What it’s like living and working in Allenton, with its great community spirit

“I see Allenton as a throwback to what I remember from growing up, close-knit communities that are kind to each other.”

“There isn’t in Derby a more vibrant and productive place than Allenton.”

These are some of the comments from Allenton residents who have praised the suburb’s qualities, saying it provides the ‘beating heart’ of Derby.

Derbyshire Live reporter Nigel Slater went out and spoke to the people of Allenton to find out what makes the area tick.

Not that there is a competition for it but Allenton, historically, has always been one of Derby’s busiest suburbs.

Despite confusing thousands of drivers for decades, its iconic Spider island bridge has become a meeting place for many in Derby as well as a landmark with its surrounding shops and now a new Starbucks café, making it one of the city’s most core areas.

The café replaced the former Mitre pub, the demolition of which last year created huge interest among Derbyshire Live readers.

Being born and bred in Derby, I for one, have always known Allenton to be a thriving part of the city where everyone appears to know each other. That insight has been further established, in my view, working as a journalist in Derby covering all types of stories.

As a youngster I remember Saturday trips (usually when Derby County played away from home) to the busy Allenton Market where it was jam-packed with people and visiting the Kwik Save supermarket – sadly no longer there to buy footballs and so on.

Decades later, I made my way through Spider island and spoke to the shop owners and residents to ask them about life in Allenton nowadays.

And there was very much a sense that the busy and tight-knit community I felt as a youngster was still very much alive today.

Elaine and Rob Hargreaves have been running a tools and hardware stall at Allenton Market for three years, despite living in Leicestershire.

Mr Hargreaves said: “We’ve been trading here for three years but we are from Leicestershire and travel up.

“We came up here because we were told it was a busy market and that has never changed.

Elaine and Rob Hargreaves have been running a tools and hardware stall at Allenton Market for three years
(Image: Derbyshire Live)

“The ownership (of the market) has changed but there’s always lots of people to speak to – we’re happy here and love what we do.”

A short walk across the Spider Island bridge, which boast stunning views of the suburb, you can see a fine variety of shops – some have been there for decades.

Lisa Outhwaite has run Spondon Florists in Allenton for more than 30 years and says it is unthinkable for her to move anywhere else.

She said: I’m surprised when I hear there is a negative perception of Allenton. To me there’s always a great atmosphere around the shops.

“I’ve been here 30 odd years and to be honest I would never move away. There’s such a great community spirit here.”

Lisa Outhwaite has run Spondon Florists in Allenton for more than 30 years
(Image: Derbyshire Live)

Salon owner Monique Murphy said she put any negative aspects of the area she was told about to one side and has never looked back since.

She said: “I love working in Allenton because apart from being in town, it’s quite centrally located for everyone. My salon is off both of the main roads, Osmaston Park and Osmaston Road.

“When I originally told people that I was opening the salon in Allenton some of the feedback I got was that the area is not a nice area and apparently the area is rough but to be honest in my time of being here I’ve not noticed anything. Everyone I’ve seen and spoken to have been really nice to me – I don’t see the roughness.”

Monique Murphy outside her new salon in Nightingale Road, Allenton
Salon owner Monique Murphy says she is loving working and meeting people in Allenton
(Image: @akmi.a)

The view of Allenton not being a “nice area” possibly stems from recent crime incidents which you could say have let down the suburb’s reputation – but the truth is crime happens everywhere.

Councillor Alan Graves who lives in Allenton said the area’s “hustle and bustle” is what makes it a great place to live and work.

He said: “For me Allenton is a great place to live.

“It has one of the largest traditional council housing areas in Derby where, historically, many working class families originate.

“My own family has roots in Campbell Street and Coleman Street, linked to Moorways and Osmaston park.

“Allenton has never been a posh area of Derby, but the people are proud and have a strong community spirit. It houses the only market outside the city centre and local people fought hard to keep it when the council threatened to close it.

“We are full of down-to-earth people and some great businesses. There is a lot of hustle and bustle, and that is rare outside of the city centre.

“Everything you could possibly need is within walking distance, which means less pollution, and more socialising.”

Fellow Derby city councillor Tim Prosser revealed fascinating insights into the history of the area and said.

He said: “Allenton has a lot going for it. It has a small population and a large compliment of manufacturing and industry.

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“Allenton includes the Ascot Drive trading estate which is a driving force in the city for everything from windows to furniture manufacture and waste removal.

“It also links to the historic train building facility and the world-beating Rolls-Royce. In 1906 Allenton was the manufacturing base for the best car in the world. In WW2 it helped provide the Merlin engine for Spitfires and Hurricanes and it continues with the world-class aero engine facility still sited in Allenton.

“Moving to the future it will be the home to the new swimming facility and also hosts Moorways stadium. There isn’t in Derby a more vibrant and productive place than Allenton.”

Have your say. What do you think of Allenton? Email your thoughts on Allenton to newsdesk@derbytelegraph.co.uk

Courtesy of Derbyshire Live – Derby News