What could link Derby, a seemingly ordinary English city, with Lyon, France’s cosmopolitan third-largest city? Esker, of course! Derby is the location of Esker’s UK office and Lyon the location of Esker’s worldwide headquarters. But the two cities share another important link: each has a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Both cities have histories dating back to Roman times, but it is Lyon’s Roman district which forms part of the Historic Site of Lyon. Other areas of the Historic Site include Fourvière, the Renaissance district (Vieux Lyon), the silk district on the slopes of Croix-Rousse, and the Presqu’île. Vieux Lyon and Croix-Rousse are both known for their traboules, or narrow passageways, the first examples of which were thought to have been built in the 4th century. These allow the Lyonnais to get from their homes to the River Saône and the canuts, or silk workers, to get from their workshops to the textile merchants at the foot of the hill. The canuts were subject to extremely poor working conditions, and so staged many revolts which are considered among the very first worker uprisings. The second of which, in February 1834, lasted 6 days before being supressed by 12,000 soldiers.
Silk, too, is a link between Lyon and Derby. In 1716, John Lombe visited Piedmont in Italy and came back to Derby with the necessary knowledge (and some Italians) to build a mill on the west bank of the River Derwent. This mill, completed in 1721, is considered to be the first fully mechanised factory in the world, and cements Derby’s claim to be one of the birthplaces of the Industrial Revolution. The Silk Mill, as it is known today, was converted to a museum in the 1970s and forms part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site – a collection of paper, cotton and silk mills and their communities built by Lombe, Richard Arkwright and others that pioneered the use of water power on such a large scale and provided the blueprint for factory production. Interestingly, the first cotton mill on the European mainland – based upon Arkwright’s mill in Cromford – was built in Ratingen, Germany, the hometown of Esker EDI Services. It too is now a museum.
Esker are pioneers in the use of the cloud and AI technology to streamline business processes in today’s Digital Revolution. Though we continue to look forward, it’s fascinating to look back at where we’re from and the revolutions of the past.