‘The Church Above the Shops’: Derby’s very own Eiffel Tower?

When faced with this assignment, I decided to make the University’s Friar Gate campus the Arc de Triomphe and follow directions found online to see where Derby’s own Eiffel Tower is, giving me the chance to see the city through the eyes of someone walking through a different city. This being the city of Paris due to its beautiful scenery and vibrant culture.

The walk between the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower is roughly 25 minutes and 1.3 miles, making it the perfect route for me to plan and carry out in the streets of Derby. When planning out my walk, my chosen start point was the university Friar Gate campus due to the Arc de Triomphe being an important monument in Paris and the university being an important part (or an abstract monument) in my life. I chose the Eiffel Tower as the ending point of my walk as it is a huge part of Paris and the way we view Paris. I was intrigued as to where Derby’s equivalent is, in terms of placement and whether or not there was any historical relevance.

The beginning of my walk led me through the centre of Derby, streets filled with shops and packed full of shoppers going about their everyday lives. I walked down streets such as Cavendish Court and Corporation street, imagining that I was in Paris. I observed the appearance and characteristics of the people of derby and tried to compare them to the people you’d see in Paris and found that both places where multicultural and diverse, meaning there is a shared similarity between the two cities. The amount of shops in Derby led me to think about the up rise of consumerism and how globalisation has occurred. Globalisation has meant there has been an increase in the number of shops in Derby, which became apparent when I walked through Derby city centre, a place full to the brim of shops and restaurants.

My walk through Derby also took me past Silk Mill, the site of the world’s first factories, the Silk Mills built by George Sorocold in 1702 and 1717. The foundations and part of the tower from the mill built in 1717 are still visible today. When walking past this piece of history, I decided to go into the museum and found that the displays tell the story of the industrial revolution and the people of Derby. There is also a particular emphasis on the development of Rolls-Royce and the railway industry. Other displays cover various local industries such as mining and pottery. I was not expecting to come across this museum during my walk but found it to be very valuable as it helped me learn more about Derby and its heritage. The Silk Mill museum became a pivotal part of my walk as not only did it occur halfway through, it also helped me develop a better understanding of how far Derby has come through the process of industrialisation.

The result? The end of my walk led me to the central Derby United Reformed church, more aptly named ‘the church above the shops’ due to its unique location nestled above the busy streets of central Derby. A union was formed on 5th October 1972 between the Congregational Church in England and Wales and the Presbyterian Church of England to form the United Reformed Church in England and Wales. This particular church was founded on the 5th October 1976 when Green Lane, Normanton Road and Victoria Street Churches merged together, establishing the Central United Reformed Church. When the end of my walk led me to this church, this got me thinking about what this could symbolise to the city of Derby and this led me to believe that religion could play an important part in Derby. Religion can be seen to some people as an integral part of life due to the value it holds to them and this is especially important in such an ethnically diverse city.

This therefore poses the question, assuming the Eiffel Tower is one of the central points of Paris, is religion a central point of Derby?

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