About Us

The Derby Railway Engineering Society (DRES) was founded in 1908 to serve the needs of the railway engineering community in Derby, England, a prestigious function which it continues to this day.

DRES, today, performs the following functions:

  • Organises LECTURES inclined towards engineering which affects the railways.
  • VISITS to places of railway and engineering interest

The Society does this to:

  • Promote knowledge sharing and exchange of free ideas within the Railway and Engineering industry, as well as the railway enthusiasts’ circles.
  • Providing the opportunity for business networking by involving and engaging professionals with an interest in the railways and in engineering.
  • Helping railway professionals in career development.
  • and even provide an opportunity for just people interested / enthusiastic about the railways to engage in industry related discussions and lively social contact.

Our membership today includes people from all levels of the railway industry, engineers from other industries,  and also simply those who have a keen interest in railways from an engineering perspective. The Society is endorsed by various senior members of the railway industry who form the Vice Presidents of the Society and actively support our activities. Such a rich mix of people with diverse interests and career backgrounds rarely comes together, as is demonstrated by DRES’ members group. Find out how you can avail the Benefits of joining DRES.

Most of our lectures are open to members and non-members alike. A nominal fee might apply for non-members depending on the event. The Society encourages interested parties to apply for membership which gives many added benefits including access to a library of online material.

History of the Society

The origins of the Society can be traced back to the days of the Midland Railway Company whose headquarters and main workshops were in Derby. With the object of encouraging the interchange of technical expertise amongst its engineering staff, the Midland Railway Engineering Club was proposed. The inaugural meeting was convened on Friday, 2 October, 1908, under the chairmanship of Mr Fowler, later to become Sir Henry Fowler and Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company.

No time was lost in recruiting members and calling the first Annual General Meeting. This took place on 15 October, 1908 and was attended by no fewer than 150 of its 264 members. Sir Ernest Paget, Bart, was elected as the President and he remained in office until 1912.

The technical papers presented in the first year were of a very high standard and included the subjects of Train Lighting; Railway Bridge Design and Calculations; and Electric Power Signalling. A paper was presented by Mr J Dalziel, a British pioneer of single-phase electrical traction and, finally, The Education of the Mechanical Engineer, read by Mr H Fowler.

In 1923, the many railways companies existing at that time – including the Midland – were amalgamated to form just four large companies and the name of the Club was changed to The Derby Railway Engineering Club to reflect Derby as being the headquarters of the newly created London Midland and Scottish Railway.

The Club’s activities were suspended in October 1939 with the outbreak of the Second World War and re-established in May 1949, when Mr TFB Simpson, Manager of the Derby Locomotive Works of the recently nationalised British Railways, was elected President. By 1950, the membership had grown to 300 and reached its maximum of some 630 in the 1970s. In the following years, the scale of the railway industry in Derby gradually diminished, falling abruptly with the privatisation of the railways. These changes were reflected by a corresponding decline in membership. Today, the membership numbers stand at 200 and remain firm.

In 1994, the title was changed to the current Derby Railway Engineering Society to reflect its current remit of supporting the diverse range of commercially independent railway engineering, consultancy, analytical support services and a local train service provider, all of whom are based in Derby. The Society forms an informal link between these otherwise separate organisations to benefit from sharing information and expertise; in much the same way as it served the technical staff of the Midland Railway Company in 1908.

In 2008, the Society celebrated its centenary with special events including a reception and separate lecture at the Derby Council House.  It also published a Centenary Book and commissioned centenary merchandise, in the form of engraved glassware and woven neck tie carrying the Society’s crest

The badge of the Society, shown at the top of the page, is modelled closely on the coat of arms of the original Midland Railway Company. The crest is the Wyvern of Mercia, while the shield incorporates the arms of some of the towns and cities served by the Midland Railway: Bristol, Derby, Birmingham, Leeds, Lincoln and Leicester.


About DRES Presentation