Thursday, 5 April 2012

Steam - Great Western Railway Museum at Swindon

While I was down in Wiltshire, I had an hour or so between meeting friends so I popped into the Great Western's railway museum in Swindon. I could easily have killed a couple of hours in there.

The Great Western Railway was founded in 1833 and had its first trains running in 1938. It linked London with the South West and West of England and was engineered by Isambard Kingdom Brunel. It made many of it engines at it's workshops in Swindon, which is where the museum and a shopping outlet are now to be found. This engine, the Hinton Manor, has found it's way out of the museum into the shopping centre.

Apart from engines, the museum shows much about the factory that made them, right down to offices and the stores.

They had a foundry on the site where many of the metal parts were cast.

This exhibit shows the boiler shop. During the war they had women in doing the jobs that had previously been done by men.

The production of carriages

Here's Isambard himself.

This replica of the North Star was built in 1923 after the original had been scrapped in 1906. Built originally in 1837 for the New Orleans and Carrolltown railway by Robert Stevenson and Company it was bought by GWR when the American venture failed.

This is the Caerphilly Castle, the first of 171 Castle class engines to be built between 1923 and 1950 of which on 8 survive today. It cost £5565 pound when it was built which is the equivalent of £100000 in todays money.

 Weighing 160 tons, she would burn 3 tons of coal between London and Swindon. When she was taken out of service in 1960 she was thought to have done over a million miles.

You don't realise how big some engines are till you stand next to one.

This particular engine is something of a celebrity, having been exhibited at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembly in 1924 and was taken to the science museum in London in 1961 after she retired. 

My thanks to Views of Wells for letting me use this picture which shows the Caerphilly castle being transported to the museum by road in 1961. There's a 10 minute film about the move to be seen here.

Not so impressive but just as important, a Dean Goods Locomotive.

For much of it's history, transfers to and from the train would be by horse and cart.

This is the Ditcheat Manor. She can be seen in action in 2005 here.

This coach is one from a train used by Queen Victoria.

It might not be at it's plushest now.....

.........but back in the day it was rather swanky.

This is the Streamlined Diesel Railcar No 4 - it is one of 38 first brought into service in 1934. It has a drivers cab at either end and came complete with a little buffet section. It was given the nickname the flying banana.

 It looks like a golf buggy but I'm sure your local golf course would be dismayed to see you driving this across it's fairways. It's actually a track inspection vehicle.

This is the Lode Star.

Here I am where every small boy wants to be at some point in their lives.

Journey's end and a little end of pier entertainment.


Sinbad and I on the Loose said...

Oh I could spend hours there also. Thanks for the tour.

John "By Stargoose And Hanglands" said...

Swindon has just made a surprise entry into my list of places to visit! Grand pictures.

Shundo said...

You can add this small boy to that list... the engines all look so elegant - except perhaps for the Flying Banana - and made on site as well. Without getting all rose-tinted about it, it is tempting to say those were the days...
I understand that Queen Victoria was something of an early adopter when it came to trains, and the fact that she was happy to use them made them much more acceptable to the general public than they might have been otherwise.

The Glebe Blog said...

This is a grand post Sandy, I love railway museums. A visit to York some years ago was unfortunately cut short and I've never been to the one in Swindon.
I remember seeing one of Stephenson's pre 'Rocket' trains in North Shields many moons ago.
Didcot, Bo'ness and Middleton are others I remember visiting

Ellie said...

These old trains are fascinating aren't they?
A couple of years ago we visited a museum dedicated to Dad's Army - do you remember that program? It had lots of old trains.

Bengts fotoblogg said...

Very fascinating photos, great post.

Sandy's witterings said...

I'm back after having rather limited web access for a few days - I shall be having a round of your blogs tomorrow to see what I've missed.

The two Johns first - thank you very much.
I remember I wrote a blog some time ago (in another place before MSN decided another place wasn't a good idea) looking for interesting things in Swindon - I managed but not it should be said with great ease. This museum more than makes up for it and it's quite near Avebury, Wootton Bassett (royal now) and lots of other Wiltshire delights. (beer's good there too)

Shundo, It seems to me that Queen Victoria, being rather popular, almost guarenteed success for anything she took to.

Jim. I'm often not far from Bo'ness - maybe I should get myself across there sometimes. Since you mention preRocket trains (and I suspect most folk think it's the first) this would be a good time for me to plug a previous blog featuring a train which predates it by 16 years.

Ellie - I though for a minute I was attracting a completely male audience. Who doesn't remember Dad's Army - I hope our friends from across the pond get it from time to time too.

Bengts - welcome and thank you for posting.