MR Crest

The Midland Railway Study Centre
is a collaboration formed by


Housed within Derby’s Silk Mill, itself a World Heritage Site, the Midland Railway Study Centre is the largest publicly accessible collection of primary research material and ephemera relating to the Midland Railway, its constituent companies, and its legacy on today’s society.

The aim of this site is to help you find details about the Study Centre's collections and how to access them. With an expanding range of on-line resources, it also provides a pathway for finding information relating to the Midland Railway, its activities and its people.

Please have a look around the site and if you think we can help, do get in touch. We hope to see you at the Study Centre soon.

Operating the Midland Railway

A new Reference Paper (Item No. 30140), written by Garth Ponsonby, has been added to the Study Centre's collection and a copy can be downloaded as a 2.9Mb PDF.

Having its origin in his Presidential Address delivered to the Midland Railway Society’s AGM in 2010, this 34 page illustrated text details how the Midland Railway planned and organised its train service. The text covers how instructions were issued and controlled, and how those aspects changed over the life of the company. It contains an in-depth exploration of how working timetables were arranged and, indeed, created before moving on to discussing Appendices to the working timetable and the scope and administration of the various Notices to staff. The paper concludes with a brief look at the purpose and implementation of the Control Offices.

The Countdown has begun...

In 2018 major building works, taking approximately 18 months, will begin at Derby's Silk Mill. This will be a complete refurbishment of the fabric of the World Heritage Site, repairing many years of enforced neglect, removing asbestos, installing new floors & environmental controls and generally making the building fit to house a 21st century museum. Before this work begins the building has to be emptied. Completely. Everything from the model railway, the huge Buckton crane, the RB211 jet engine and the entirety of Derby Museum's extensive collections. And us. All will be temporarily rehoused.

While we are in our temporary home we will have access to all our documents and so will be able to offer a service of some form. The exact details of this are still being worked out. However, during the period of “the Decant” from the Silk Mill, everything will be in packing cases and completely inaccessible.

The implication of this is such that from late summer 2017, likely for the remainder of the year, the Midland Railway Study Centre will be completely closed — both to visitors and, for all practical purposes, to on-line enquiries. In the latter case we will continue to do what we can, utilising resources which are already digitised, but this will be only a small amount of what is normally available to us.

If you are considering any Midland Railway related research in the coming months or into 2018, now is the time to do it!

To facilitate this we are making study appointments available every Wednesday and Saturday (afternoons only on Saturdays) up to the point we have to close. The exact closure date is still uncertain, but is likely to be around September. As usual we have to insist on prior appointments for visiting to ensure we have volunteers available to help you — please don't just turn up. Contact details are at the bottom of each page on this site.

The logistics of the Decant will undoubtedly be very labour intensive. If you fancy helping out, either in the short term for us in the Midland Railway Study Centre or, even better, throughout the process of emptying the whole of the building, please get in touch. You will be made very, very welcome!

The frontage of The Silk Mill at Derby, viewed from Cathedral Green

Derby's Silk Mill, home to the Midland Railway Study Centre.

An oval cast brass plaque with maroon background which reads 'Midland Ry Co. -  Makers  -  Derby, 1889.'

Older News...

Our News page has details of activities and stories from the recent past, including an update on the Silk Mill’s gradual transformation into the Derby Silk Mill Museum of Making.

A collection of about two dozen rectangular luggage labels with the names of a wide variety of station names. Many are coloured purple, others are cream.

Understanding Staff Records

Glynn Waite has very kindly shared a paper he has written which guides researchers around the many & varied potential pitfalls which exist within the National Archives’ “RAIL491” series of Midland Railway staff records. Drawing on his vast experience, Glynn provides illustrated examples which explain the often mysterious shorthand that the Company’s clerks used, and lead the reader through the records. With particular emphasis on the Coaching Department, he gives a comprehensive overview of the scope of the records, and just as importantly, highlights the gaps which exist. This is sure to be an extremely useful resource for family historians searching for details of their ancestor’s career on the Midland Railway.

Two men study a large plan in the Midland Railway Study Centre A collection of railway artefacts including a signal box lever frame, a bench labelled 'Tamworth High Level', signal box name boards on the walls

Site last updated: 00:04 Tuesday, 28 March 2017