Part of the Museum of Making located with 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 enduring legacy on our social history.
This site will 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.
Part of the Museum of Making at Derby 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 enduring legacy on social history.
Please note that the Midland Railway Society web site (www.midlandrailwaysociety.org.uk) is currently “frozen” following the sad and unexpected death of our Webmaster, Ashley Sanders.
The Museum of Making opened to the public on Friday, 21st May and was formally opened by the Duke of Devonshire on 24th September. You can make a booking to use the Midland Railway Study Centre: read more here.
For a look at the new Study Centre
please visit our updates page
Our Resources page, which outlines all the ways you can use this site for your own independent research, is still available.
Midland Railway Society Members
Please log in to the Members' Area to read about volunteering opportunities. Your Society still very much needs YOU!
This site will 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 very soon.
Marking the Centenary of the Death of Newton Hibbert
You may be wondering who on earth was Newton Hibbert? He is commemorated on a plaque now prominently displayed in the Railways Revealed gallery of the Museum of Making. His remarkable story is celebrated here, but in short, he was very likely the longest serving railwayman in history.
Monday, 1st November 2021 marks 100 years since his death. His memorial plaque is special to us at the Midland Railway Study Centre as it represents not just this one man, but in some small way, all the tens of thousands of men (certainly not overlooking the small but notable number of women as well), many of whom similarly dedicated most or all of their working lives to the service of the Midland Railway.
For that reason we will be marking the anniversary of his passing.
Anton Rippon has written a lovely piece about Newton and the centenary of his death for the Derby Telegraph “Bygones” column which is well worth a read. Thank you Anton.
You may be interested to know that the gothic script “Midland Railway” used in the titles above is derived from a drawing office stencil held in the MRSC collection.
It is Item Number: 77-11873 if you want to have a look at the original.
Spirits of the Midland Railway
A special video presentation
One of the incalculable ways in which 2020 was 'unusual', was that the Midland Railway Society was forced to hold its Annual General Meeting in October, using the (then) novel medium of video conferencing software. In lieu of the traditional presidential address, a specially produced video was premiered to those members “in attendance”.
The video was titled Spirits of the Midland Railway and features a selection of Midland Railway staff who are buried in Derby's Nottingham Road Cemetery. It runs for a little under 25 minutes and visitors to this web site are most welcome to view it on Youtube if you wish.
A bit of a spat...
The Victorian railway is said to have had a bureaucracy second only to the civil service. Frankly, with the myriad of passengers and goods of near-infinite variety moving around the network, all to be accounted for and revenue collected (or compensated when things went wrong), I think the railway's army of clerks would have run rings round their government counterparts. Here's an example of when things didn't go quite right, and indeed got rather terse. Click or tap the image for a larger version.
Official Postcards of the Midland Railway
The Midland Railway Society is delighted to publish as a free download a booklet titled The Official Postcards of the Midland Railway .
This 40 page, well illustrated, work traces the general history of the postcard and moves on to follow the evolution of Midland official cards from 1896 through to the grouping. It deals in detail with the early map cards, the very attractive sets of cards featuring views in Midland territory, cards promoting the company’s new steamer services from Heysham and those featuring the company’s hotels. A section is dedicated to the tricky subject of overprints on card backs to make them suitable for correspondence from the various departments of the Midland Railway.
To find out more and download a copy, please visit this page.
A quick little addition to the site; extracted from Appendix No. 20 of 1899 - a list of Up and Down lines of the Midland Railway.
The on-line catalogue currently contains over 60,500 entries, with more & more gaining thumbnail illustrations. Meanwhile the number of links to high resolution downloads has passed the 1,275 mark — and continues to grow.
There are also a wide range of downloadable resources
which you can access from this web site at any time
During our sojourn at the Temporary Site to allow the builders to do their work at the Silk Mill, access to our physical collection is unavoidably reduced. We have therefore detailed the many and varied downloadable resources which allow you to research Midland Railway history without the need to actually visit us. These can all be accessed on our...
There you will find pointers to the various corners of this site which will help you find your subject of interest.
To see which parts of the country were served by the Midland Railway, please click this thumbnail to view a system map from 1914.
Extracted from a series of random notes by the late George Dow (Item No. RFB00998):
During a lengthy discussion among a cosmopolitan gathering in Paris shortly after World War I the question was posed what is most characteristic of the English people? Various suggestions were proffered.... 'Punch', a London policeman, a public schoolboy and finally, a Midland third-class dining car, which was accepted by all!
The Midland Railway was about much more than trains
This drawing was prepared by the Midland Railway's Carriage & Wagon Department just before the First World War to illustrate the myriad types of hand-drawn barrows and trollies they were manufacturing. The uses to which these vehicles were put were many & varied, perfectly illustrating the wide variety of functions which a railway company undertook.
Clicking the above image will download a 4.2Mb scanned Jpeg of the drawing which we hope you will find fascinating. It is one of more than 1,200 items which can now be downloaded from our on-line catalogue. If you haven't looked at it lately, we hope you will find the catalogue worthwhile browsing and that you'll find plenty of interest.
Some things never change. Lest it be thought the Midland Railway was free from criticism, this extract is from “Original manuscript notes by R E Charlewood, being a contemporary review of the Midland Railway timetable of July 1905 with suggestions for possible improvements” (Item No. RFB01026) :
Saturday August 12th.
“Main line very unpunctual as number of up trains 40, 50 or 60 late at Bedford. West trains equally bad at Birmingham. Hopeless confusion prevailed. Many were delayed and there were a lot of returning Volunteer excursion trains from Salisbury Plain and M'head. Regular traffic and excursions were heavy but much of the delay was due to Bad Working.”
The Midland Railway staff of Ashchurch Junction
We are absolutely delighted to host the fruits of painstaking research conducted by Brian Harringman, which details the men and women who were employed by the Midland Railway at Ashchurch in Gloucestershire. Using a wide variety of both genealogical sources and railway documents, Brian has built up a comprehensive record, not only of the individuals concerns, but also of scope and nature of the work they were engaged in. Ashchurch was a significant location for the Midland Railway, not only as a junction, but as the site of one of the Company's most important Provender Stores. Even if you don't have a direct interest in the Ashchurch area, Brian's research provides an invaluable insight into working methods typical of rural railway stations in the late 19th and early-to-mid 20th centuries. Like all research, this project can never be declared "finished", but it has clearly long reached the stage that it is deserving of sharing.
Are you researching a Midland Railway related subject?
Are you looking for an outlet for your work? The Midland Railway Society's Journal is always on the lookout for new material and would be delighted to publish your work. You don't have to be a Midland Railway Society member (though we'd like it if you became one!)
Of course there is always that feeling that “it's not quite finished” or otherwise not ready for public show. That's a natural worry, and even if it is true, think of the benefits of publishing an excerpt of your work or showcasing a particular aspect of your research. The benefit of exposure to a wide audience of knowledgeable Midland Railway Society members can be very significant in terms of new information or material you receive by way of feedback. That said, it is important not to feel intimidated — MRS members are without fail a friendly bunch!
If you have anything which you would like us to consider for publication in the Journal, please contact the Study Centre Coordinator at the details at the bottom of the page.
Our News page has details of activities and stories from the recent past, including updates on the Silk Mill’s transformation into the Derby Silk Mill Museum of Making.
Site last updated: Saturday, 9 October 2021