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.
Several weeks on from Storm Babet and the resulting flooding of the Silk Mill, work continues to return the building to normal. The major clear up is almost complete allowing repairs to commence. In particular, the internal fire doors were damaged during the flood and until they are replaced there can be no occupancy of the building. There's also a lot of kitchen equipment that has to be replaced so reopening of the Museum of Making to the public still remains some way off.
As soon as we have an indication as to when the Midland Railway Study Centre can reopen, it will be announced here. In the meantime, as well as making use of the resources here on the web site, please feel free to email in any enquiries or questions you may have as we continue to “work remotely”.
WE WILL REMEMBER THEM
“The total number of employees of the Midland Railway Company who went out to take their part in the great fight against aggression was twenty-two thousand nine hundred and forty-one. Of this number, two thousand eight hundred and thirty-three made the supreme sacrifice, and those of us who are living under the freedom purchased at the cost of these lives cannot allow the memory of their devotion to die.”
— Frank Tatlow, General Manager of the Midland Railway
in his letter to the families of those listed on the Company War Memorial.
A quick tidy up
If you have visited the Museum of Making and spent time looking around Assemblage (and if not, why not?!), you may well have had a look inside some of the drawers which line the gallery. Many small items from the Roy F Burrows Collection are stored in these drawers. As with the rest of the Assemblage, as this is storage rather than conventional display space, no attempt is made to provide any interpretation (although we try to make sure our RFB item number label is visible so you can use this web site to look things up if they catch your eye). Over two-plus years that the Museum has been open, we have become somewhat concerned by the fact that when the drawers are re-closed, the momentum results in many of these items steadily finding their way to the back of the drawer. Frankly, the result is that the contents quickly become quite a mess.
Volunteers at the Museum have come to the rescue though, and have used an innovative piece of recycling in the process. Education is a huge part of what Derby Museums do and as a result, over the years they have acquired quite a number of iPads and other tech, which are used by pupils in and around the building. Meanwhile, the empty boxes these devices come in have been amassing and taking up space. Inspiration struck recently in that these sturdy and cushion-lined boxes are ideal for holding museum artefacts. So, and at the risk of inadvertently providing product placement for a fruit based computer company, these boxes have been pressed into service as trays for objects — with the happy outcome that everything now remains in place, no matter how hard visitors close the drawers.
Do you come here often?
If you do, you are obviously interested in some aspect of the Midland Railway and are getting some benefit from what we have to offer here — or so we sincerely hope! None of this would be possible without the Midland Railway Society and the Midland Railway Society cannot survive without members ...who are people just like you. As well as supporting the Midland Railway Study Centre (and gaining access to some really useful exclusive resources for MRS Members), membership connects you with a wide ranging community of knowledgable, friendly and helpful like-minded souls. All for the incredibly reasonable annual subscription of £20. This also includes; the Journal (three per year), Newsletter (quarterly), informative and convivial meetings, visits to places of historical Midland Railway interest and access to our well stocked bookstall.
With all that, what are you waiting for?
Click the copy of our leaflet below
to download a membership form and send it back to us. Easy.
To whet your appetite for a major new collection currently still being catalogued, this sample apportionment diagram gives a hint of what is contained within the 1,000+ signalling diagrams that will be available in the near future. Extending from Midland days into the BR era, the geographical coverage includes the Midland's heartland and beyond. Watch this space for more information in due course.
Researching Your Local Railway Station
Looking for a new project?
We are commonly asked asked how someone might begin to find out more about their local railway station - whether for personal interest or as part of more structured research. This led to the creation of our new Researching Your Local Railway Station page, with some suggestions about what points might be addressed and where to turn for answers. The list is far from exhaustive and some suggestions may not apply to all stations (it doesn't actually have to be your "local" station of course!). If nothing else we hope it inspires and we look forward to helping you.
The Study Centre leaflet
The Midland Railway Study Centre leaflet is available to download.
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.
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 62,500 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.
We have a wide range of 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.
Midland Railway Distance Diagrams
Inspired in part by our recent acquisition of the John McInnes Millar portfolio mentioned below, we have created a new resource on the site detailing the history and availability of the Midland Railway Distance Diagrams. If you are a Midland Railway Society member, make sure you are logged-on through the Member's Area to be able to view additional content.
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.
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...
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.
Social commentary from 1874!
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."
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, the older stories and features get 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.
This web site is dedicated to the Memory of Roy Burrows, David Geldard and all others associated with the Midland Railway Society and the Midland Railway Study Centre whom we have lost.
Site last updated: Saturday, 25 November 2023