Works Revisited - Derby College - "The Roundhouse"
In December 1990 the local
press reported that BREL Derby Locomotive Works was to close completely with a
gradual rundown of the plant to be implemented over the following two years.
Demolition of the majority works followed, much of the newly acquired land being
transformed into Derby's new Pride Park business development. In the end little
remained, but the original 9 and 7 shops gained a reprieve taken over by the
then Bombardier Transportation for use as their bogie production premises. This,
however, was to be only a short term measure, and in 2006 after a scaling down
of production and eventual abandonment by Bombardier 9 and 7 shops were
Preserved Class 45/1 No.
45 118 stands in front of the original 1839 engine workshop, finally used as the
works general stores. To the right, the carriage workshop can be seen
latterly used for many years as 1 Shop (Millwrights).
A secure future was
assured though for the last remaining buildings of the once proud works. The
original 1839 Midland Railway workshops buildings consisting of the engine
shed, carriage workshop, locomotive roundhouse and adjoining office block were
given Grade II listed building status and awaited their new owner. Several years
passed, and the condition of these buildings was giving some serious concern
with much of the main structures in rapid decline. Several prospective buyers
came and went including Pete Waterman with an ambitious plan to use the premises
for his own railway enterprises. Finally, in 2007, contractors moved in on
behalf of the new owners, Derby College, with an exciting £48m plan for the
With the new college
campus opened in September 2009, in May 2010, I was privileged to be given
a personal guided tour around the finished project, the superb results of which
can be seen below, a fitting tribute to 150 years of locomotive engineering in
Derby. Derby Roundhouse was officially opened by HRH The Princess Royal on the
5th October 2010. As an ex-employee, the captions are described in context of the image
location in 1970's/1980's use. Many thanks go to the staff concerned at the
Derby College site for their help in obtaining these images.
32 years separate these two shots of the
original Midland Railway carriage workshop taken from the same vantage
point. On the left, 1978 in use
as BRELS 1 Shop responsible for the general maintenance of the whole Derby
Locomotive Works infrastructure. On the right, 2010,
the colleges new library.
(Click on the thumbnails for larger
from the first floor of the office block the old buildings railway past
is re-created in the form of an etching on the glass. The bridge which
once connected the offices to the station is reproduced with, if
you look carefully, a Victorian railway worker walking towards you!
library (1 Shop) as seen from the roundhouse corridor main entrance.
Latterly, this wall was bricked up, on the opposite side of which, 1Shop
stores was located.
to the roundhouse from the entrance corridor which, in the 1970's,
housed toilet cubicles on the side walls!
renovated roundhouse now used as a social area with refreshment
facilities provided. Note the original gantry cranes left in situ.
roundhouse radiating turntable lines/pits have been retained but
tastefully covered over in varnished timber. Although not shown in this
shot, one pit has been covered with glass to reveal the below
floor level working area. The cafeteria in the background was, in its
latter working life, the foreman's office.
roundhouses turntable and twin-crabbed main crane restored as part of
the building. I was reliably informed that the turntable still does work
but is isolated for safety reasons!
with all the listed buildings, the original cast iron window frames have
been retained. A view of the carriage workshop (1 Shop) from the
detail has been spared from the renovation project. Here, the roundhouse
vaults are shown. Originally used for storage, this underground passage
runs underneath the entire 16- sided buildings'
internal outer perimeter.
carriage workshop, the latter day 1 Shop Millwrights. To the rear is the
original foreman's office. The inset photograph included in the main
image is of a jovial Fred Calladine, one of the final
chargehands to oversee the workshop. The window to his rear is the window
behind the dark haired gentleman in the main image.
the college library, the carriage workshop/1Shop is viewed looking
in the direction of the roundhouse.
