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, please get in touch. We hope to see you at the Study Centre soon.

The Midland Railway Study Centre is very proud to be a Partner in Excellence with the National Railway Museum. The Midland Railway Society is also proud to be a member of the Heritage Railway Association.

Appointment Dates for 2016

The dates available for appointments to use the Midland Railway Study Centre can be found here. Details of how to book one of these dates are provided on the same page.

An update on the Silk Mill “Decant”

Following the successful bid for funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund in 2015, work in planning the “Derby Silk Mill Museum of Making” is getting into full swing. Bauman Lyons Architects of Leeds have been appointed to develop the design for the building and see the project through. Meanwhile, specialists in developing inspirational visitor environments, Leach Studio of Huddersfield, have been appointed to help “develop the look and feel of the exhibition and learning spaces”.

One of the most significant steps toward that objective is extensive work required on the fabric of the building itself. Having watched the building almost completely burn to the ground in 1910, our Edwardian forebears were determined to ensure that it wouldn't happen again. So, as it was rebuilt, they used a lot of asbestos to make it fireproof. That has all got to come out, and only then can the work of carrying out vital repairs to the structure itself be completed. Throughout all that the building has to be completely empty, meaning that 55,000 objects and documents from our part of the building alone will need “decanting” to temporary storage for the duration.

At this point we are expecting this task to begin in earnest in September 2017, though as will be imagined, preparations are already underway. Whilst it is inevitable that all our collection will be inaccessible during the decant, probably for the rest of 2017, we are optimistic that we will be able to make most of our documents available to researchers while in temporary storage. Even so, if you have a Midland Railway related research project “bubbling under” now, and into early 2017, is really the time to get stuck into it if you're going to want the help of our collections.

The logistics of the Decant are now being planned. One thing we are sure we will never have enough of is volunteers to get stuck in to the packing, lifting and shifting. If you're local to Derby, are in reasonably fit condition and want a worthwhile outlet for all those spare hours you have each week, we would be delighted to hear from you!

As for our place in the revamped Silk Mill ... The Derby Silk Mill Museum of Making ... the exact details have yet to be worked out, though we are certainly going to be in a different part of the building when we return in late 2019.

Exciting and busy times ahead.


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

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

The Midland Railway Society
and the Roy F. Burrows Collection Trust
have merged into a single organisation

Following the approval of the Midland Railway Society membership and the Charity Commission, the two registered charities have become a single entity operating under the name and charitable registration of the Midland Railway Society.

A new constitution for the Midland Railway Society has taken effect and the governance of the Midland Railway Study Centre becomes the responsibility of a new Collection Committee. An extremely helpful benefit of the merger has been the agreement of Derby Museums to provide a representative to sit on the MRS Collection Committee, thereby cementing the link that the Midland Railway Study Centre depends on.

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 details of the HLF grant to Derby Museums to help finance the redevelopment of the Silk Mill.

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 update: 16:06 Monday, 24 October 2016