Derby Arboretum Public Park image

Derby Arboretum Public Park

Derby Arboretum opened in 1840 and is recognised as the first in the world to be first to be deliberately planned as a place of public recreation in an urban setting.

Derby Arboretum a blueprint for New York’s Central Park

The Arboretum, which was commissioned by local mill owner and philanthropist Joseph Strutt in 1840, is recognised as Britain’s first park. To encourage people to walk all around the 11-acre site, he decided that no two species of tree or shrub would be the same.


Derby Arboretum first opened its doors to the public on Thursday 17th September 1840. The whole town of 1,500 people took the afternoon off and headed to the park to celebrate. The green space soon became a home for tree specimens from around the world. Frederick Law Olmsted is said to have taken inspiration from Derby Arboretum for his design for Central Park in New York.



Derby Arboretum inspired public parks around the world

Derby Arboretum was designed by the botanist and landscape gardener John Claudius Loudon and is recognised as one of the most significant public parks in the country. This is because of the way it was founded as an open space that could be used for free by working people. Joseph Strutt wanted to give people a place where they could exercise and relax, while broadening their minds. It was the first place that they could go on a Sunday afternoon to get away from the mills and their homes. Strutt wanted to give something back to the workers who had helped to make his family wealthy. He donated the arboretum at a time when other parks were only open to paid subscribers.


The park is a Grade II landscape in the English Heritage Register of Parks and Gardens

Derby Arboretum contains some of the finest examples of unusual trees including one specimen of Caucasian Lime, which is the tallest tree of its type in Britain. Work started in July 1839 and the deeds were handed over to Derby Town Council on Wednesday 16th September 1840.

“It’s really nice to see that some of the old trees are still there along with newly planted trees that will still be standing for people to enjoy in 100 years’ time. The park has real historical value and some of the tree specimens there are the best of their kind in Britain.”

Tony Kirkham, head of the arboretum at Kew Gardens in London

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