Roy Burrows has been collecting Midland Railway hardware and ephemera for most of his adult life. When the 150th Anniversary of the formation of the Midland Railway came around in 1994, his collection formed the core of the highly regarded Midland 150 Exhibition. This, in turn, created the impetus for his collection to be converted into a Charitable Trust and thereby made more accessible. This happened in 2000 and in 2004 the objective to have the collection available to the public came to fruition in the form of the Midland Railway Study Centre. In partnership with the Midland Railway Society and Derby Museums, the Study Centre is housed within Derby’s Silk Mill and opened its doors to researchers on the Midland Railway’s 160th Anniversary.
Over the subsequent ten years, the management of the Study Centre has carried on under the auspices of those three organisations. However, a number of factors combined to make it far more practical that management of the Roy F Burrows collection be taken over by the Midland Railway Society. A proposal to merge was put forward which was examined closely by the Midland Railway Society’s Trustees and members, as well as gaining the very necessary approval of the Charity Commission. The revised constitution needed to implement the changes was approved at an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Midland Railway Society in November 2015 and the merger took effect from 9th February 2016. From that date, the Midland Railway Society took over responsibility for the 43,515 carefully catalogued and stored items of Midland Railway history.
The organisational structure of the Society going forward will be an Executive Committee which will deal with the running of the Society while delegating all matters relating to collections and the Midland Railway Study Centre to a new Collections Committee. The final say in all matters, including the budget available to the Collection Committee, will sit with the Society’s elected Trustees.
As the responsibilities of the new Collection Committee subsumes that of the former Study Centre “Management Group”, Derby Museums have appointed a senior member of staff — Daniel Martin — to sit on the Society’s Collection Committee. Given that the Silk Mill is about to begin the long metamorphosis into the Derby Museum of Making through a £20M redevelopment, this concrete show of faith by Derby Museums could not be more welcome.
The Roy F. Burrows Collection will continue to be actively developed. A new Collection Development Policy has been approved by the Society’s Trustees and strictly determines how the funds earmarked to the collection will be spent. It is also recognised that there are members of the Midland Railway Society who have, or who will, choose the Society to look after their collections once they are no longer able to do so. These collections will remain independent of the Roy F. Burrows Collection and will have their original donor’s name associated with them in perpetuity.
There is no doubt that the merger is the biggest thing to happen to the Midland Railway Society since it converted into a open society over twenty years ago. Combined with a desire to develop closer links with the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway in order to provide another means of displaying more of the collection to the public, the enlarged Society can look forward to a bright (and busy!) future.