Derby Arboretum

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Derby Arboretum


The restored Grove Street Lodge and "Grand Entrance" at the northern end of the Arboretum
Type Arboretum and public park
Location Derby, England, United Kingdom
Coordinates 52°54′52″N1°28′29″W / 52.91432°N 1.47471°W / 52.91432; -1.47471 Coordinates: 52°54′52″N1°28′29″W / 52.91432°N 1.47471°W / 52.91432; -1.47471
Area 7.5 hectares
Created 1840 (1840)
Founder Joseph Strutt
Designer John Claudius Loudon
Operated by Derby City Council

All year

Type Grade II*
Designated 4 August 1984
Reference no. 1000677

Derby Arboretum is a public park and arboretum in the city of Derby, England, located about 1 mile (1.6 km) south of the city centre in the Rose Hill area. It was opened in 1840, following the donation of the land by local philanthropist Joseph Strutt, and to designs by John Claudius Loudon. It was the first publicly owned, landscaped, urban, recreational park in England. After many years of neglect, the Arboretum was extensively refurbished in the early 21st century with the aid of a Heritage Lottery Fund grant of almost £5 million. It is listed as Grade II* on the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest in England. [1]

Arboretum botanical garden containing living collections of woody plants intended at least partly for scientific study

An arboretum in a general sense is a botanical collection composed exclusively of trees. More commonly a modern arboretum is a botanical garden containing living collections of woody plants and is intended at least in part for scientific study.

Derby City and Unitary authority area in England

Derby is a city and unitary authority area in Derbyshire, England. It lies on the banks of the River Derwent in the south of Derbyshire, of which it was traditionally the county town. At the 2011 census, the population was 248,700. Derby gained city status in 1977.

Joseph Strutt (philanthropist) English businessman and philanthropist

Joseph Strutt (1765–1844) was an English businessman and philanthropist, whose wealth came from the family textile business. A native of Derby, Strutt was a radical social reformer who made significant donations and founded several important institutions in the town, including donating the land for the creation of Derby Arboretum, England's first urban public park. He twice served as Mayor of Derby.



Derby Arboretum opened in 1840 and is often described as "Britain's first public park". Although green spaces and common lands had existed previously, as had private parkland and gardens, the park in Derby was the first to be deliberately planned as a place of public recreation in an urban setting. [2] [3]

The Arboretum was donated to the town in 1840 by Joseph Strutt, a former mayor of Derby and member of a prominent local family of industrialists. A noted philanthropist, Strutt was grateful to the working people of Derby for the part they had played in helping him and his family amass their fortune, and wanted to convey his thanks by providing a much needed recreational facility for a rapidly expanding and urbanising area. Strutt commissioned John Claudius Loudon to design the park, and Loudon adapted Strutt's original plans for a botanical garden and pleasure grounds to his own vision, incorporating landscaped walkways.

John Claudius Loudon Scottish botanist

John Claudius Loudon was a Scottish botanist, garden designer and author. He was the first to use the term arboretum in writing to refer to a garden of plants, especially trees, collected for the purpose of scientific study.

Botanical garden well-tended area displaying a wide range of plants labelled with their botanical names

A botanical garden or botanic garden is a garden dedicated to the collection, cultivation, preservation and display of a wide range of plants labelled with their botanical names. It may contain specialist plant collections such as cacti and other succulent plants, herb gardens, plants from particular parts of the world, and so on; there may be greenhouses, shadehouses, again with special collections such as tropical plants, alpine plants, or other exotic plants. Visitor services at a botanical garden might include tours, educational displays, art exhibitions, book rooms, open-air theatrical and musical performances, and other entertainment.

Work on the Arboretum commenced in July 1839, and was completed in time for the grand opening which took place on 16 September 1840. The occasion was marked by a parade from the Market Place in the centre of Derby to the new park. The park initially charged for admission, in order to pay for its upkeep. However, admission was free on Sundays and on Wednesdays (which had been adopted as half day closing in Derby). This mean that the working classes, who had limited leisure time and probably lacked the means to pay admission, could gain free access to the Arboretum when they actually had the time to do so; in effect, the park was paid for by those who had time and money to spare to enjoy the facilities. Free admission times continued to be extended until charging was finally abolished in 1882.

In 1859 the Arboretum was one of a number of parks visited by Frederick Law Olmsted while on a research tour of Europe, and it is thought that he may have incorporated features of Loudon's work into his design for Central Park in New York.

Frederick Law Olmsted American journalist, social critic, public administrator, and landscape designer

Frederick Law Olmsted was an American landscape architect, journalist, social critic, and public administrator. He is popularly considered to be the father of American landscape architecture. Olmsted was famous for co-designing many well-known urban parks with his senior partner Calvert Vaux, including Central Park in New York City and Cadwalader Park in Trenton.

Central Park Public park at the center of Manhattan in New York City, New York, United States

Central Park is an urban park in Manhattan, New York City. It is located between the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, roughly bounded by Fifth Avenue on the east, Central Park West on the west, Central Park South on the south, and Central Park North on the north. Central Park is the most visited urban park in the United States, with 40 million visitors in 2013, and one of the most filmed locations in the world. In terms of area, Central Park is the fifth largest park in New York City, covering 843 acres (341 ha).

