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.
Welcome to the Midland Railway Study Centre
part of the Museum of Making at Derby's Silk Mill
Housed within the Derby Silk Mill, itself a World Heritage Site, and a part of the Museum of Making, 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 lasting impact on social history.
The Midland Railway Study Centre is home to the incomparable Roy F Burrows Midland Collection, over 2,500 objects from which are freely accessible within the Assemblage.
The Museum of Making opened to the public in 2021 following the building's multi-million pound renovation and a ground-breaking reimagining of what a museum looks like. 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
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.
Much Deserved Accolade for the Museum of Making
The Museum of Making has been shortlisted for the Museum of the Year award by the Art Fund. This is a hugely prestigious accolade and the excitement around the Silk Mill in the days following the announcement has been palpable. As one of their stakeholder partners, and one which contributes hundreds and hundreds of volunteer hours each year through the Study Centre, the Midland Railway Society is delighted to join the many organisations expressing their delight at the news. More details can be found here, but the final result will be announced on 14th July, with four other top class museums in the running.
Collections Revealed: Midland Railway
Making collections accessible from anywhere.
Earlier this year the Study Centre Co-ordinator was dragged kicking & screaming in front of a camera to talk about some of his favourite objects from the collection which are available on the Museum of Making's Assemblage.
Thanks to some good editing, most of the fumbled lines and indecisive stuttering have been consigned to the cutting room floor and the end result is something he can just bear to watch. We hope that you will be equally entertained by what the Museum have managed to create and will invest five minutes of your time...
The new Study Centre leaflet
We are delighted to announce that our new leaflet is now available.
It has been designed to compliment Derby Museum's house style while retaining its own “look & feel” to reflect the co-production nature of the Midland Railway Study Centre.
The A5 bi-fold document introduces the Study Centre and the history of the Roy F Burrows Midland Collection, as well as providing a brief introduction to the Midland Railway itself. Of course its primary role is to point people toward our resources... such as this web site!
If you'd like a look yourself, it can be downloaded as a PDF by clicking on the image to the right, or you can pick up a copy in the Museum of Making.
New for 2022
The Midland Railway Assemblage Trails
Everything in The Assemblage of the Museum of Making has a story to tell. Some objects perhaps have more to say than others and so we have developed these self-guided trails to help you discover more about some of what we consider to be the most interesting Midland Railway objects.
Needless to say, you don't actually have to be at the Museum of Making to enjoy them, but we do think the best way to appreciate what you're looking at is to visit in person, so we have tried to make these trails smartphone friendly.
There are currently two trails; one intended to be a little more light hearted and may be more suited to family groups. The other is pitched more toward those who might be looking for something a little deeper.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.”
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.
To try and keep the Home Page reasonably under control, some of the older stories and features have been moved to our Older News page. Here you'll find details of activities and stories from the recent (and not so recent) past, including old updates on the Silk Mill’s transformation into the Museum of Making.
The Midland Railway Study Centre web site is maintained by Dave Harris, the Study Centre Co-ordinator