev John Flamsteed FRS. It was acquired in 1764 by Lunar Society founder and scientist John Whitehurst FRS, who commissioned his friend Joseph Pickford, to re-front it. The earlier panelled room at the rear is almost certainly the dining room referred to in one of Whitehurst's letters, where he entertained his friends including, on at least two occasions Benjamin Franklin, James Ferguson FRS, Josiah Wedgwood and others. Whitehurst's nephew sold the house c.1790, and in 1793 it was let to the painter Joseph Wright ARA, who died there in 1797. Within 30 years it had been split, the southern portion becoming the Acorn Vaults, a pub closed by Temperance Society pressure c.1908. The larger portion was a house acquired in 1856 by John Smith (1813-1886), the first clockmaker of that family, and a former Whitehurst apprentice and employee. His firm remained on the premises until 1999. In 1908 they acquired the Acorn Vaults , which were then demolished to improve access to the yard, several workshops having been built on the garden by this date. In 1926-28 the Council decided to widen Queen Street, and Pickford's facade was taken down and the further-reduced building refronted in 1928-9 by C H Aslin FRIBA, the newly appointed Borough Architect, who was a close friend of Howard Smith, the firm's then managing director. Part of the 17th century roof survives at the rear, as does Pickford's staircase, albeit seriously mauled. Further early oak panelling , probably earlier 17th century but of uncertain provenance, survives in the entrance hall. (2, 3)

Sources/Archives (3)

  • <1> Bibliographic reference: Fowkes, D (ed.). 2003. Derbyshire Industrial Archaeology. A Gazetteer of Sites. Part VII. City of Derby.. p 17.
  • <2> Unpublished document: 2007. 'Derby Civic Society Suggested Local List Additions', Derby Civic Society Newsletter. No. 85, pp 15-26. p 23.
  • <3> Bibliographic reference: Derby City Council. 2010. City of Derby Local List.



Grid reference Centred SK 35132 36638 (14m by 11m)

Related Monuments/Buildings (0)

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Record last edited

Nov 16 2017 10:22AM

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