The uninformed visitor might at first sight be forgiven for believing that this village, nestling on the banks of the River Derwent, has little to offer historically and that there is little of interest for the casual visitor. Well he would be wrong on both counts.
Draycott (Draicote and Dry Cote are amongst its earlier names) has developed slowly since its first appearance in records as far back as 1500 years ago into todays modern rural village. The Romans had built a straight road from Derby to what is now Trent Lock to transport their lead from the Derbyshire mines. Progressively a small community established itself along this road and is certainly mentioned in the Doomsday Book as Dry Cote (a ‘dry place’). Over the same period a smaller, but at that time possibly more important; village of Wilne (a ‘clearing in the willows’) is chronicled as located just to the south of Draycott.
For many reasons it is difficult if not impossible to separate the history and development of the two villages. Indeed it is highly probable that Church Wilne was the earlier settlement in the 7th or 8th century as St Chad used it as his base to spread Christianity though what was then the Kingdom of Mercia. Progressively though the ages the village of Church Wilne has disappeared and its inhabitants have migrated to Draycott some 1.5 miles away. Initially this was probably due to the flooding problems in the Derwent plain but it accelerated through the 18th and 19th centuries as the Industrial Revolution brought canals, railways and later electricity to Draycott. With them came the development of mills perhaps the most important single event in that period of the village history. These mills have now disappeared although a number of the buildings remain. Chief amongst these is the Victoria mill that at the time of its completion in 1907 was the largest lace manufacturing plant in Europe – some say in the world. The four-storey building with its green copper capped ornamental clock tower still dominates the skyline. The mill is now partially converted into apartments with more conversions currently being carried out.
So, from being a Mercian village whose importance relied much upon its river crossing and wonderful agricultural values Draycott has now evolved into a largely dormitory village but one where a number of relatively small niche businesses have made their bases. Home to some 3000 people it is well placed upon a regular bus route between Derby and Nottingham. Its local services include scrumptious cafes, outlets providing giftware, bridal ware, paintings, beauty services and much more. There are useful grocery stores, a butchers, fish and chip shop, Chinese takeway , delicatessen, car repair/service centres, a garage, and last but not least three quality taverns.
Various young peoples organisations flourish in the village including a junior football club, the Scouting organisation, Brownies and Rainbows, the Army Cadets and the Draycott and Long Eaton Table Tennis Club.
Our local community group, the Draycott Village Fund has revived the ‘community spirit’ in the village – initiating and arranging events such as the Scarecrow Festival and the Christmas Market and its ‘Draycott in Bloom’ section has co-ordinated the entry into the East Midlands in Bloom competition. In 2018 the village achieved a ‘Gold’ in both the East Midlands and Britain in Bloom – a wonderful result!!!
There are also a range of facilities varying from an enclosed safe play area located by the village primary school, extensive playing fields and Millennium Green and an enclosed floodlit multi purpose games area for all ages. There is also the village Cemetery on the edge of the village.
Draycott also boast the beautiful St Chad’s Water, a 12 acre Nature Reserve sitting peacefully beside St Chad’s Church (records of which go back to the 7th century).
So next time your path takes you through this village why not just tarry a while and take a look around. You might be surprised.
There is the ‘legend of Neddytown’ – but then again that’s a different story!
St Chad’s Water (photograph taken by a resident in October 2018)