Little Eaton, meaning Little Town by the Water, is situated 3 and a half miles North East of Derby on the old Alfreton to Derby road.
In 1793 Benjamin Outram of Butterley invented the flanged rail and laid one of the earliest railways from Denby to Little Eaton on which 4 horses hauled 8 trucks laden with coal. Until it's closure in 1908, villagers watched these coal trains which were unloaded onto barges at the Derby Canal Wharf in the village. The old canal clocktower is still standing, the only reminder of this past transport system.
Peckwash paper mill was recorded in 1851 as one of the largest in the world and brought much prosperity to the area.
In the early 20th century, Little Eaton was a popular resort for many working people with a train trip or a twopenny canal ride to local woods quarries and tearooms being a popular Sunday and Bank Holiday outing. A well known and popular character was Alice Grace, the 'Little Eaton Hermit' who on being evicted from her cottage lived in sheds, barns and disused buildings, until finally residing in her famous box homes at the pinfold on 'Th Back o' the Winns' in Coxbench Wood. She spent 20 years as a hermit until forcibly taken to the Union workhouse at Shardlow. She died in 1927. Click here for picture of Alice Grace.
The village has a small parish church dedicated to St Paul. It was built in 1791, enlarged in 1837 and then heavily modernized in 1851.
The village contains shops, a school, and a fine 18th century inn called the Queen's Head. It retains a good community spirit despite some housing development. It also has it's own Lawn Tennis Club at St Peters Park.
Little Eaton is surrounded by moors and woodland which offer attractive views over the Derwent Vale, inspiring at least one local artist, James Preston to recapture it in oils and water colour. Another local hero was T.P.C Wilson a somewhat forgotten war poet and writer who died in the trenches in 1918.
Nearby is Drum Hill, used by the Derby scouts and guides.
Coxbench is a tiny settlement situated off the Alfreton Road, just past Little Easton when travelling from Derby.. It once has it's own railway station, the buildings of which are still standing and a private residence.
The are 2 pubs, a caravan site and Coxbench Hall, an 18th Century building once the home of William Brooks Johnson MD but now a residential home for the elderly.
The writer and journalist Rosemary Meynell was born in the village.