Denby Parish Council

Serving the people of Denby

The History of Denby

The name Denby (Denebi in the Doomsday Book) means 'the Village of the Danes'. In 1334, Lord Grey of Codnor obtained a Charter for market on Thursdays, and a fair for two days at the Festival of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, which falls on the last weekend of September. The market has long since gone but the Annual festival is still celebrated with church services.

John Flamsteed, the distinguished first Astronomer Royal, was born at 'Crowtrees', Flamstead Lane, Denby Village, in 1646.

Over the years, Denby has provided a rich source of minerals, coal, clay and ironstone. Col has been mined in the Parish since the thirteenth Century. Denby Old Pit and Winnings Pit were sunk in the 1800's. Shafts at New Denby, Salterwood and Ryefield pits followed later.

The high quality of Denby coal was evident as far back as 1870, when copper ore was brought from Staffordshire by pack horse to be smelted in the parish, probably at the entrance to the present Cricket Club, hence the name. 'Copper Yard'.

From 1794 to 1909, most of the coal was transported by wagons drawn on a narrow gauge railway or 'Wagonway', direct from the pit head to a wharf on the canal at Little Eaton, where it was loaded onto barges and taken to Derby. The railway engineer was Benjamin Outram, one of the founders of the Butterley Company, and the railway was known as 'Outrams Railway' of 'Gangway'.

In 1806,a turnpike road was built from Derby to Alftreton (now the B6019) and a bed of clay was uncovered. The clay bed was leased to William Bourne by William Drury-Lowe, the local landowner.
In 1809 , his son, opened the pottery 'Joseph Bourne and Son'. The name was changed to Denby Tableware Ltd in 1976 and still continues to be a thriving company within the parish.

Iron ore was worked in the parish in very early times by outcropping ironstone layers. In 1860, four blast furnaces were erected at Smithy Houses by the Denby Iron and Coal Company Ltd and when all four furnaces were working, the output was over 1,200 tons a week.

Denby can claim to be the birthplace of Tarmac used on roads. In 1903, the wagon carrying several barrels of tar fell off and burst, covering a stretch of road with wet tar. To cover the spillage, it was covered with slag debris from a nearby blast furnace. The road remained free of both dust and wear and started a product which was to revolutionise road making in the country.

Farming has played an important part in the parish over the years, and continues to do so.