Florence Nightingale Comes Home for 2020

Nightingale Sites in Derby City Centre

Nightingale Statue

This stone statue, which stands outside the former site of the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary on London Road, was erected in 1914. It shows Nightingale holding a lamp - the 'wrong' one, in the sense that in the hospital at Scutari she used a paper lantern - with the inscription ‘Fiat Lux’ (‘let there be light’) behind her. Below Nightingale is a representation of the owl, Athena, that she rescued while on a trip to Athens in 1849. 

The sculptor was Lady Feodora Gleichen, who was related to Queen Victoria and was the first woman member of the Royal Society of British Sculptors. Gleichen's father, Prince Victor, had been a naval officer during the Crimean War. 

The statue became a grade-II listed building in 1977. 

In 2016 a petition was launched to move the statue to the London Road site of the Royal Derby Hospital - soon to be renamed Nightingale Hospital - but for now it remains in its original place. The Derby Telegraph recently ran a story and video on the figure: 'Nightingale Statue Gets a Clean, And No Longer Looks Green'.

Image: Florence Nightingale Statue, London Road, Derby. Photograph by Russ Hamer (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Nightingale statue Derby. Set back from a road with trees/vegetation in the background. Nightingale shown standing, holding a lamp at head height, in front of the words 'Fiat Lux'.

Derbyshire Royal Infirmary Site/ 'Nightingale Quarter'

The Derbyshire Royal Infirmary (DRI - known until 1890 as the Derbyshire General Infirmary) was first built in 1810. Its construction was overseen by the Derbyshire cotton manufacturer William Strutt, whose priority was to ensure the building was fireproof (as this article by Paul Elliott explains). This connection highlights the overlap between utilitarian industry and the practice of medical care in 19th century Derbyshire, a connection further illustrated by Nightingale’s own story.
The mortality rate in the hospital was initially relatively low, but rose to 5-6% after 1830. In the 1860s, Dr William Ogle, the hospital’s superintendent, corresponded at length with Nightingale as to how it should be redesigned. This resulted in a complete rebuild of the hospital, designed by Henry Isaac Stevens. The new building opened in 1869 with a new wing named after Nightingale. 

However, in 1890 there was an outbreak of typhoid at the hospital. A subsequent inspection caused the old building to be condemned and rebuilt. Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone for the new building on a visit to Derby in 1891. 

The DRI Site Today

The DRI closed as a hospital in 2009. Plans were released in 2013 to redevelop the old DRI site for housing, with the area to become known as the ‘Nightingale Quarter’. An outline planning application for the £40 million-plus scheme was approved by Derby city councillors in 2017, after the plans were changed to ensure that both “pepper pot” buildings from the original DRI would be retained. This followed a petition, signed by thousands of residents, to preserve the "pepper pots" from destruction, as reported by the Derby Telegraph.   

Black and white image of Derbyshire General Infirmary as it looked in 1819, Georgian-style symmetrical building with white exterior, three floors of windows.

'View of the Derbyshire General Infirmary', printed in Charles Sylvester, The Philosophy of Domestic Economy (Nottingham: Barnett, 1819), Wellcome Collection.

Colour photograph of one of the 'pepper pot' buildings at Derbyshire Royal Infirmary, surrounded by wasteland where the rest of the hospital used to be.

DRI 'Pepper Pots', photo by Kelly, Wikimedia commons



Nightingale Nursing Home, Trinity Street

Close to the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary site, and boarded up since 2009, is 'The Nightingale Home'. From 1904 until the 1970s, this was a maternity hospital. Initially, it was set up as a private nursing and midwifery hospital run by the Royal Derby and Derbyshire Nursing and Sanitary Association. From 1948 it operated as an NHS maternity institute - the ‘Nightingale Home for Maternity Cases’. In the 1980s it became a hospice for the Nightingale Macmillan Unit, which has since moved to the new Royal Derby Hospital. The front of the building is listed.



Right: Nightingale Home, London Road, Derby. Photograph by Jonathan Memel, 2018 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Colour photograph of the exterior of the Nightingale Home, Derby, featuring the sign and a statuette of Nightingale above a doorway.

Nightingale Window, St Peter's Church 

When the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary closed in 2009, a stained-glass window, previously located in the DRI chapel and commissioned in the 1950s, was moved to St Peter’s Church, in Derby City Centre. The window commemorates Nightingale’s life and connection to the hospital.
A window is an appropriate tribute to Nightingale, who stressed the importance of ventilation in sanitary hospital design and for nursing patients in private homes, notably in her bestselling Notes on Nursing (1859).


 Right: Nightingale Window, St Peter's Church, St Peter's Street, Derby. Photograph by Jonathan Memel, 2018 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Stained glass window in St Peter's church featuring images of nurses and religious figures

Boots Building Statue

Opposite St Peter’s Church is the former Boots the Chemist building, built in 1912. The building features a statue of Nightingale alongside other historic figures associated with the city’s industrial heritage - John Lombe, who created Britain’s first successful silk throwing mill, and industrial pioneer Jedediah Strutt. See the page on industrial connections for more on the link between the Nightingales and the Strutts. 

Right: Boots Building, St Peter's Street, Derby. Photograph by Jonathan Memel, 2018 (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Angled colour photograph of the statue of Nightingale on the side of the Boots building in Derby.

Cathedral plaque

Derby Cathedral did not have a conducive site to house the Nightingale Window, but it was nonetheless felt that it was appropriate for the Cathedral to house a commemoration to Nightingale, whose religious calling was an important aspect of her vocation. Accordingly, in 2014 a commemorative plaque was erected in the Cathedral.

The text reads:


Florence Nightingale 

Born to a Derbyshire Family

Heroine of the Crimean War

First woman member of the Order of Merit

Founder of the Nursing Profession

Pioneer of Public Health Care

Reformer of Army Medical Services

Guided by her faith in God'

Plaque to Nightingale in Derby cathedral, featuring her dates and referring to her as the Founder of the Nursing Profession, pioneer of public health care, Reformer of Army medical services, guided by her faith in God.

Nightingale Plaque, Derby Cathedral. Photograph by Richard Bates, 2018 (CC BY-SA 3.0)


'Walk of Fame' - Nightingale Plaque

A plaque to Nightingale was added to the 'Made in Derby Walk of Fame' in the Cathedral Quarter of Derby city centre in September 2019. The Derby Telegraph reported on this at the time.

The Nightingale plaque was unveiled by Professor Paul Crawford from our project, alongside Karen Hill, a senior nurse from the University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Trust.



Photograph by Paul Crawford, 2019 (CC BY-SA 3.0)


Walk of Fame Nightingale plaque


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Florence Nightingale Comes Home for 2020
Email: nightingale2020@nottingham.ac.uk