Local resident and Derbyshire Life subscriber Adrian Stevenson waxes lyrical over
Ockbrook, its long history, attractions and famous community spirit 


Travelling east out of Derby, passers-by can be forgiven for not knowing that, five miles into their journey, they are passing a historic village, obscured from view as the A52 dips in the natural landscape. 

However, turn off the A52 and immediately traffic is replaced by homes lined up behind grass verges, trees and a war memorial. 

A little further on, the boundary sign ‘Ockbrook’ heralds your arrival in the village my family and I are proud to have called home for the past 12 years. 

Ockbrook is founded on a long history; with records indicating that in the 6th century an Anglo-Saxon traveller called Occa established a small settlement on the banks of the small brook; the birth of Ockbrook. 

Beyond the boundary sign stretches tree and grass verge-lined Victoria Avenue, with decorated barrels containing seasonal flowers and conifers. An eagle above red and white flowers arranged in a flower bed pays tribute to the RAF. 

Great British Life: Ockbrook in BloomOckbrook in Bloom (Image: Adrian Stevenson and Frank Harrison)

These are just some of many floral displays created to brighten our village by Ockbrook in Bloom (OIB), a group of passionate volunteers. 

OIB was formed in 2018 by Janet Fazackley; her enthusiasm and commitment attracted many volunteers, including Frank Harrison, known by many as Ev, who joined as project manager in 2019. The collective effort of volunteers was recognised in the early stages by the Royal Horticultural Society, who presented OIB a Silver Award in 2020. 

In 2022, Ev drew the support of the Parish Council and many residents, young and old, to create displays focusing on protecting our planet, a legacy that will hopefully see more involved in coming years to create a village full of sustainable floral displays and an awareness of what is necessary to care for our planet. 

The RHS again were impressed and in September 2022 presented their ‘Silver Gilt Award’ to OIB. Efforts of younger members were also recognised by the RHS, who presented their ‘Young Persons Awards’ to two teenage volunteers, Whitney Rigley and my own daughter, Elektra. 

Within the conservation area is Ockbrook and Borrowash Cricket Club. Formed in 1850, the club has teams competing in the Derbyshire County Cricket League and a thriving women’s team. The club prides itself on looking to the future, with active coaching of youngsters aged seven to 19. 

One of four village pubs is found next to the cricket ground. Originally The Horse and Jockey, it was renamed The Queens Head in 1897 to mark Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. 
Today, The Queens Head, run by general manager Ashley Roper and deputies Chloe Scott and Julie Barker, is at the heart of this great community, offering drinks and food served all day every day. 

Victoria Avenue becomes Flood Street. Tucked back is the multi-award-winning Apple Tree Gift Shop and Teahouse, with the new addition of a courtyard and cosy rustic barn with a log burner. 

This hidden gem, run by Lucy Cassar, boasts a high-end gift shop and in-house cake bakery. Ask for their signature hot chocolate, it comes with a huge homemade marshmallow! Flood Street is also home to the Ridings Pre-School, a registered charity providing care and early learning for children from two years to school age. 
Starting life in 1967 by a few mothers operating out of a home, they soon moved into their current premises that once housed the village school. 

Education beyond pre-school is provided by Redhill Primary School, founded in 1951. Located on The Ridings, it is a vibrant and caring school where pupils consistently achieve high academic standards. 

Bakehouse Lane rises to a mound on which the Moravians settled by the 1750s. This area is known as the Moravian Settlement, in which attractive red brick buildings with white sash windows dominate. 

Great British Life: Moravian Church in OckbrookMoravian Church in Ockbrook (Image: Adrian Stevenson and Frank Harrison)

Until its closure in 2021, this was home to Ockbrook School, a reputable independent school which was part of the fabric of the community for 222 years, and where in their early years, my son and daughter were educated. 

At the heart of the settlement is the Moravian Church, where bishop Joachim Kreusel and the congregation ‘tries to bring together past, present and future.’ 

At only 90 meters above sea-level, a small field slopes within the settlement, offering a vantage point I like to call ‘Ockbrook’s Surprise View’ after its Peak District namesake. 

Ockbrook is flanked on both east and west sides by hills that, if ascended via one of the many footpaths, afford good views over the village. 
These hills, however, limit views over any notable distance from within the village, hence my name for this vantage point as it emerges ‘by surprise’. 

On a clear day, you can see the borders of neighbouring Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire. In the winter months, the distant lights of East Midlands Airport and Radcliffe Power Station twinkle like a huge set of Christmas Lights. 

The Moravian Lecture Hall is used by many groups and societies, including New Ockbrook Drama Society and Theatre, established in 1978. 
Sharon Rutland is always looking for new members both on and off stage; anyone interested is welcome at Tuesday evening rehearsals at 7.30pm. 

