The Slums of Derby

Willow Row, Old Derby

If you lived in the West End of Derby in the 19th century, you were considered to live in the slums.  It is here that the families I’ve researched lived mainly in what was known as court housing (see Discover Liverpool for a good explanation of this type of housing).

An article on the Derby Telegraph site mentions that this area was part of an 1849 report to the General Board of Health on “The Sewerage, Drainage and Supply of Water and the Sanitary Conditions of the Inhabitants of Derby”;

 In Willow Row, Court 1, 103 inhabitants shared two privies and residents reported that milk would turn to curd when mixed with water from the communal pump…

Observations of Walker Lane, where 75 cases of typhus fever were reported between June 15 and September 14, 1847, were: “The houses are of the most inferior description and the inhabitants of a piece with their houses; to crown all, there are lodging houses, which are the principal headquarters of vagrants, and of those comers and goers who, for reasons best known to themselves, prefer darkness to light.”

Model of Court Housing via National Museums Liverpool

It is in these conditions that Hannah Bates, William Lamb (& their families) lived most of their lives.  The slum clearances of the 1930s mean that the court housing is now long gone but it’s important to keep these living conditions in mind when researching the people of the area and trying to understand their lives.

2016 map of Derby (old street layout  in black)



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2 thoughts on “The Slums of Derby

  1. Hello – I’m interested in learning more about the old West End of Derby and the slum clearances of the 1960s. Do you have any information. In particular, Goodwin Street, Chapel Street and Brook Street. Thanks, Tom

  2. Hi Tom,
    I, too, am interested in learning more but unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a lot of information available (not online at least). When I was at the Derby Local Studies Library last year, one of the (very helpful) workers there seemed to have knowledge on this subject so if you’re nearby you could ask there.
    All I know is in this post (and the links) but I’m particularly interested in Goodwin Street as well so please let me know if you find out anything!

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