The district – all 34,000 hectares – is in fine shape as it reaches the middle of the road. Like a fine wine, it continues to improve with age.
Swadlincote has transformed itself into a major visitor destination in the heart of The National Forest. Large scale initiatives – from the Pipeworks to the thriving High Street market – show the town is well and truly open for business.
Elsewhere, sitting within rolling countryside are scenic villages, historic houses and meandering rivers. Past meets present in picturesque locations such as Melbourne, Repton and Ticknall, while new identities are being forged in rapidly rising areas such as Hilton.
Tourism is booming, as evidenced by the ever growing number of visitors enticed by attractions like Sharpe’s Pottery Museum, Calke Abbey, Rosliston Forestry Centre and Willington’s Mercia Marina. Diverse. Dramatic. Delightful.
Behind every good place, there is a good story.
But make no mistake this was big. The beginning of the start. A time when an eclectic assortment of backgrounds, backdrops and backwaters became one.
In some ways, it is a tale of contrasts between then and now. Swadlincote and the surrounding areas, for example, have moved from pits and pots to construction and manufacturing to parks and woods. Elsewhere, identity is king, preserved for generations to come to enjoy. South Derbyshire is proud of its past and highly ambitious for its future. Reaching 40 years seems the perfect place to celebrate where it has come from in order to fulfil its grand aspirations.
It is easy to argue that each of the four decades has seen defining moments. After the Local Government shake up of the seventies came the mining movement of the eighties.
By 1982 there were four remaining collieries on the coalfield of which only one, Cadley Hill, was in South Derbyshire. However, it was a significant employer with 3,500 men at work. Its last day of production on March 25 1988 marked the end of deep coal mining within South Derbyshire.
Another milestone was reached as Toyota Manufacturing UK was established in December 1989, with the first car rolling off the production line at Burnaston three years later. Now producing all variants of the Auris and Avensis, it currently employs more than 3,200 people.
More good news followed. The district’s motto of ‘The Earth, our Wealth’ took on a whole new meaning as The National Forest was created, with more than 200 square miles transformed through the planting of millions of trees and the creation of many valuable wildlife habitats.
There are so many other stories to tell. Sporting successes, notable names, changing landscapes, magnificent milestones, infrastructure alterations – South Derbyshire has seen it all.
Working in partnership with the Magic Attic history archives, based in Swadlincote, the past and the present will be brought to life.
What makes South Derbyshire so special is its people. We want to hear your recollections and share your experiences of the evolution of the district.
As well as a trip down memory lane at www.south-derbys.gov.uk, you can tell the council your thoughts through social media channels such as the @sddc Twitter account.
Displays will be set up at annual events such as the Festival of Leisure, in Church Gresley, while Members and officers hope to bring the past to life with pupils during Local Democracy Week. We are looking forward to the next 40 years already.