Derby Conference Centre
The Derby Conference Centre is a Grade II listed building which was constructed in 1937 as the first purpose-built training college for railway staff, and opened its doors to students in 1938. It is located on London Road, on the outskirts of the centre of Derby. It houses a number of period features including the famous 'sunken lounge' and art deco staircase.
The first of its kind in the United Kingdom, it was designed by William H. Hamlyn, the principal architect to the London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMSR) at a cost of £50,000.
Built as a residential facility to train railway operatives and signallers, the School was designed to accommodate fifty members of the company's staff at a time and officially opened on Friday 22 July 1938 by Mr Leslie Burgin, the Minister of Transport.
The 1980s saw the development of accommodation for the teaching staff being added to the site and in 1991 a new, prestigious, specialist conferencing suite was built.
In 2007 the RTC Group, parent company of the Derby Conference Centre, invested heavily in the site. Renovating the famous sunken lounge, bar, restaurant, conference suites and bedrooms to their former glory, and re-launching the site as The Derby Conference Centre.
As a part of the RTC Group, The Derby Conference Centre is also the site of sister firms; Catalis, a health and safety training specialist, and headquarters for recruitment consultancies ATA Recruitment and Ganymede Solutions.
The Derby Conference Centre was recently in the press when it played host to pop mogul and railway enthusiast Pete Waterman, who, enthralled by the building's heritage agreed to reveal a Transport Trust Red Wheel Plaque at the site. It bears information on the building and what it was and continues to be used for. Mr Waterman who was previously interested in transforming Derby's Roundhouse building, before it was restored by Derby College, said it was essential rail buildings were preserved. "This is an amazing building; it is easy to build flats but it is very difficult to get jobs," he said. "In this country, we have sold off a lot of the silver and what we have today we need to keep and make sure we sell no more."
A planning application by the site's owners, Arab Investments, to demolish buildings behind the centre and replace them with flats had recently been refused permission by Derby City Council shortly before Waterman's visit. It had been feared the loss of businesses housed there would cause the loss of 200 jobs from the city, and significantly damage the successful synergy between the businesses within the RTC Group (all of which are steeped in rail heritage)