The small field, managed by the Moravian Settlement, which has been turned over to a wild flower meadow, is now lined by wooden planters. Five other areas were also turned over to wildflowers in the interest of sustainability. 

The Moravian Settlement was also the location of the star of Ockbrook in Bloom’s 2022 efforts, the dressing and blessing of the Children’s Well. 
Volunteers collected natural materials for two years, then patiently worked in shifts to create the magnificent artwork of the world, as seen from Apollo 13 space craft, and incorporating the Moravian star. 

Bordering the Moravian Settlement on Green Lane is the Cross Keys, a sports pub managed by Joanne and Michael Lewis and family, which serves home cooked traditional pub food, stone baked pizzas, and snacks. 
The pub features a frame knitters window in which stockings were made for Queen Victoria and her court. 

Opposite is F. F & P Walker Ltd. The Walker family’s fleet of lorries have been transporting produce throughout the UK and internationally for almost 65 years. Locally, they provide car servicing, repairs and MOTs to keep the village moving. 
Green Lane is undulating, rising as it passes the Settlement, and falling to meet Moor Lane which forms the second of three access roads to Ockbrook, the third being Cole Lane. 

There are numerous footpaths around Ockbrook, taking walkers to Spondon, Borrowash, Risley, Dale Abbey and beyond. Ockbrook is also known for its many ‘gitties’ (paths across open fields), now enclosed alleyways within the village. 

Dating from the 1700s, The Royal Oak on Green Lane once brewed beer from their own well and its large function room was used as an assembly point for German prisoners working on nearby farms during World War Two. 

Today, it is the quintessential village pub. Licensees Jean Hornbuckle and Sally Parrott, assisted by Stephen Hornbuckle, offer a fine selection of real ales and tempting, fresh and delicious home-cooked meals. 

The pub was recently honoured with a 50th anniversary golden award by CAMRA for being at the heart of the community run by the same family for 70 years; a pub with real history and tradition. 

Great British Life: Ockbrook, view down Pares Bridleway towards The RidingsOckbrook, view down Pares Bridleway towards The Ridings (Image: Adrian Stevenson and Frank Harrison)

A small group of people created the Sensory Garden in 2020, making use of an uncultivated plot within the pub garden. The result is a garden rich in flowers and shrubs for all to enjoy. 

In 2022, the RHS judges were so impressed they presented their ‘Special Judges Award’. Recognition also came from Erewash Borough Council’s ‘In Bloom’ competition with their first ever Special Judges award, received by Ev on behalf of the community. 
The fourth pub, White Swan, on Church Street, is a family-friendly pub with a fantastic beer garden, which serves traditional Spanish tapas food. 

Managed by Joanne and Michael Lewis and family, in 2022 they oversaw a significant refurbishment to enhance facilities and increase outdoor seating capacity. 
All Saints’ Ockbrook has a 1000-year history, with the font and tower Norman in origin. Inside the belfry are six bells rang for services, weddings and practice by a small band of campanologists, myself included. 

Originally a chapelry to Elvaston, All Saints became a parish church in the mid-1500s. Within All Saints are memorials and references to the Pares family, patrons of both All Saints and St Stephens Church in Borrowash. To allow the Pares family to attend services, a bridleway was built between what was then their residence of Hopwell Hall to connect with the Ridings in Ockbrook. 

Today, the bridleway is a public right of way. The Pares family is recognised by the naming of a road – Pares Way – and a member of the family remains a patron. 

All Saints has recently reopened following a £400,000 renovation, making it a more flexible worship space and one now used by community groups. 

The Rev’d Tim Sumpter has been vicar for 21 years, part of a team including a full-time curate and children’s and youth coordinator, alongside an ‘army’ of volunteers without whom the church would simply not function. 

Services range from the traditional to the contemporary. Each Wednesday the church is open as a warm space for the whole community. 
Details can be found at oandbparish.com. 

A question often asked of Ockbrook is why a war memorial is on a slip lane. It wasn’t always that way. 

The war memorial was erected on the border of Ockbrook and Borrowash opposite a now demolished vicarage to commemorate those who served and fell in World War One. 

The construction of the A52 dual-carriageway in the mid-1950s brought change, with Victoria Avenue to Borrowash severed and re-routed over a new bridge. 
The stub remains became what are today two slip lanes. Remembrance services attract several hundred residents from both villages each November, requiring the temporary closure of the slip lane. 

What makes me proud to call Ockbrook home? It’s the very real sense of community. 
My wife, children and I are still relatively ‘new’ to the village, where residents mostly settle for life. 

We have been welcomed and feel very much part of the village and support its way of life by partaking in regular bell ringing for practice and services; ‘Ockbrook in Bloom’ projects and Parish Council-organised activities, my wife Ana-Maria being a local councillor. 

Ockbrook is a wonderful place to live and visit, but don’t take my word for it.
 I encourage readers to explore our community and savour the drinks and food on offer. We look forward to welcoming you.