roy smith

Narrow Boat Resident Finds His Land Legs at Derby’s Nightingale Quarter

A retired widower – and former sergeant major – is finding his land legs at Wavensmere Homes’ £175m Nightingale Quarter development in Derby city centre, having spent the past six years living on a narrow boat.

Born and raised in Tottenham, North London, Roy Smith moved home frequently during his 25-year career serving with the British Army’s 2nd Royal Green Jackets (The Rifles), having been discharged as Warrant Officer Class 2 (sergeant major). He then settled with his wife Ann in West Sussex, while undertaking a second career in local government finance for Horsham District Council. In 2018, following Ann’s passing, Mr Smith opted for a lifestyle change, selling their traditional detached home in Pullborough to live full-time on a 58ft long narrowboat.

Having enjoyed resident moorings at Droitwich Spa Marina and at Mercia Marina in South Derbyshire, Roy has now moved into a two-bedroom, first floor apartment. Situated at the newly completed Dalton House within Wavensmere Homes’ Nightingale Quarter development, the apartment has views of the extensive landscaped gardens, a restored statue of Queen Victoria, and the city centre beyond. The rare statue dates back to the late monarch’s official opening of the Florence Nightingale-designed Royal Derby Infirmary in 1894. The 18.5-acre hospital site was derelict for a decade before being acquired and redeveloped by the Birmingham-headquartered housebuilder.

Narrow boat cruising has kept me fit and active, but I’m aware I’m not getting any younger. With the property market picking up again, the time felt right to look for a low maintenance home to buy that I would really enjoy living in. I am also mindful of the future investment potential for my two sons, four grandchildren, and six great grandchildren.

While I am not from Derby, and hadn’t even spent quality time in the East Midlands until recent years, the city has captivated me. It is a really buzzy place that is easy to walk around, with so much going on. My favourite places are The Bookcafé in the Corn Market and the Cathedral Quarter. I planned to do my research and consider all the options, but once I’d visited Nightingale Quarter and realised how quickly the homes were selling, I made a reservation and didn’t look elsewhere.

This is the third new home I’ve purchased in my lifetime and the quality stands apart. Having a modern fully-fitted kitchen, en-suite bathroom, large fitted wardrobes in both bedrooms, and all the flooring included as standard, has made rediscovering my land legs a smooth transition. There are around 1,000 people already living at the development and moving into a new community was appealing. With Derby train station only a few minutes away, it will enable me to visit the Victory Services Club in London more frequently, as well as my family on the South Coast.

I still have my narrow boat and am looking forward to regular cruising during the warmer months, but moving here is creating new opportunities, while giving me a secure base to call home. I am keen to discover new jogging routes and take friends to the city centre attractions.

Roy Smith

Located off London Road, with a DE1 postcode, Nightingale Quarter is one of the UK’s most significant residential regeneration projects. As well as constructing 925 houses and apartments, Wavensmere Homes has restored landmark buildings from the 130-year-old former Derby Royal Infirmary. 95% of the well-specified homes are now sold, with prices for one- and two-bedroom apartments starting from £185,000.

Wavensmere Homes’ vast development has been sympathetically designed by Gould Singleton Architects to incorporate the restoration of the iconic Victorian ‘Pepper Pot’ buildings. Pepper Pot North features a large independently run luxury dining restaurant, while Pepper Pot South will be transformed into a residents’ gym and community meeting room. The housebuilder has recently announced a partnership with Down to Earth Derby to create a nature-based community garden within a large area of the open space.  

nightingale quarter

Virtual reality headsets, interactive touchscreens, and 360-degree walkthroughs fully illustrate the detail of Nightingale Quarter’s latter apartment building phases, where many more residents will move to over the next 18 months. 

Nightingale Quarter’s marketing suite and two show homes are open from 10am – 5pm Monday through to Saturday, accessed off 128 London Road, Derby DE1 2QQ. For further information, or to book an in-person, or virtual appointment, call 01332 321 255, or email

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