A scene from Ken Russell's 1969 Oscar-winning film Women in Love was shot at the Arboretum. The scene had the Aslin designed band stand with a brass band playing whilst Oliver Reed, Alan Bates and Glenda Jackson spoke. The Easter Pavilion had received a coat of paint for the occasion, this was the last work on the building until 2005 when it was fully restored.

Ken Russell British film director

Henry Kenneth Alfred Russell was a British film director, known for his pioneering work in television and film and for his flamboyant and controversial style. His films in the main were liberal adaptations of existing texts, or biographies, notably of composers of the Romantic era. Russell began directing for the BBC, where he made creative adaptations of composers' lives which were unusual for the time. He also directed many feature films independently and for studios.

<i>Women in Love</i> (film) 1969 British film directed by Ken Russell

Women in Love is a 1969 British romantic drama film directed by Ken Russell and starring Alan Bates, Oliver Reed, Glenda Jackson, and Jennie Linden. The film was adapted by Larry Kramer from D. H. Lawrence's novel of the same name. It is the first film to be released by Brandywine Productions.

Oliver Reed English actor

Robert Oliver Reed was an English actor known for his upper-middle class, macho image, hellraiser lifestyle, and "tough guy" roles. Notable films include The Trap (1966), playing Bill Sikes in the Best Picture Oscar winner Oliver! (1968), Women in Love (1969), Hannibal Brooks (1969), The Devils (1971), portraying Athos in The Three Musketeers (1973), Tommy (1975), Lion of the Desert (1981), Castaway (1986), The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988) and Funny Bones (1995).

Notable landmarks

The Arboretum's fountain, designed by Andrew Handyside The fountain in the Derby Arboretum - - 1101279.jpg
The Arboretum's fountain, designed by Andrew Handyside

Over the years the Arboretum has incorporated a variety of buildings, statues and ornaments. Perhaps the best known locally is the Florentine Boar statue, which was originally placed on the site in 1806, when the land was Joseph Strutt's private garden. Strutt had commissioned William John Coffee, a Crown Derby sculptor, to make an earthenware copy of the bronze statue which he had seen when he once visited the Mercato Nuovo (New Market) in central Florence. The earthenware boar remained in place after the creation of the Arboretum until it was damaged (actually decapitated) during a German air raid on Derby on 15 January 1941. [4] [5] [6] However, a claim was reported in January 2002 that a Derby resident had, as a child, accidentally broken off the boar's head while climbing on the statue. [5] The current statue is a bronze replacement dedicated in 2005. [7]


Il Porcellino is the local Florentine nickname for the bronze fountain of a boar. The fountain figure was sculpted and cast by Baroque master Pietro Tacca (1577–1640) shortly before 1634, following a marble Italian copy of a Hellenistic marble original, at the time in the Grand Ducal collections and today on display in the classical section of the Uffizi Museum. The original, which was found in Rome and removed to Florence in the mid-16th century by the Medici, was associated from the time of its rediscovery with the Calydonian Boar of Greek myth.

W. J. Coffee British artist and sculptor

William John Coffee (1774–1846) was an internationally renowned English artist and sculptor who worked in porcelain, plaster, and terra cotta. He also worked in oil paint, although this was not the medium for which he became famous. His early career was as a modeller for Duesbury at the china factory on Nottingham Road in Derby, England. The latter part of his life was spent in America.

Florence Comune in Tuscany, Italy

Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with 383,084 inhabitants in 2013, and over 1,520,000 in its metropolitan area.

Other past and present features of the Arboretum include:

The Arboretum today

The new bronze copy of the Florentine Boar, by Alex Paxton. This statue replaces the one destroyed in 1941 Arboboar2006.jpg
The new bronze copy of the Florentine Boar, by Alex Paxton. This statue replaces the one destroyed in 1941

In recent decades, vandalism and lack of investment had left the Arboretum in a state of seemingly terminal decline, however this process has been reversed in the light of the recent injection of Lottery money and a determination locally to return this important historic landmark to its former status. Ornaments and buildings have been restored and new ones added. After a long running local campaign, a new bronze replica of the Florentine Boar statue, produced at cost by a local engineer, Alex Paxton, was finally put in place in November 2005.

Other new features include the Heart of the Park building, incorporating community rooms, a café, public toilets and changing rooms for the adjacent sports facilities (basketball courts, cricket net and two astroturf five-a-side football pitches).

The Rose Hill Recreation Ground is an extensive modern playground catering for all age groups of children that has been created within the park.

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  1. Arboretum Archived 27 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine .,, accessed 30 November 2008
  2. Wallop, Harry (3 October 2015). "Britain's public parks: 175 years old, but will they survive?". The Telegraph. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
  3. Kirby, Dean (30 August 2015). "Derby Arboretum: How Britain's first public park inspired open spaces around the world". The Independent. Retrieved 11 October 2015.
  4. Derby Arboretum,
  5. 1 2 Florentine Boar,
  6. 1 2 Destruction of the Victorian Bandstand and Florentine Boar,
  7. The Arboretum Today,