About this image
This engraving shows the facade of the Old Assembly Rooms. Built 1752-5 by the London Architect, Matthew Habershon (though Pevsner suggests Washington Shirley, 5th Earl Ferrers, who was a leading member of the committee, to be responsible for it.)
Assembly rooms were built all over the country and served the genteel middle-classes as social meeting rooms to see and be seen within society. They held music recitals and dances and dress codes and manners were strictly controlled. The interior was constructed 1773-4. Robert and James Adam were asked in 1770 to submit designs for the interior. There is no evidence that they did so, but the ceiling was probably the work of Abraham Denston, a plaster worker who had worked for Adam at Kedleston Hall.
The building was gutted by fire in 1963. The five bay stone facade to the building was re-erected at Crich Tramway Museum, and the beautiful interior was lost forever. It was replaced in 1977 by the New Assembly Rooms in the Civic Centre complex.
This image is one of a collection by the famous local antiquarian, Thomas Bateman, of Middleton by Youlgreave. (1821-1861). Bateman organized his collection by inserting them into a 4 volume copy of Lysons Magna Britannia, Derbyshire, creating a fascinating and unique illustrated record of the county. The purchase of the collection for Derbyshire Libraries was made possible by the generous bequest of Miss Frances Webb of Whaley Bridge, well known local historian, who died in December 2006.