The Midland RailwayStudy Centre

February 2021 update

We are ready to go! Almost. We are agonisingly close to declaring the return to the Silk Mill complete. There are a few minor issues to deal with, and one major one — the fact we have no chairs in the Reading Room at the moment! All this will be taken care of in the coming days though. The one thing we can't take care of, obviously, is the pandemic. While we have been able to work through it within a Covid-safe regime, it has inevitably put the overall Museum of Making project back by many months. This means that while we may be chomping-at-the-bit, we can't welcome any visitors (even our own members) into the Silk Mill until such time as the rest of the building is ready. And until people are able to travel, of course.

One fairly major task which has now been completed is the relabelling of all the boxes with their new shelf numbers. We have been extremely fortunate to have had the help of several of the Museum's “Visitor Experience Assistants” with this. As they obviously have no Visitors to assist currently, this wonderful band of people have been redeployed to the Silk Mill to work on the fit-out. Thanks in particular to Becca, Shain, John, Pat, Julie and Jazz for their help. Accepting that looking at pictures of boxes is akin to watching paint dry, check out the new labels below!

A recurring theme of these updates has been to note significant milestones. One recent such event has been the return of our scanner and getting it back up and running. I am delighted to share the results of the first scan in its new home; RFB11306 — a colour washed two chain plan of Barnsley showing ownership by the Midland, Lancashire & Yorkshire and M.S. & L. Railways. The first of many, many scans to be done here.

Here are some more photos to give you a feel for how things are progressing ...

A magnificent rainbow over the Silk Mill and the River Derwent beyond

Starting outside this time. On 3rd February I emerged to see this marvellous rainbow and the Silk Mill lit by the low winter sun. For anyone who is spiritual or superstitious, let's hope this is a good omen for the start of the Museum of Making.

A large poster titled Going To London hangs on the wall

As you'll see below, the new store has been generously provided with racking for our framed & glazed collection (also known as flatworks), but some of them are simply too big to fit, like this reproduction of the famous Fred Taylor poster. The original of this poster from our collection will hang in the new Railways Revealed gallery. Indeed, a lot of the beautiful artwork and ephemera in the collection will likely be displayed elsewhere in the building in due course. For now however, as far as the Museum are concerned, they have a lot of flatworks to hang and only a finite amount of wall space, so it is a very much a work-in-progress in that regard.

A wide-format scanner and its comouter sits on a worksurface

As mentioned above, one of the significant milestones so far this month has been getting the scanner back up and running. The extra long work surface and the plan chest underneath have all been specifically provided so as to make handling large drawings as convenient and safe (for the drawings!) as possible.

Now boxes, boxes, boxes...

A row of steel racking filled with document storage boxes
Close up of some dark grey boxes and thier labels
Another row of steel racking filled with document storage boxes, this time predomiently tan coloured

There is no excuse for not being able to find anything now. The Catalogue has been updated with all the new shelf locations (itself a learning experience!) and all the labelling has been completed. Perhaps not the most interesting photographs you'll find on the internet, but the work this represents is far, far better behind us than in front of us!

Steel racking containng dozens of framed and glazed items stored on thier edges

Again with the invaluable help of the Museum's “VEAs”, all the framed & glazed items have been unwrapped for the first time since the 'Decant' and placed in the specially designed racking.

Another quick look elsewhere in the building...

A sign reads Welcome to the Italian Mill

I hope this picture speaks for itself; both in the message contained in the new signage and the nature of the activity taking place in the background. This is the ground floor of the Silk Mill and it will primarily be used for event hire. Although hidden from view here, the bar area in the far distance is formed of Viroc bonded cement board, as are many of the internal walls. This is because it is accepted that this area will occasionally flood and everything in it must either withstand a soaking or be quickly movable to the upper levels.

A large and detailed model of a Midland Raillway 'compund' locomotive in a display case

I know of at least one of our members, who worked on this model as an apprentice at the Derby Loco Works, will be glad to see it back in the building. It now rests in The Assemblage. This area has been mentioned in previous updates but it is worth restating the fantastic idea behind it. Instead of being locked away in dusty store rooms, it is a fundamental principle of the Museum of Making that all its collection (and ours) be accessible to all its visitors. The work this entails for the Museum's hard working and long suffering Collections Team (Sally, Jan, Eilish and Toni in particular) is enormous. Getting everything into the new Study Centre was like a giant jigsaw with no picture as a guide. This is exponentially more of a challenge. It will all fit. Repeat after me; It WILL All Fit, It WILL All Fit... [The Collections Team thank you for your faith!]

I hope you have enjoyed the latest update on progress to reopen the Midland Railway Study Centre. The Museum of Making is getting closer and closer to its reopening some time this Spring.

You can read the previous updates as well if you are interested:-