Today we had a site visit to look at the buildings on the former Great Northern Railway site off Friar Gate Derby.
Having once been an iconic part of Derby’s industrious past the site now remains undeveloped with the rotting Great Northern Railway (GNR) buildings signifying many years of neglect. The site was once part of the Great Northern Railway Empire that not only provided a passenger facility, but also serviced the industrial development of the town.
GNR lost its identity in 1923 becoming part of the London and North Eastern Railway who continued to operate the site with a passenger service until 1963 and a goods service until 1968 when the line was finally closed. Following the closure, the site was used by British Rail until the early 1980s when the council recognised the sites development potential and included it in the local plan.
With this potential identified the site was soon sold to Clowes Developments whose original approved planning application for residential and retail use was removed when the retained warehouse and engine shed became grade II listed in 1986. Other applications have followed but without any effect and with the site being ignored the buildings have suffered from many years of vandalism, arson attacks and little constructive maintenance. Without any intervention there is a real and immediate threat that these buildings could be lost forever and their links to Derby’s industrial past. Only 40 years ago the buildings were watertight, but now the warehouse building is more or less a roofless shell.