Discover how the GWR become known as God’s Wonderful Railway. A must see for all railway enthusiasts and non-railway enthusiasts alike, located on the site of the world-famous railway works. The museum houses a fantastic collection of some of the greatest steam locomotives ever built. There is plenty for all ages to see and do at this South West Business & Community Leisure & Tourism Award winner.
STEAM – Museum of the Great Western Railway tells the story of the men and women who built, operated and travelled on the Great Western Railway, a network that, through the pioneering vision and genius of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, set the standard for rail travel.
This story is brought to life with famous GWR locomotives, imaginative story-telling displays, videos – mixing rare archive film footage with the stories of ex-railway workers – hands-on exhibits, interactive displays and a large number of rare GWR objects memorabilia.
Visitors are taken into the world of the railway worker at Swindon, passing through a series of reconstructions, carefully assembled using original equipment, supported by video and interactive displays.
The STEAM experience starts with the hushed tones of The Offices where – in the GWR’s heyday before the First World War – clerks toiled to support the workforce of over 12,000. This is followed by the General Stores – an ‘Empire within an Empire’ – which kept Swindon and the GWR supplied with everything from pen nibs to railway sleepers.
As the story unfolds, visitors begin to grasp the scale of the operation needed to build and maintain the railway. At its height, the Swindon Works was producing three locomotives each week.
Moving through to the recreated Swindon Works, visitors will get a sense of the heat and grime experienced in the Foundry. Then, passing through the Carriage Body Shop – with its evocative smell of wood – the sights and sounds of the Machine Shop are evoked. Lathes, drills and slotters were used to manufacture parts to the highest standards. Visitors complete this part of their journey in the Boiler Shop – where the noise endured by the workers meant that many were deaf by the age of 30 – and the Erecting Shop.
Get close to iconic GWR locomotives like King Class 4-6-0 No 6000 King George V, 2800 Class 2-8-0 No 2818, City Class 4-4-0 No 3717 City of Truro, Castle Class 4-6-0 No 4073 Caerphilly Castle, Replica of broad gauge engine North Star, 2301 Class 0-6-0 No 2516 Dean Goods, 9400 Class 0-6-0T No 9400 Pannier Tank, 4200 Class 2-8-0T 4248 (skeleton only).
There is plenty for all of the family to get involved with at STEAM: change the signals in the authentic GWR Signal box, be an engine driver as you step aboard a steam train simulator and even operate model railway layouts.
If arriving by car, from the M4, take junction 16. For all directions, follow the brown tourist signs for ‘Designer Outlet’ or the ‘M’ for museum signs (towards the town centre and Rodbourne).
You can get FREE PARKING with STEAM standard admission. You need to get a ticket from the Swindon Designer Outlet North or West Car Park and you can then later exchange it at the Designer Outlet Information Desk for a free parking pass after visiting STEAM. You will need to show your valid STEAM ticket for that day.
Swindon is on the London Paddington to Bristol line. Turn right outside the Railway Station and follow the pedestrian path until you come to the GWR tunnel (on the right) which is signposted to STEAM. Your route will pass English Heritage and residential apartments, soon leading to STEAM.
STEAM – Museum of the Great Western Railway
Fire Fly Avenue (off Kemble Drive)
Swindon SN2 2EY
Adult (16+ years) Day £11.30 Season £22.60
Child (3-15, must be accompanied by an adult) £8.40
Under 3s Free
For concessions and Family Tickets see steam-museum.org.uk/visit/ticket-information
Monday to Saturday 10am-5pm (last entry 4pm)