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Derby’s Art Deco Gem

August 8, 2012

When I lived in Derby in a former life (so to speak) I used to pass this building every day as I travelled to work in the city centre.  At the time I never really gave it a second glance.

Derby Conference Centre, Derbyshire wedding venue

Back then it was the British Rail Training College, but it was recently reborn as The Derby Conference Centre and I was booked to sing there a few weeks ago.  I’m so pleased I finally got to have a proper look at it because it’s an absolute gem.

A carving of a steam train on the exterior of the old British Rail Training College in Derby

The British Rail Training College was Britain’s first purpose-built college for railway staff.  Costing £50,000 it was designed by architect William H. Hamlyn, the principal architect to the London Midland and Scottish Railway, and was built for use as a residential facility to train railway operatives and signallers.

The impressive building was constructed in 1937 and retains many of its original art deco achitectural features.

The front of the old British Rail Training College, now The Derby Conference Centre

In the lobby there are original 1930s ceiling lights and a staircase with a beautiful geometric handrail.

1930s art deco ceiling light at The Derby Conference Centre

Art deco 1930s staircase ballustrade at The Derby Conference Centre

The event I was booked to sing at was a 1920s-themed corporate dinner which was held in the Centre’s “Sunken Lounge”.

Derby Conference Centre's Sunken Lounge

The room was originally called The Hall of Transport and was built to house a very large electric gauge ‘O’ model railway on which students could learn the rudiments of signalling and train operation.  These days it provides a unique location for weddings and events such as the one I performed at.

The spectacular Sunken Lounge at The Derby Conference Centre

It proved to be the perfect setting for an hour of songs from my vintage repertoire.  I’m so glad I got the chance to have a proper lok at this art deco gem and I can’t wait to sing there again.

For more information about The Derby Conference Centre visit their website

One Comment leave one →
  1. August 8, 2012 3:35 pm

    Fantastic write up Simon, we are glad you enjoyed your visit. Regards, Mark Averill, The Derby Conference Centre.

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