Derby's Unusual Suburb Names Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Derby's Unusual Suburb Names

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Walking around the city of Derby in the Midlands of England, it would not be unusual to see a bus bearing the sign 'Nottingham via Dunkirk'1. This may sound like quite a convoluted route to take between two cities a mere 20 miles apart, but it really makes perfect sense. Although most of Derby's suburbs have sensible names, like 'Little Chester' and 'Rose Hill', three are named after places in more distant climes.

The Suburbs

Dunkirk is named after the French port, and is first mentioned in writing on P P Burdett's2 1767 map. It is, however, believed that the name dates back to Charles I's sale of the port town of Dunkirk back to the French.

The suburb known as 'New Zealand' takes its name from a farm belonging to the Chandos-Pole family - the district stands on the former estate of the family. The family had named the farm to commemorate the Treaty of Waitangi (1840), which had established a British Government in New Zealand, with William Hobson, a Naval Captain, as Governor General. The name came to apply to the area when the family began building in the 19th Century.

The last area named after a overseas place is something of a mystery - California. Although it seems that it was named after the Californian gold rush of 1849, and the area took that name around the time of the gold rush, there appears to be no reason why. There's nothing linking the suburb with the state, nor was there a farm or a house in the area named after it; the name was apparently chosen totally at random.

Should you wish to visit these areas (although California and New Zealand are basically just residential areas), California is the area between Uttoxeter New Road and Burton Road. This area is served by a number of bus routes, the simplest to catch being the Mickleover Flyer, which departs from the bus station every ten minutes. New Zealand is virtually next door, the area between Uttoxeter New Road and Kingsway, and is served by the Mickleover Flyer again. This bus will also take you back to the town centre, from which you can walk to the smaller area of Dunkirk, in the Abbey Street/Rother River area, virtually in the town centre, and is coincidentally the heart of Derby's (tiny) gay district. While there, why not call in for a beer at the Crown Inn on Curzon Street?

1This is actually the Rainbow 5 route.2A famous surveyor of the country.

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