The History Of The LMS School Of Transport College
The LMS School of Transport College on the London Road in Derby’s outskirts has played an important part in the education of railway workers since it was designed by William H. Hamlyn and built in 1937. When it first began teaching students, the school was a simple residential facility that was the first of its kind and able to train just fifty workers in signalling and operations at any one time; by the 1970s the school has expanded greatly and proved to be a vital establishment for the development of the railways.
The building began as a striking testament to the history and nobility of the railways and transport industry. It was as much a place of education for the engineers of the future as it was a monument to achievements of the past. The art deco building was carefully thought out to best accommodate the students and their studies – such as the inclusion of the “Sunken Lounge” that housed a large electric railway complete with engine, track and signalling – but there were also many beautifully crafted designs and details. Highlights on display in the school were the eight bas-reliefs at the windows that represented different areas of study, a gilded star on a lantern in the hall, which supposedly indicated the schools faith in the industry, and a mural by Norman Wilkinson that depicted great engines and designs like The Rocket and Princess Coronation Pacific.
As the century continued, the purpose of the LMS School of Transport College developed to meet its needs.
Not long after the school opened, the focus of activities was forced to change direction due to the Second World War. During the 1940’s the school became a training college for Royal Engineers where they used a local line, known as the Melbourne Military Railway, between Derby and Ashby-de-la-Zouch for practical work in the building, demolition and restoration of railway lines. Once the conflict ended, the line and the expertise of the college was put to good use once more as a form of rehabilitation for railway workers that had been involved in the war and the 1950s saw an expansion of the school with a diesel traction demonstration building and some new courses in engineering. Engineering would become an important part of the establishment and in 1976 it was understandably renamed the The Railway Engineering School where it became the ideal training centre for signalling, telecommunications and electronics.
The modernisation and redevelopment of the LMS School of Transport College continued across the rest of the 20th century, with the rebranding of the school as Catalis Rail Training Ltd., until 2007 when it was transformed once more to meet the need of the local community. The building received a Grade II listing and is now the home of the Derby Conference Centre. The famous “Sunken Lounge” was carefully renovated and the former bedrooms and classroom are now conference rooms, bars and restaurants. Despite this change in purpose, the original designs and feel of the old school remains; it was recently awarded a Transport Trust Red Wheel Plaque and local supporters will ensure that its history is never forgotten.