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From Anglo Saxon times, if not sooner, a small village existed at Littleover. Rykneld Street, the Old Roman Road, passes through Littleover and it is possible a settlement was set up near the road. The old village centre lay just off the main road close to the church. But as Derby expanded and the green fields separating the two became less, a battle to integrate Littleover into Derby commenced.
It was only in 1866 that Littleover became a separate parish from Mickleover, Findern and Potlock, but it was not long before its newly created independence came under threat. The arrival of the railway and industrialisation was producing rapid expansion of the population in Derby and the Borough Council began to cast an acquisitive eye towards the village. Already the chiefs of industry were starting to move out of the over crowded town into the country and some built their houses in Littleover.
In 1890 a small part of the parish was transferred to St Werburgh’s in Derby and the battle for Littleover began. The Derby Improvement Act of 1901, sought to take part of the village into the borough and divide the rest of the parish between Findern and Mickleover. This proposal was defeated with the help of Colonel Gascoyne of Fairfield House, who spent over one thousand pounds of his own money to back the village’s stand for independence.
Apart from the building of a few large houses and parks, little expansion took place in the village, until the Derby Tramway network was extended in 1908 to the parish boundary at Littleover Lodge. This presented the opportunity for the less well off to live in the country and commute to work. Twenty-five years later when the trams were replaced by trolley buses the route was extended through the village to Chain Lane.
In 1928 a part of the parish was absorbed by Derby and this enabled the Borough Council to construct the Ring Road through what had been the northern part of the parish. But in 1947 when a referendum was held, Littleover residents voted overwhelmingly to retain their independent status.
However, as Derby and Littleover continued to expand, the inevitable occurred and in 1968, the parish was absorbed into the borough. By this time Littleover had been developed considerably by the sale of the land from The Grange and Pastures estates.
Although Littleover is now a suburb of Derby, despite its size many local people still refer to it as ‘the village.’ To add credibility to this, both the fish and chip shop and one of the main food stores proudly display the word ‘village’ on their fascia boards. The expansive development on the south western side of Littleover goes one better and is known as Heatherton Village.
The view from the main road through Littleover is unremarkable, not very much different from many other suburban roads in towns and cities up and down the country. Journeying into the city, the observant may notice the rather eye catching Littleover Methodist Church at the end of Constable Drive, a modern brick building with an entrance wall of glass over the main door. From inside the church the pattern of sky and trees can be seen.
Over the road is the Old Hall, originally built as a Manor House by Sir Richard Harpur in the 16th century, which hides behind the attractive half-timbered Lodge House. The hall having been re-built over a hundred years ago is now the headquarters of the Derbyshire Fire Service. As you get closer to the main shopping area, you get a glimpse of the attractive black and white cottages at the top of Park Lane. The Half Moon Inn, in the centre of the shopping area began life as a farm and throughout the 18th century served as a coaching inn. Littleover House, at the corner of Warwick Avenue, was built in 1818 for the general manager of the Midland Railway.
The Grange, which stands behind the supermarket, like Littleover House lost its park to the developers. A large white house, it was built in the early 1800s and at one time occupied by Rueben Eastwood a local iron-founder. It was Eastwood who added the campanile so that he had somewhere to go after dinner to smoke. In the mornings the glow from his foundry, which he could see in the distance, ensured that his workers were hard at work. The Grange is now in the hands of the Freemasons and the stables have been converted into a community centre.
The old part of Littleover remains largely hidden from the main road. Originally it consisted of a number of tiny houses, clustered round the church, built using mud and stone or timber framing with thatched roofs. Farming was the main pre-occupation of the villagers.
The first church to be erected in the village was possibly of wooden structure and preceded the Norman Conquest, although there is no mention of it in the Domesday Book. A small stone church was built early in the 12th century, traces of which remain. The most prominent are the Norman doorway and font.
In Church Street, directly opposite the 19th century White Swan Inn – a riot of colour in the summer with its abundance of hanging baskets, a number of interesting old houses still stand. But the oldest property in Littleover is the Thatched Cottage, which probably started life as a labourer’s cottage in the 16th century. Later it became an inn, before reverting to a private house. It is situated in the Hollow, once the main thoroughfare into the village from the south, which may well have existed before the Romans conquered Britain. Lower down the road, an ancient stone trough still survives, a rarity in this part of Derbyshire.
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PLACES OF SPECIAL INTEREST IN THE LOCALITY
Markeaton Park is probably the most popular park in the East Midlands with an estimated one million visitors per year to its numerous attractions and special events. The former Orangery, now a listed building, has been converted into attractive tea rooms, where weather permitting, visitors can sit outside and admire the superb flower beds. A craft village now occupies what were once the hall stables. It consists of a number of individual units selling a wide range of goods, where visitors can watch skilled craftsmen at work. The village is open throughout the year, but the times of opening of individual units vary.
Trent and Mersey Canal was designed by James Brindley from Derbyshire, who although he could not read or write properly was a brilliant engineer. It was his most celebrated enterprise, and was known as the Grand Trunk. It connected canal systems throughout the country. The growth of the leisure boat industry in recent years has once again returned the canal to its former vibrancy. The restored iron mileposts are an attractive feature, set out along the towpath, they mark every mile to Preston Brook, near Runcorn, the northern end of the canal.
Coors Visitor Centre (Tel. 01283 511000) formerly the Bass Museum of Brewing, including the Coors Shires. There are excellent restaurant facilities. Café facilities are also available. Open every day except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
The White Swan (Tel. 01332 766481) is an attractive black and white pub located at the bottom of Shepherd Street. It is normally a blaze of colour in the summer with its numerous hanging baskets and tubs. Open all day, food is served daily.
Findern Garden Centre (Tel. 0800 413 213) is one of over 100 nationwide Wyedale Garden Centres. It is situated close to the southern end of Littleover on the road to Findern village. The café has recently been re-furbished. Open on a daily basis serving hot meals and snacks.
THE DISCOVER DERBYSHIRE AND THE PEAK DISTRICT GUIDE
Provides a wide range of features on towns and villages with heritage trails and detailed countryside walks, through some of the most scenically attractive countryside in the UK.
The site is expanding to include many other features of interest to the local person and visitor alike. Why not bookmark this site for future reference.
1. To return to the main site click the link below.
2. To return to the contents page of the main website click the link below.
ABOUT THIS SITE
This non-commercial website is based on Discover Derbyshire Supplements published by the Derby Evening Telegraph.
The site, my first, commenced in December 2003, and is expanding quite rapidly. Every month an illustrated Newsletter is published giving details of:
What's New, What's Coming and What's On.
For most of this extremely pleasant walk, look one way and it will seem as if you are in the countryside, look the other and you will realize that you are on the edge of the city.
The walk is approximately five miles in length and apart from during particularly wet weather is dry underfoot. There are a few gentle ascents and descents, but nothing strenuous. Starting point for the walk is the centre of the main shopping area on Burton Road at Littleover, which is south western side of Derby.