‘The setting for Pride and Prejudice, Arcadia and countless female fantasies, Derbyshire is the place to ride to if one is in search of a brooding man in a damp shirt.’
An inspiration to a host of 19th Century novelists, Derbyshire’s characters have perfected the smouldering looks, wistful sighs and heaving bodices demanded from a piece of ruff and fumble period drama.
Endowed with a clutch of dusty period houses, the county’s landscape is ideally suited to taking long, agonised walks through the countryside while discussing one’s marital intentions.
Derbyshire’s refined grace is blighted only by the boorish presence of Mr Derbeh. Otherwise blessed with towns whose names roll around the tongue like a fine claret – Swadlincote, Buxton, Glossop – the county is badly let down by its only city which, were it a drink, is a discount bin can of supermarket lager. However, Mr Derbeh’s role in Victoriana should not be dismissed, as the city is perfectly cast in the role of an oafish mutton-chopped landlord, flatulently ogling the bonnets of high-class ladies who mistakenly choose his grubby tavern for shelter.
Derbyshire’s people yearn for the simple pleasures of days gone by, passing the time staring balefully out of windows at manicured gardens, having awkward and stilted conversations, or enjoying a bracing shag with the maid in an under-stairs cupboard. It brings them little consolation that modern times have at least reduced the risk of encountering the popular Victorian disco entertainer Scarlet Fever.
- TRANSPORT: Mr Trevithick’s Most Precipitous Locomotion Machine
- EDUCATION SYSTEM: Getting caned by schoolmaster; getting caned on morphine
- LIFE EXPECTANCY: 60+ years (rich); About 35 years too long (poor)
- COMMON AILMENTS: Cholera, typhoid, swoons
- CULTURE: Miss Waverley’s piano recitals
- CLIMATE: Mild summers, cool winters, frosty dinner table conversation
2nd Century – Romans develop the spa town of Buxton, imposing the first ‘No Petting’ rules after the Family Swim sessions started to get out of hand.
1717 – After mastering the art of stealing from the Italians, John Lombe builds Britain’s first water powered silk mill in Derby. Angry Piedmontese merchants make their own breakthrough five years later, mastering the art of successfully poisoning John Lombe.
1745 – Bonnie Prince Charlie abandons his attempt to seize the British crown in south Derybshire and begins the return journey to Scotland at the back of his tired army unaware he has a ‘Kick Me’ sticker on his back.
1876 – Bored Derby MP Samuel Plimsoll introduces bills for a number of marine safety measures after he realises no-one is interested in listening to his suggestions about landlocked Derby.
1900 – The Labour movement wins one of its first ever seats in Derby, overcoming the ‘New Labour, New Danger’ campaigning of Whig opponents.
1972 – Derby County win the league Championship for the first time, with the club’s manager Brian Clough later attributing the team’s success to the nightly prayers he makes to Brian Clough.
1991 – The world’s biggest ever bowl of popcorn is prepared at UCI cinema in Derby’s Meteor Centre. Using over 100kg of corn, the bowl is garnished with the usual two squirts of butter, instantly winning it a second world record for the world’s driest snack.
Fun time – Are you a Victorian?
In 1876, Britain ruled over a powerful empire. A hundred years later, it lost a war with Iceland over whitefish. Take this quiz to find out if you have the spirit of the Empire, or just drink the spirits of the Empire.
You’re in charge of a major bridge-building project, which must be completed within 3 years. It takes you:
- A – 2 years?
- B – 7 years?
- C – 25 years, after which the bridge falls down?
You’ve just arrived at a remote island on holiday. What is the first thing you do?
- A – Plant a flag and claim the territory for Queen and country.
- B – Find somewhere that offers a decent cup of tea.
- C – Put on a football shirt and try to find a pub that does egg and chips.
You’re feeling very unwell, and may be not long for this world. What do you do?
- A – Lie in bed looking pale, croaking profound last words and weakly holding the hands of loved ones.
- B – Remember you haven’t written a will yet.
- C – Tweet regular updates on your condition.
- As – You’re Victorian, and should purchase a top hat immediately.
- Bs – You’re the reason this country keeps going, albeit in a fairly shambolic way.
- Cs – You’re basically useless. When everything breaks down – thanks to morons like you – you’ll be there, crying and eating mud.
Did You Know?
Ashbourne is known for its boisterous two-day Shrovetide Football Match, using the town as the pitch with the goals three miles apart. The brief rulebook states that manslaughter is illegal and that any player removing his shirt after scoring a goal must receive an automatic booking.
Derby’s Bold Lane Car Park has been described as one of the most secure places in the world. As such, the building plays a key role in guaranteeing the safety of the country’s precious collection of K-reg Metros.
Actor William Roache, who plays Ken Barlow in long-running soap Coronation Street, was born in Ilkeston. He currently holds the world record for an actor continuously wearing the same expression, having looked vaguely constipated since the show began in December 1960.
Despite being home to a number of strategically important industries, Derbyshire suffered comparatively little damage during World War II. Some say this was due to the jamming of German navigation systems, but experts believe German pilots fly past assuming the job had already been completed.
Derby has won plaudits as a centre for the deaf community. Many people with impaired hearing choose to move to the city thanks to its tolerant attitudes, widespread use of sign language and enduring hatred of guide dogs.