Today it is my privilege to lead celebrations, as Derby marks forty years since the Queen’s visit to present the letters patent conferring city status in 1977.
This afternoon, I’m hosting a small reception for a number of local and civic dignitaries, as well employees of Derby City Council who have served the authority for forty years or more.
Thanks to the generous contributions of the Derby Museums Trust, the Local Studies Library and individuals who were involved at the time, we’ll be taking the opportunity to look back at some photographs and artefacts from Derby’s recent history.
We have so much to be proud of about our city, whether it’s our rich industrial heritage, our fantastic cultural organisations or the diversity of our communities. So let’s use this opportunity to sing Derby’s praises.
Today is about coming together to celebrate the many things we share as Derbeians. It’s about looking back fondly, while being ambitious for the future.
It’s certainly true that a lot of things have changed for our city since 1977. But many things remain the same too. Not least that Derby County still haven’t won the league after their last success in 1975. In fact, in 1977 it was Nottingham Forest who were in the ascendancy, so we can all be thankful that the status quo has been restored in recent years!
Footballs aside, modern cities like Derby are constantly engaged in a process of renewal and reinvention. This has been clear to see from our recent history.
For example, in 1977, the Assembly Rooms were re-opened after the original eighteenth-century building was destroyed by fire eleven years earlier. Since then, it has been a key part of the city’s cultural life.
Sadly, history repeated itself in 2014 and the building remains closed. But, with time, we will see an ambitious new venue on the site, befitting of its prominent position on the Market Place.
In the 1990s, thousands of high-skilled jobs were brought to Derby when Toyota opened their new plant at Burnaston. We also saw the launch of Pride Park, which has gone from strength to strength ever since.
After the millennium, we had the development of the former Eagle Centre and the resurgence of the Cathedral Quarter, reinventing the city centre. We’ve witnessed older buildings being refurbished, like the Council House and the Silk Mill Museum, and those that are no longer fit for purpose replaced, such as the Bus Station. And we’ve seen modern new facilities created, in the form of QUAD and the Derby Arena.
But what makes Derby really special is its people. After all, a city would be nothing without those who chose to reside here.
This weekend, I’d like people to raise a glass to Derby and its 250,000 inhabitants. We’ve come a long way since 1977 and there is a lot to be proud of.
Some people say life begins at forty. If that’s the case for our city, we’ve got some exciting years ahead.