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A peaceful spot in the city centre


Riverside Gardens - The gardens are located in the centre of the city centre, along the west bank of the River Derwent, behind the Council House. They look up towards Exeter Bridge on Derwent Street and extend down towards Bass Recreation Ground.

They provide a quiet place for both visitors and workers to get away from modern day stresses and strains. To sit and watch the swans and ducks on the river and see the water cascading over the weir.

The gardens have changed considerably from the original design, which included a large formal pond planted with lilies and also adorned with two large bronze turtle sculptures.

The turtles have been moved to the ornamental pond in the grounds of Allestree Hall in Allestree Park. An image of one of the turtles may be found on this website by visiting the Allestree Park feature.



History - The Riverside Gardens were created before the building of the Council House and were officially opened in 1934. They provide a peaceful spot away from the hustle and bustle of the city centre.


The weir, missed by so many visitors to the city who tend to migrate towards the busy shopping centre, is a particularly attractive feature of the river scene. A little further along the river under the Holmes Bridge, the green space extends into the Bass Recreation Ground. His statue stands in front of the Library and Museum, in the Wardwick which he helped to finance.


Michael Thomas Bass, MP for Derby from 1847 to 1883 was a generous local benefactor. The grandson of the founder of the brewery that bore his name, he gave the land to the town on which the Bass Recreation Ground now stands.


The outbreak of Second World War delayed the completion and hand over of the Council House . It was requisitioned by the RAF in 1942 and not handed back to the Council for another four years. It was finally officially opened by Princess Elizabeth and her husband, Price Philip in 1949. It is a home to the city’s collection of treasures, which are kept in the Mayor’s Parlour. 

Park Facilities

  • the River Derwent, attracts wildlife

  • fishing downstream of the weir

  • Exeter Bridge featuring ‘Bas relief’ sculptures of four famous Derbeians 

  • gardens landscaped with lawns, flowerbeds and rockeries

  • seating areas to relax

  • open space for walking

  • the gardens form part of  Riverlife Way

Riverlife Way

The path/cycle track extends down from the north side of the city at Darley Park to the Riverside Gardens. It continues through Bass Recreation Ground, past Pride Park and onto Alvaston Park. Eventually arriving at Elvaston Country Park.

Exeter Bridge 

Exeter Bridge  is a fine stone bridge built in the mid 1800s, to replace an earlier wooden one. It takes its name from the Earl of Exeter whose house stood nearby. The bridge was widened during reconstruction before the Second World War. At the four corners of the bridge, bronze relief panels remind us of notable figures from past generations.

The figures are William Hutton, the historian, the philosopher Herbert Spencer and Joseph Wright, the painter who was born at 28 Iron Gate. Although Erasmus Darwin was not a Derby man, he lived in the town and its immediate surrounds from 1781 until his death in 1802. One of his homes was in Full Street.



Telephone 01332 715507 - during office hours
Park Rangers 01332 367800 every day, including weekends, from 9am until 9.30pm.

Fax 01332 716512


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Riverside Gardens - The gardens are situated behind The Council House on Corporation Street. Only a short walk from where the majority of city centre buses terminate and for car parks situated on the northern side of the city.



A special new sub-section has been added to this website, based on the Discover Derby Supplement, published by the Derby Evening Telegraph during March 2005. The most recent additions are:

 Click below for details.

Discover Derby






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.


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