lessening independence of the Village of Spondon was marked by the
Local Government Board Order of 1884 which formed the Shardlow Rural
District of 29 parishes, including Spondon. A coal tar and town gas
plant had been built near the canal and railway, bringing us the marvel
of street lighting, and a place for children's evening playtimes. A
public water supply, sanitary sewers, road maintenance, hospitals, and
other amenities began to be provided on a regional basis. A large
sewage disposal plant to serve Derby and district was built a mile
south of the village, out of sight but not always out of smelling range
Many major changes came to Spondon as a consequence of the first World War. To meet the demand of the war machine for aeroplane fabric dope, a large cellulose acetate factory for the conversion of wood pulp was built near the canal, and thousands of workers were needed. Some of them came from Ireland and were put in 'temporary' housing in Megaloughton Lane called 'The Huts' by locals, and still in use after forty years. After the war, aircraft production needs waned and the plant was changed to the manufacture of rayon for textiles. This needed a three-shift, 24 hour, 7 day week, continuous operation, as the spinning, weaving and garment manufacture began. A fresh influx of workers from the Lancashire and Yorkshire mills brought new dialects to the village and large estates were built to house them. The even tenor of village life was now paced by the periodic tread of changing shift workers every eight hours, three times a day. The penetrating acetic acid fumes, sometimes blowing northwards across the canal from the factory, became another reminder of the diminishing pastoral nature of the village.
The growing demand for industrial and domestic power caused a large electricity generating station to be constructed beside the Derwent near Borrowash. The pylons of steel marching across the fields to distant towns, and the wisps of steam rising continuously from the enormous cooling towers gave Spondonians another token of the creeping tentacles of industry.
The nearby town of Derby was little changed for its first thousand years. At the time of the Domesday Book, compiled in 1086 AD, it had about 400 inhabitants. In comparison Nottingham had only 120. At the end of the seventeenth century the Derby population had only reached four thousand. It has continued to grow steadily and inexorably in the past two centuries and has now become a sprawling city metropolis of over four hundred thousand, slowly engulfing and swallowing each of its smaller neighbours in turn. Eventually Spondon, the Shardlow Rural District village community, was no longer separated from the town by open fields. Parts of the village were taken into the Borough of Derby in 1910 and 1928, and in 1968 the remainder was inevitably incorporated into the newer and greater City of Derby. Neighbouring villages, east of Spondon and north of the Derwent, have entered the Erewash Rural District, though this may only be a temporary home. Sherwood Forest, once the vast green covering of the Trent Valley, has been replaced by industry, housing and shopping centres. As we approach the new millennium, the complete merging of Derby and Nottingham seems unavoidable.
Now, the friendly gurgling streams and brooks of childhood memory have disappeared into culverts. Pavements and houses have erased most of the scenic farmlands and the shady woods. Freeways and overpasses have sliced up the community and obliterated the uniqueness of Spondon. The endless motor traffic with buzzing engines, fumes, and faceless passengers, speed through the anonymous housing estates, unaware of the peaceful and beautiful little village that used to be there.
The Village and its quiet tree-lined streets exist now only in memory. The autumn leaves of the copper beeches and sycamores no longer swirl into melancholy heaps on the pavement and crinkle underfoot. The friendly purring of the street gas lamps, lit each evening by the tall pole of the lamplighter as dusk fell, has disappeared from the passing scene. The patient cows, trudging down the streets to pasture after milking time, have long gone home. Sounds of sheep and the yapping of sheep-dogs bringing the flocks back from Derby market are heard no more. However, in far-away countries and continents, fortunate souls like me will always remember and treasure as long as we are able, those slower and more gentle times, when cottages, farms, fields and meadows snuggled comfortably around the wooded hillside on which the towering spire of the old Church still stands as sentinel for us all. Long may tales of Spondon forebears be told, and long may the history of Spondon continue.