Heritage Locations

LMS School of Transport, Derby

World's first purpose-built training college for railway staff.


Period of construction:
1900 - 1949

Transport Trust plaque:

Transport Mode:

Derby Conference Centre, London Road, Derby DE24 8UX

DE24 8UX

Nearest Town:

Heritage Centre:

The former Railway School of Transport, the first of its kind in the United Kingdom, was designed by William H. Hamlyn, the principal architect to the London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMSR) and built in 1937-38, at a cost of £50,000, to provide a residential facility to train up to fifty railway operatives and signallers at a time.

The art deco building is of brick with Portland stone dressings and a pantile roof to the principal range. The ground-floor of the main block has a Portland stone faced arcade of fine recessed and pilastered bays framing the recessed fenestration, between which are eight shallow carved bas-reliefs. These were designed by the sculptor Denis Dunlop but executed locally, each one a rectangle containing a representation of an aspect of the LMS's activities: loco building, rolling stock construction, signals and telegraphs, civil engineering, architecture, research, marine transport and traffic operations.

Above the portico is a full-height staircase window with multiple lights set within an architrave with a carved stone cartouche bearing the crest of the LMSR reaching to the parapet. From the roof above the portico, the slender lantern rises in two stages, capped with a modest cupola bearing a (restored) weathervane topped by a gilded star, which, according to the Railway Gazette, 'symbolises the continued optimism and faith in the railway service'.

To either side of the double doors leading from the entrance hall through into the heart of the building are two striking painted mural panels by Norman Wilkinson. On the left is of an LMSR ferry leaving port, the one on the right of three generations of locomotives spanning a century of steam, embodied by the LMS in 1938 -The Rocket, a late-19th-century coal engine, and a then-new streamlined Princess Coronation Pacific, in full blue and white livery. The doorway leads to what was originally called The Hall of Transport, now known as The Sunken Lounge', the sunken centre surrounded by colonnades. The room was originally built to house a very large electric gauge 'O' model railway which ran within the colonnade and on which students could learn the rudiments of signalling and train operation. It was a key space in the building. The railway was removed in the 1960's.

During the Second World War, the building became the railway training college for the Royal Engineers and was used in conjunction with the local Melbourne Military Railway. After the war, it was used to rehabilitate railway workers who had been involved in military action. In the 1950's a diesel traction demonstration building was added onto the site and a range of mechanical and electrical engineering courses were introduced. In 1976 the school was retitled to become The Railway Engineering School when the central training school for signalling and telecommunications was set up. This introduced foundation electronics and signalling system courses.

During the 1980's, further teaching accommodation was added. In 1991 a conferencie suite was constructed for the british Rail's Quality and Safety Services Department. In 1994, the Civil Engineering Training Centre (CETC) transferred from Watford to Derby and the Railway Engineering School, Derby Signalling, and Telecommunications Training Centres at Clapham, Crewe, Edinburgh, Ilford, Reading and York amalgamated to form the College of Railway Technology, relaunched in 1998 as Catalis Rail Training Ltd. Now the Derby Conference Centre and 50 bedroom hotel It is a Grade II Listed Building.


Anderson, V.R. and Fox, G.K., A Pictorial Record of LMS Architecture, OPC, ISBN 86093 083 1 (1981)

Nock, O. S., A History of the LMS London, Midland and Scottish Railway, Volume 1: The First Years, 1923-1930, George Allan & Unwin, ISBN 0 04 385093 6 (1982)

Nock, O. S., A History of the LMS London, Midland and Scottish Railway, Volume 2: The Record-breaking Thirties, 1931-1939, George Allan & Unwin, ASIN: B000O52UYA (1982)

Nock, O. S., A History of the LMS London, Midland and Scottish Railway, Volume 3: The War Years and Nationalisation, 1939-48, Harper Collins, ISBN-10: 0043850979 (1983)

Whitehouse, Patrick & St John Thomas, David, LMS 150: The London Midland and Scottish Railway - A Century and a Half of Progress, David & Charles, ISBN-10: 0715313789 (2002)

Opening Times:
Permanently viewable.

How To Find:
By road: On A6, London Road, 1.5km from city centre.


Weather Feed currently unavailable.