Intoxicating Aroma of Hops and Wood Smoke
The recently re-opened Old Silk Mill is a handsome building, and Derby CAMRA’s 2011 city pub of the year. It’s just a stone’s throw away from the Lombe Silk Mill on the banks of the Derwent, now an industrial heritage museum.
With Derby Cathedral Bells chiming and log fires crackling, the Old Silk Mill is just the place to be on a cold night in January. There’s something about real fires that get people chatting like old friends. It is cosy and comfortable with plush round the wall seating and parquet flooring. High ceilings, elegant leaded windows and many original features including dados, panelling and ornate tiling provide a pleasant atmosphere.
It has a triangular bar serving two rooms. Both have log fires. A small, cosy lounge, and a larger room that has a view of the impressive array of hand pumps: 8 cask beers, two ciders and two gravity beers fed.
Another room, known as the John Lombe room (see below for historic reference) has its own bar and a number of gravity fed casks.
The pub does not sell food, apart from bar snacks and huntsman pies, but a notice says that they are happy to provide plates and cutlery to people who bring in their own.
The staff are friendly, and offered a taster without being asked – a good sign! We enjoyed several pints of Ossett Winter IPA, 5%, and really enjoyed its hefty hoppy nose which married itself beautifully with the glorious aroma of burning logs!
John Lombe’s act of Industrial Espionage
John and Thomas Lombe built England’s first successful silk mill on the banks of the Derwent in 1719. Just how John Lombe came to acquire plans for this silk mill could be described as an act of industrial espionage. The story goes, that John travelled to Italy where he sought employment in a mill in Piedmont. Secretly drawing up plans of the machinery after gaining the trust of his employer, he smuggled the designs back to his brother in Derby. And so the Lombe mill was born putting Derby on the silk spinning map and making a fortune for the brothers. John did not live to enjoy his fortune however as (so legend has it) he came to a sticky end at the young age of 29 at the hands of a Italian female assassin in revenge for his betrayal.