Steam Museum of the Great Western Railway
Fire Fly Avenue
M51.564274 W1.797839 (Nearest public parking lot)
Swindon Railway Works was opened by the Great Western Railway (GWR) in 1843. At that time the GWR had been purchasing locomotives for its London to Bristol broad gauge line from various manufacturers since 1836 but by 1837 it became clear a central repair facility was required to maintain its mix of engines. Daniel Gooch was appointed Superintendent of Locomotive Engines by the GWR's Chief Engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Swindon's first new broad gauge locomotive, the "Premier", was constructed in 1846. Several more of these 7 foot 1/4 inch gauge engines were built becoming known as the "Iron Duke" class. The Iron Duke class were extremely fast with an estimated top speed of about 80 mph (130 km/h). By 1851 Swindon employed over 2,000 men and produced about one locomotive a week. The first standard-gauge engine was constructed in 1855. By 1867 the Works was constructing wagons and passenger cars. Swindon reached its peak about 1927 when the Works employed 14,000 persons with the main locomotive fabrication shop covering 11.25 acres alone, one of the largest in the world at that time. Locomotives produced included the Castle Class, King Class, and the "Halls" which were the foundation of the GWR's reputation. Following World War II diesel-hydraulic locomotives were produced evolving into the more reliable diesel-electric locomotive. The Works were now on a downward spiral. By the 1960's the employee count was reduced to only 5,000. Swindon closed on 26 Mar 1986. One original core building presently houses the Swindon STEAM Railway Museum dedicated to the Works and the GWR. Most of the other remaining Works structures have been redeveloped into the Designer Outlet Village. The year 2016 marks 175 years since the Works inception in 1841.
To get the most from your visit to the Swindon Steam Railway Museum, please follow the arrows on the map provided in this folder to the right:
15 Jul 2011 - Enthusiast Makes History with Miniature Model
17 Nov 2012 - STEAM Museum Buys Rare Wheel Guard
11 Mar 2013 - Hornby Launches Swindon Locomotive Model
6 Sep 2013 - Full Steam Ahead for Popular Railway Festival
3 Jul 2015 - Historic Steam Engines Loaned to STEAM Museum
30 Nov 2015 - See King George V and City of Truro
25 Feb 2016 - Did a Ham Sandwich Cause Swindon to Become a Boomtown?
22 Mar 2016 - Swindon's Hooters Heard for First Time in 30 Years
10 Sep 2016 - Steam Trains Roll into Town for Railway Festival
26 Apr 2017 - Royal Scot Travels Through Swindon
This book was published by British Rail Engineering Ltd. to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the passenger carrying Stockton & Darlington Railway Company and Swindon's contribution to railways during the period.Swindon & the GWRFelicity Ball and Tim Bryan2003TempusPaperback128 pages US$30.00 (Amazon)
The Great Western Railway at Swindon dominated the history of the town for almost 150 years. This book gives a selection of photographs featuring the men and women who worked at Swindon, as well as a glimpse of life beyond the walls of the factory. As well as rare and unpublished pictures, this volume also provides an insight into the Great Western empire away from the works itself, including views of stations, structures, and trains to be found on a rail journey from the town.Great Western at Swindon Works, TheAlan S. Peck2009Heathfield Railway PublicationsHardcoverUS$35.38 (Amazon)
First edition by Oxford Publishing Company in 1983. 281 pages with 227 black and white photographs and illustrations. The story of the Swindon engineering works, over the 150 years of its existence, the largest single asset of the Great Western Railway.In and Around Swindon WorksPeter Timms2012Amberley PublishingKindle274 pages US$7.61 (Amazon digital version)
In and Around Swindon Works covers further aspects of the famous manufacturing centre of the Great Western Railway during its heyday of 1930 to 1960. This is the second half of a detailed work begun with the book Working at Swindon Works 1930-1960. In piecemeal form, much has been written about Swindon Works but many aspects of it have remained neglected until now. From ex-employees, both male and female, and printed material such as surviving GWR circulars and internal documents, the author has compiled a comprehensive study. Manufacturing processes, factory conditions, senior staff, office routines, design and development, training, and the significance of the Works within the railway company are all covered to some extent. There are chapters on raw materials and General Stores, the Drawing Office, steam and diesel locomotive building and overhaul, the Carriage and Wagon department and its staff, wartime conditions and war work, CME accounts, fires, accidents, housing, medical care, and as the title suggests, there is something of the home and social life of the staff as well. The end result is not complete but so long after the events, it's near enough as old Swindonians would have said.Steam Workshops of the Great Western Railway, TheKen Gibbs2014The History PressPaperback208 pages US$32.95 (Amazon)
As the Great Western Railway grew, it absorbed a huge number of railway companies, the astonishing figure of 353. Many had their own workshops, depots and manufacturing, often assembling their own locomotives to the design of other companies. All these, along with the various designs, became the responsibility of the Great Western on takeover and followed its standardization of components where it could be done. Retired GWR railway man Ken Gibb tells the story of the growth and expansion of the steam workshops, all now Great Western property, which thrived until the end of the steam era.Swindon Works Through TimePeter Timms2015Amberley PublishingPaperback96 pages US$22.95 (Amazon)
Built under Brunel's patronage as engineer of the line, the Great Western Railway approved the construction of Swindon works in 1841, and they were completed by 1843. Centrally located between London and Bristol, the works grew from its small beginnings to being the site of the construction of thousands of locomotives. With its own facilities, including a lending library and Mechanic's Institute, the works finally closed down in 1986. Many of the buildings were listed, and the site now hosts the Museum of the Great Western Railway, a shopping centre, and English Heritage's headquarters.Swindon Works: Apprentice of SteamKen Gibbs2016Amberley PublishingPaperback224 pages US$29.95 (Amazon)
Renowned throughout the world as a center for engineering excellence, the Swindon Works of the former Great Western Railway hold a special place in the affections of rail enthusiasts. Former Swindon apprentice Ken Gibbs remembers the sights, sounds, smells, and work from the days of Great Western steam at this magnificent institution. This book recalls with fondness and nostalgia a period that was really the beginning of the end of steam and the start of a new era. Ken Gibbs' family has long had an association with the Great Western. He started his apprenticeship at Swindon Works in 1944.Swindon Works the LegendRosa Matheson2016The History PressHardcover192 pages US$24.95 (Amazon)
The age of steam is past, the reality of Swindon Works is long gone now, but the legend lives on. What made the Great Western Railway's Swindon Works iconic? Was it its world wide reputation? Perhaps its profound impact in shaping New Swindon town, or that it melded those who worked inside into one big family? This book, by popular railway historian Rosa Matheson, provides some answers in a new, exciting format it helps explain why the never-ending love story continues. With big facts and fascinating stories it is a must read not only for insiders and their families and heirs, nor just for GWR fans and railway enthusiasts everywhere, but also to newcomers seeking to find a way into railway history.