Saturday, June 25, 2016

Saturday 25 June - Great Western Railway Museum Swindon

Today, for me, was a day of pure nostalgia.  I took an HST to Swindon.  The train was bound for Cheltenham and was not very full so I could enjoy the run down the Thames Valley.  The forecast was for unsettled weather and we ran through two heavy showers in the 59 minute journey.  Although I have been through Swindon many times and changed trains there, the last time I set foot outside the station was on Friday 29 June 1962 when I took a medical and litteracy test, as well as visiting the museum.

Since then the museum has changed enormously.  It is in one of the surviving works buildings but it now demonstrates that Swindon works produced everything for the railway and, in effect, created the town.  Everything is complete and the artifacts are brought to life by a series of well built figures in appropriate clothing. Many locations had short videos which explained and amplified.  These used old footage with interviews from people who had gone through the mill, also some wives explained how they brought up families under such work practices.  Perhaps the most poignant comment was from a fireman talking about the change from steam to diesel, "I had an apprenticeship of eighteen years to work up to a driver only to find I had no job qualifications for other work".   There were a number of volunteers who were only too pleased to chat about the various jobs.

Pictures can do a better job than I at describing the visit.
Taking a break
Women played an important role during the war
Beautiful Caerphilly Castle
Broad Gauge Replica
This was true in my day as a trainee when I was told by management not to get married because I should devote all my time to the railway.  I ignored this instruction and ultimately resigned.
Unloading freight.

The copper capped double chimney on King George V - No. 6000

The bell on King George V
I actually polished this bell

City of Truro, No. 3717.  In the 60s it was restored and put into regular service at Didcot.

7821, a Manor.  They did wonders on the Cambrian Coast line but they had a small firebox.  We had a couple at Reading.
The name and number plate from the last Castle built.
I rode and fired this locomotive and these plates brought back many memories:

The museum is extremely well conceived and set out and I thoroughly enjoyed the visit.

Back at the station the next train to London, Paddington was the return working from Cheltenham which, again, was not full and I enjoyed a pleasant return to town.

While I was wallowing in nostalgia Mary visited the Victoria and Albert museum and went to an afternoon movie.

For dinner this evening we went back to the Hereford Arms where the salmon and the Bressingham duck breast were very well cooked and prepared.

Click here to see all pictures taken at the Swindon museum

1 comment:

  1. Hello Colin,

    What an amazing collection in the museum. I particularly enjoyed the many vignettes of railroad employees going about their daily work. Indeed, our lovely women played an important role in the running of the system as well. Looking forward to having you back in Nelson Yard!
    All the best,