Spring 2019 Featured Articles

TheDerbeianMag

FEATURED ARTICLE FOR THE SPRING 2019 EDITION OF THE DERBEIAN MAGAZINE: 1977 A MOMENTOUS YEAR FOR DERBY & THE 1930'S DECADE
AND DERBY OLD SCHOOL, THE CALM BEFORE WORLD WAR II

Spring 2019 | THE Derbeian

This occurred on 1st July 1931 when His

Royal Highness Prince George (known

as the Duke of Kent) visited Derby

having been officially invited to open

what was to become Darley Park to the

people of Derby.

The press photograph from the Derby

Evening Telegraph shows Prince

George accompanied by the then

Commanding Officer Capt. Ernest

William Gillard (later to be awarded

the MBE for services to the Home Guard

organisation during WWII) of the Derby

School Officers Training Corps (OTC)

inspecting the pupils having been

invited as guard of honour. This was a

truly unique occasion as the guard were

allowed to fix their bayonets to their

rifles in order to give the royal salute.

The very fact this huge parkland was

bought by the Council was certainly a

means towards providing the citizens of

Derby with a large public open space.

Prior to the royal opening of the

Darley Park to the general public it was

privately-owned parkland belonging

to the owner of Darley Hall owned by

the Evans family who were in residence

there. An interesting fact is that during

the World War II years and immediately

afterwards, Darley Hall became the

home of Central School for Boys which

originally came from Hastings Street

School via Abbey Street School for Boys.

They eventually moved to the Henry

Cavendish School on Breadsall Hill Top,

when the name changed to Da Vinci

Community School.

Until 1931 therefore this parkland

surrounding Darley Hall and extending

southwards down towards the Strutt

Park which formed the Gisborne and

later the Strutt Estate based upon St.

Helen’s House on King Street. Darley

Hall was part of the Evans Estate who

owned and built the Darley Abbey

Mills complex (often known as the

Boars Head Mills) in 1778; Samuel Evans

originally bought the waste land on

the opposite side of the river, opposite

Darley Abbey village, and built the mill

originally solely powered by water mill

machinery. Originally the Evans family

lived in Darley House looking towards

the mills but in 1835 they bought Darley

Hall with its surrounding acres with the

added benefit of bordering the river

The Darley Abbey Mills on the East bank of the river Derwent.

Derwent and the family lived here for

many decades. When the last of the

family died, an Ada Evans in 1929 Darley

House and its parkland was bought by

Derby Corporation as a large public

open park.

Derby School Officers

Training Corps

This decade under the microscope

was a bonus one for the School’s OTC

in that numbers of pupils volunteering

grew considerably and with the

formation of a Band section became

very popular. Certainly, having the

same Commanding Officer,

Captain and later Major E.W.

Gillard MBE for the whole decade

was a wonderful achievement.

School OTC Band members 1939 outside ‘B’ Block.

Below we have one of the original

OTC cap badges which is greatly

treasured.

OTC Cap Badge showing the ‘Bishop Mitre’

from the school’s badge plus in two of the

quarters of the shield the ‘Buck in the Park’

emblem of Derby Corporation.

The Old Derbeian Society | 41

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