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 Internal link   Location

Steam Museum of the Great Western Railway
Fire Fly Avenue
United Kingdom
M51.564274 W1.797839 (Nearest public parking lot)

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 Internal link   Introduction

 Image 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.

 Internal link   A Museum Tour

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:

 Internal link Here are the main areas of the Collection:

  • Introduction - Dramatic archive film, with stories from GWR workers;
  • The Works - Recreations of the famous Swindon Railway Works and more stories from "inside";
  • The Finished Product - The opportunity to get up close to, and walk underneath, the legendary GWR locomotive number 4073 "Caerphilly Castle";
  • Building The Railway - Meet Brunel face-to-face and hear from the navvies' who did the hard work;
  • Operating The Railway - Have a go on our steam train simulator and climb onto the footplate 6f "Dean Goods";
  • Uffington Signal Box - Test your skills as a signalman in our interactive Signal Box;
  • Great Western Goods - The Pannier Tank engine and shunting wagon, don't worry, our horse won't bite;
  • Viewing Platform and Special Exhibitions - The London to Bristol railway line, Wall of Names, and Special Exhibition area;
  • Station Platform - Featuring famous GWR and Western Region locomotives. Hear Brunel's comments on railway catering;
  • Speed To The West - Amazing push-button model railway plus Seaside Pier, complete with traditional slot machines.
 Internal link   Posters
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 Internal link   News Articles

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

23 Sep 2014 - Brunel's Engine Shed and Workshops Unearthed at Paddington

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?

28 Feb 2016 - Coldstream Guards Marching into Swindon for Special Concert

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

 Internal link   Associated Links

Swindon Steam Railway Museum (STEAM)
Swindon 175
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Swindon Works
The Story of the GWR
GWR Archive
GWR Modelling
Didcot Railway Centre
National Rail
Great Western Railway

 Internal link   Bibliography
 Image Swindon Works
Great Western Railway
Great Western Railway
40 pages US$24.75 (Amazon)

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.

 Image Swindon & the GWR
Felicity Ball and Tim Bryan
128 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.

 Image Great Western at Swindon Works, The
Alan S. Peck
Heathfield Railway Publications
US$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.

 Image In and Around Swindon Works
Peter Timms
Amberley Publishing
274 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.

 Image Steam Workshops of the Great Western Railway, The
Ken Gibbs
The History Press
208 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.

 Image Swindon Works Through Time
Peter Timms
Amberley Publishing
96 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.

 Image Swindon Works: Apprentice of Steam
Ken Gibbs
Amberley Publishing
224 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.

 Image Swindon Works the Legend
Rosa Matheson
The History Press
192 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.