AN INTRODUCTION TO
THE MIDLAND RAILWAY STUDY CENTRE
The Midland Railway Study Centre began as a collaboration of three organisations:-
In 2016 the Roy F Burrows Midland Collection Trust merged into the Midland Railway Society as a single registered charity.
The Study Centre is located within Derby’s Silk Mill and houses the Midland Railway ephemera and artefact collections of the three organisations. This makes it the largest collection of Midland Railway material anywhere. The Midland Railway Study Centre opened on Monday, 10th May 2004, 160 years to the day after the formation of the Midland Railway.
The collection comprises over 50,000 individual items, around 90% of which comes from the Roy F Burrows Collection. Meanwhile Derby Museums have a large collection of railway items, very little of which had been available to the public prior to the formation of the Study Centre. The Study Centre therefore provides a showcase for the Company that fundamentally shaped the communities it served, most especially the modest market town that became the City of Derby.
A great deal of the collection consists of three dimensional objects. These range from cast iron signs, through signalling material (nameboards, box diagrams, signal arms and even a coach door!) to silverware and crockery from hotels, dining cars, and steamships. Regrettably, lack of display space means that this part of the collection is not ordinarily on show to the public. However, items can be made available for viewing by arrangement.
Interesting though the hardware undoubtedly is, the strength of the Study Centre is its paper records and, most importantly, how the two link together. The Study Centre boasts a wide range of timetables (both public and working), notices, memos & circulars, tickets, maps, plans, drawings.... There are many ledgers in the collections, reflecting the diversity of the Company’s record-keeping needs, and often remaining in use from the late 19th Century into the British Railways period! Altogether the document collection is a veritable treasure trove of primary material relating to the history of the Midland Railway, its constituents, and its joint lines.
Of course the visual record of the Company has not been forgotten. Most of the photographs originating from the Roy F Burrows Collection are held in a partnership with the successful and comprehensive Kidderminster Railway Museum’s photographic archive. Read more about our relationship with KRM on this page.
Conservation of the material is something that the Study Centre and its host, Derby Museums, take very seriously. Reproduction facilities are available to readers, though the most non-invasive methods possible are used. To that end, the use of non-flash digital photography is encouraged. Of course reproduction can be an issue and all our visitors have to carefully consider whether copyright or any other restriction applies, though research for private purposes is normally not problematical.
Details of how to arrange a visit to the Study Centre can be found elsewhere on this web site. Two visitors can be accommodated at a time and there are at least 20 dates each year for which bookings can be made.
The Study Centre is operated by volunteers drawn from the ranks of the Midland Railway Society and all give their time freely. They are responsible for producing the material on request of the visitor and stewarding the use of the reading room. This is a vital role and the more volunteers we have the better. Membership of the Midland Railway Society is a prerequisite to volunteering at the Study Centre.