Derby Locomotive 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 eventually demolished.

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 buildings' future....

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 images)

 Taken 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!

 The 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.

 Entrance to the roundhouse from the entrance corridor which, in the 1970's, housed toilet cubicles on the side walls!

 The renovated roundhouse now used as a social area with refreshment facilities provided. Note the original gantry cranes left in situ.

 The 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.

 The 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!

 As with all the listed buildings, the original cast iron window frames have been retained. A view of the carriage workshop (1 Shop) from the roundhouse.

 No 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.

 The 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.

 Now the college library,  the carriage workshop/1Shop is viewed looking in the direction of the roundhouse.

 The 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
 plumbers shop.

 The 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!

 A 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!

 Again, 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.

 As 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.

 An 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 been strictly adhered to and the roundhouse roof has been replaced with hand crafted slates.

 An 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 hourly chime!

 The 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. 

 The 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. 

 A 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.

 Exterior 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.

 The 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 buildings.

   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

   9: Gymnasium
  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
  26: Rewinds
  27: Gearboxes
  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



More On This Website:-
Derby Locomotive Works Then & Now

Derby Locomotive Works Locomotives

External Links:-
Our Transport Heritage - Derby Roundhouse

Bygone Derbyshire -​Loco And Carriage And Wagon Works - A Brief History
Derby College - The Roundhouse

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