college library looking in the opposite direction to the above. In its
BREL days this area sited 1 Shop's machining area. The orange wall
partition in the background was the entrance to the works
original carriage workshop/1 Shop featured a unique addition, a first
floor perimeter balcony. Again, the buildings listed status meant this
had to be retained. In its 1 Shop days the balcony housed
small independent workshops which both serviced and repaired portable
hydraulic equipment, electrical/air hand tools, oxy/acetylene welding/
burning equipment and a section dedicated to the
manufacture of leather, rubber and gasket components for the locomotives
on site. Today, these small workshops have been replicated (possibly by
coincidence!) with classroom 'pods' which look
remarkably like the BREL structures they replaced!
further view of the college library balcony showing the classroom 'pods'
complete with students at work. Directly below the yellow pod was 1
Shop's main entrance complete with 'clocking in' clock!
still retained, another unique feature from the Midland Railway carriage
workshop days. The cast iron spiral staircase connects the now library
balcony with the main ground floor. This structure is
reputed to be one of the first cast iron staircases ever produced. The
design of the top steps seen in this shot are replicated throughout its
construction. Its fragile nature now results in it being fenced off
from today's 21st century hectic use.
stated earlier, all the original cast iron window frames have been
retained throughout the original buildings. Here, a view looking from
the college library building (carriage workshop/BREL 1 Shop)
sees two brand new structures and landscaping tastefully integrated into
the 1839 site.
external shot of the roundhouse from what is now the college car park.
The internal floor area of the roundhouse can be made out above the line
of the stone blocks, below an external entrance to the
vaults, described above, can be seen. In BREL days this area sited the
steel stock stores and only the top area of the building was visible.
Note the roof apex lantern, lost for many years, recreated in the
renovation of the structure. Again, attention to original detail has
strictly adhered to and the roundhouse roof has been replaced with hand
image which shows three of the four preserved buildings. The roundhouse,
left, the carriage workshop (1 Shop) and the office buildings, including
the ornate clock tower to the rear. The centre extension
in BREL days housed the 1Shop foreman and supervisor whilst the small
outbuilding above (located on 1 Shop balcony) was the home of the works
clockmaker/repairer. After many years of disrepair the
four-faced clock in the office tower is fully restored complete with
original 1839 Midland Railway engine shed. In its BREL days this
building was used as the works general stores. Historical note:
noticeable in this image is the change of ground level overcome by
the use of a slope. This difference in level continued throughout the main
buildings of the works giving the long used terms 'top yard' and 'bottom
yard' to describe locations within Derby locomotive works.
Midland Railways office complex complete with clocks, bell tower and
ornate locomotive themed weather vane. Its use as offices is repeated by
the college today. Originally, the building was built as
a two storey structure. A noticeable third was added 1859 -60.
superbly landscaped area now compliments the old buildings. This view
could not be seen in the works BR days, a 'modern' two storey office
complex occupied the open space now created.
of the carriage workshop which eventually became BREL 1 Shop. The main
entrance was originally sited where the wooden fire escape doors can be
seen on the left.
main entrance to the 'new' roundhouse. Its glazed entrance doors carry
an etching depicting an original Midland Railway steam engine waiting to
depart the historic workshop.
The Final Years - British Rail Engineering
Limited Shaded areas denote today's
1: 9 Shop Millwrights
2: Fuel Injectors (the Blue Room)
3: Foreman's Mess Room 4: Offices
5: Training School (3 Shop)
6: Chain Stores 7: 1 Shop Millwrights 8: Roundhouse (Crane Conversion - steam to
10: Steel stores
11: Metrology (later converted to a toilet block)
12: Garage - Works transport
13: Garage - Staff cars & garage office
14: Shot Blast & Paintspray
15: Top Yard (engine detail parts from 25 Shop)
16: Bottom Yard (fire extinguishers)
17: Compressor House
18: Locomotive Defuelling
19: 25 Shop engine test house
20: Locomotive washing plant (seldom used by this time)
21: Paxman Valenta engine test house
22: Paint Shop
23: White metal shop (bearings)
24: Locomotive load bank
25: Locomotive test house
28: Wood store
29: Paint store
30: Pattern (14) Shop
31: Pattern shop stores
32: 32 Shop (Pipe Fitting - locomotives) 33: 1 Shop Millwrights & Plumbers
34: Welding Training School