GWR Workshops

After a busy Bank Holiday weekend I went back to one of my favourite museums, the STEAM museum in Swindon. I have visited twice before and enjoy the displays of railway life on the Great Western Railway (GWR) and the static locomotives that are there to look over.

This museum is housed in the old GWR workshops where they made the trains and other rolling stock. Unlike other steam heritage museums it takes you through the old offices, machine rooms and assembly areas, before the engines are rolled out on to the main line. This is accompanied by videos, oily smells, and the bangs and crashes of a busy workshop.They have a goods area which is piled with cases, representations of crated livestock, and vegetables, all ready to go to market. There is an open cab train driving simulator to play on. This shakes and moves while TV screens project a real view of a country route through the windows. I was able to control the train along a line and into a station.Every other Saturday is ‘Meet the Workers Day’ when people who used to work on the railway come and talk to the public about their jobs. In the signal box was a Signalman giving a talk about how to operate the signals and giving people the chance to have a go. There is a TV screen showing the position of the trains and the state of the signals and points. I was able to operate the signals to control a simulation of the Royal Train as it passed through a local station.In the station buildings there is a special exhibition about goods traffic in Wold War I. The railway in the war was requisitioned for taking guns, tanks, and troops to the ports, where the soldiers then would be put on boats and sent to the frontline. The railways worked very hard, with little investment, which took years to recover from after the war.Around the museum there are mannequins to give a sense of life as it would have been. There is Isambard Kingdom Brunel next to his Board Gauge Engine, children waiting for the evacuation train, a lady serving tea for the troupes, and other depictions.Every time I go I see something new and different.Click the photo of me to see some more pictures in the gallery.www.steam-museum.org.uk

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