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Museum of the Great Western Railway facts for kids

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Museum of the Great Western Railway
Picture of railway steam engine
Brunel and North Star
Established 2000 (2000)
Type Industrial museum
Key holdings Locomotives of the GWR
Public transit access Swindon railway station

STEAM – Museum of the Great Western Railway, also known as Swindon Steam Railway Museum, is located at the site of the old railway works in Swindon, EnglandWiltshire's 'railway town'. The museum opened in 2000 and replaced the former GWR Museum, which was located on Faringdon Road in Swindon, which had opened on 22 June 1962.

Apart from the museum itself, the site has become home to the McArthurGlen Designer Outlet and, since 2005, the Head Office of the National Trust.

The site

King George V pulling the Bristolian
King George V with Bristolian headboard
Ballast wagon
Ballast wagon
Platform scene
Platform scene

The museum is housed in a restored Grade II listed railway building. This was part of the old Swindon Works of the Great Western Railway, which was one of the largest in the world and operated from 1843 to 1986. In its heyday, it covered more than 300 acres (120 ha), and could turn out three locomotives per week.

The museum

Apart from many exhibits of interest to railway engine and rolling stock enthusiasts, it tells the social story of the railway community in Swindon, with recorded personal experiences and film archives. Lifelike exhibits show people at work and human interactions. There are exhibits explaining the construction of locomotives, of railway equipment and of the railways themselves. It also tells the history of the Great Western Railway and the life of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the famous Victorian engineer, who masterminded the Great Western Railway. There are many hands-on exhibits and interactive displays. Enthusiastic ex-railway workers are on hand, to give a personal insight into many of the exhibits.

There is a series of reconstructions of areas of work, such as office, stores, workshop, signal box and foundry.

The museum holds a massive archive of books, periodicals, photographs, drawings and plans, relating to the Great Western Railway.


The museum is near Swindon's town centre, adjacent to the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet Village. It is located at Ordnance Survey mapping six-figure .

The original museum

The 1962 Great Western Museum, Swindon had five locomotives on display, North Star, 3717 City of Truro, 4003 Lode Star, Dean Goods 2516 and pannier tank 9400 in the Churchward Gallery. In addition it had a selection of nameplates and some models and ephemera. Two rooms were dedicated to Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Daniel Gooch respectively.


North Star photograph
North Star

The museum is home to several GWR pre-nationalization-era locomotives, two of which are the first members of their respective classes. The majority of these are part of the UK National Collection.

  • GWR Star Class North Star – a replica of an early 7 ft 14 in (2,140 mm) broad gauge locomotive. Part of the National Collection
  • GWR 2301 Class 2516 – Built in 1897 part of the National Collection
  • GWR 2800 Class 2818 – Built in 1905 and previously a part of the National Collection. In 2017 the locomotive was deaccessioned from the National Collection and ownership was transferred to the STEAM Museum.
  • GWR 3700 Class 3717 City of Truro Built in 1903 on static display, famed for allegedly setting a speed of 102.4 mph on Wellington Bank in 1904. On loan from the National Railway Museum and arrived alongside 6000 King George V as a replacement for 4003 Lode Star & The GWR Railcar.
  • GWR 4073 Class 4073 Caerphilly Castle – Built in 1923 on static display, part of the National Collection
  • GWR 4200 Class 4248 – Built in 1916 on static display, largely dismantled to look like a locomotive in the works.
  • GWR 6000 Class 6000 King George V - Built in 1927 on static display, arrived alongside 3717 City of Truro. On loan from the National Railway Museum as a replacement for 4003 Lode Star & The GWR Railcar.
  • GWR 7800 Class 7821 Ditcheat Manor - Built in 1950, now relocated to the nearby Swindon Designer Outlet
  • GWR 9400 Class 9400 – Built in 1947 part of the National Collection
  • Agecroft No 3 - 0-4-0ST locomotive built by Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns in 1951 (works number 7681) - located outside the Old Swindon Works 20 Shop

The museum also displays a small collection of Great Western rolling stock and equipment, including:


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