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.