Some old Belper channel and road names

From the Mary Smedley Papers donated to the society shortly before her death in 2020.


 Channels is the   traditional Belper name for passageways (or jitties – as they’re known in Derby).

 Jackson’s Channel can  be found between numbers 21 and 23 Nottingham Road, facing Wilmot Road.

 Kiln Lane was the name of Parkside before they built on the Park side of the road. Earlier, it was Mill Dam Road. The channel following the brook from Parkside to the Damside (also known as Walker Bottoms) recreation ground is called the Dunge.

 Walker Bottom is the path running along the side of the recreation ground, going to Bath House Farm (built in 1848 as a bath house with pleasure grounds) and continues on to The Marjorie, Bullsmoor, then Pottery Farm and on to Sandbed Lane.

Belper Channels - The Dunge off Parkside.
The Dunge off Parkside

Stoney Steps are beside Number 83 Nottingham Road and lead to the Damside Rec.

Jacob’s Ladder is between numbers 55 and 57 Nottingham Road and also leads to Damside.

Rothwell Lane leads from Nottingham Road to the recreation ground. It was once Smith Road.

The Marjorie (also known as Darters Lane) was between 165 and 167 Nottingham Road and leads to the Bath House.

Mo’s Channel is west of Bradley Drive, between Nottingham Road and Spencer Road, then connects with Spencer Avenue and across Wheeldon Avenue to Harrison’s nail shops on Marsh Lane. These channels all either lead the way to the old flour mill at the bottom of Parkside or lead up to the top common, depending on which way you were travelling.

Belper Channels - Bullsmoor and Damside recreation ground from Jacob's Ladder channel.
Bullsmoor and Damside Rec from Jacob's Ladder

Pinchoms Hill at the top of Mill Lane leading to Sandbed Lane was a coaching route until the 1700s.

Kirks Lane from the top of Mill Lane led to Sandbed Recreation Ground with branches off to Bullsmoor.

Lanes going to Sandbed Lane were used by the colliers walking to Denby pit; also to the far end of Over Lane and Bobbyogs from the bottom of Openwood Road to Denby.

The channel from The Butts to Manor Farm is a very old route and dates from at least 1250 – much of it is paved.

The bridge over the Coppice Brook and path going diagonally up the Parks to Mill Lane was once the only right of way through the Park. There is a channel which skirts Manor Farm and goes into the Parks.

Queen Street has a channel connecting New Breck Road, via a bridge over the Coppice Brook, to Byard’s (later Morley’s) Field and continues at the top of the field to Melbourne Close.

If memory serves me right, five old roads met at Wildersley Farm off Bargate Road.

Belper Channels - Manor Farm and the Coppice brook bridge
The Coppice Brook bridge with Manor Farm behind

Paddlewell Yard, connecting St John’s Road with High Street, is part of the old (lower) road before Penn Street was straightened out. Moore’s Channel from Penn Street to Chesterfield Road connects to Ingle’s Channel from Chesterfield Road onto Green Lane. As the lower part of Chesterfield Road (Church Lane to Penn Street) did not exist until after the enclosures (post 1805), this would have provided a route to the Hutfall, or town field.

The top part of Mill Street was only a channel until about 1930.

The two channels from the top part of Chesterfield Road to Swinney Lane were probably created to allow easy access to Swinney Wood, where commoners had rights of pannage for swine to feed (mainly on the acorns) for some months each year, during the time of the Duffield Frith or Forest. One of these channels continues from Chesterfield Road to Windmill Lane and led to Harrison’s nail shops on Marsh Lane, and possibly the windmill – although this was not built until c.1795.

Belper Channels - Moore's Channel off Penn Street
Moore's Channel starts by the house on the left, Penn Street

The channel leading from Windy Gap continues all the way to Bessalone Wood.

It has been said the paved way from Swiss House, on the lower Chevin, to the river meadows, was there because people left the stagecoach on the Chevin and then had to walk down to the river bridge because coaches did not come into Belper.

The channel leading from Canada Street down to Hillside Rise (formerly Cow Hill) may be an old connection to Cat Wood on Bargate Road or may connect the other way to Crow Well and down to Becksitch Lane, which was the Derby Road.

The road from Wyver Lane to Derwent View, known as Back Wyver Lane, was probably the route of Wyver Lane before the Bridgefoot end was added.

The path from the top of Shire Oaks, across to the Dalley, may be part of the route for coal coming from the Dalley pits or may be earlier.

Belper Channels - Back Wyver Lane view to mills.
Looking over Back Wyver Lane towards the mills c1914