Click here to return to the Study Centre Home Page

The Midland Railway’s Estate Agent plan collection

Please note that until the Midland Railway Study Centre returns from its temporary Site into the Museum of Making at Derby Silk Mill in Spring 2021, we very much regret that this collection is inaccessible and therefore not currently available for inspection.

Many hundreds of rolled plans in racking.

The Midland Railway Land Agent — later referred to as the Estate Agent — was part of the Engineer’s Department based at Derby. As the title suggests, their role was to deal with anything relating to land; whether it be buying & selling where necessary, or access over (or under) the railway by neighbouring land owners... It was a busy department and almost invariably their work would require the creation of a “sketch plan”. Even though they had many draughtsmen on hand, the Company strove for efficiency. Copies of all the plans they produced were kept so that when a further plan of the same location was needed the previous one could be copied or traced rather than starting from scratch. All these plans needed to be stored somewhere and there certainly wasn’t the room to do so in the Engineer’s offices. Therefore in the 1890s the by then redundant second (1863) station at Ambergate was put into use as a plan store.

View of the second station building at Ambergate from track level looking north

A man was employed as store keeper and plans, or requests for plans to be produced, would be dispatched by train between Ambergate and Derby. This use of the building continued through the LMS period into BR days. It was only in the late 1960s, when “modernisation” was the order of the day, that thoughts turned to demolishing this fine but otherwise inconveniently located building. Luckily before they did so, someone within BR had the presence of mind to offer the contents to Derby Museum — where they are now saved for posterity.

Derby Museum volunteer Bill Goodwin spent over 12 years compiling a detailed catalogue of these plans. However, when he started, computerised databases were in their infancy and so the only practical option was pen & paper. The system that Bill has used is based on John Gough’s Midland Railway Chronology. Each of the Midland's lines or branches was given an index number based on the page of its first entry in the Chronology. So for example, the North Midland line out of Derby is all indexed under 122.

Bill's work forms a fascinating list of the MR’s main lines, branch lines and, especially, the many nooks & crannies. The paper sheets forming the index amount to 5,300 pages and are contained in 16 lever arch folders. It is the contents of those folders which have now been digitised and each section is available below as a PDF. It is worth noting that whilst this is primarily a Midland Railway collection, the fact that the Ambergate store was used into British Rail days means that plans exist in the collection for lines which were subsequently absorbed by the London Midland Region (e.g. the former GNR line through Derby Friargate).

To use this index you need to download the PDF for the line or branch you are interested in. The order of the sheets within each file follows the sequence in the Chronology — but you won't need access to that book to follow along! The file sizes are quite modest, with the largest (containing 166 pages) being 2Mb. Most are a few kilobytes and the page count in the lists below will give you some idea of the file size to expect. The Place of a given plan is summarised at the bottom of each sheet. As/when you find a plan you might be interested in, please make a note of the Record Number at the top left of each sheet (e.g. 1971-384/432) and the Shelf half way down the sheet (e.g. 117).

(In the description of a few sheets you may see “P.T.O.”. However, due to the scanning method employed it hasn't been possible to capture the reverse side of the sheets in most cases. The omission of the information contained on the back of the sheets shouldn’t be detrimental to your search).


Midland Railway lines and branches:

Other railway companies and MR non-railway land:

How you can help the Midland Railway Study Centre

There is no charge for individual private researchers to use the Study Centre, whether visiting in person or making email enquiries. Our volunteers receive no reimbursement, not even for travelling, as they are happy to help. However, there are overheads in operating the Study Centre and we have a responsibility to properly conserve the material we hold and use. To that end, if you have received assistance from us and wish to show your appreciation, we have added this PayPal button for your convenience. Donations made in this way go to the Midland Railway Society are are 'ring fenced' for use in the Study Centre. Thank you.

The Midland Railway Society is a Registered Charity - Number 1149613