Saturday, 15 June 2013

G.W.R., did it really stand for gas works railway? Yet another museum.

Swindon, home of the Great Western Railway, famous for Brunel's broad gauge. Today we visited what remains of the old works. Most of the buildings are gone but a section of the buildings have been converted to an upmarket retail outlet. Jill and daughter Cairstine headed off for the shops while son in law Ken and grandsons Noah and Jonah and yours truly took the intellectual route and perused the contents of "Steam", the GWR museum.

The great man himself, I.K. Brunel graciously posed with the boys next to the driving wheel from one of his broad gauge engines. I never knew he was only just over five foot tall.

Inside the museum there are reconstructions of the different workshops that made up the works. This is part of the foundry.

Top and bottom views of one of Collett's famous Castle Class express engine Caerphilly Castle, one of the engines used to haul the Cheltenham Flyer,

the fastest train in the world. That was average speed, not top speed, once averaging over eighty eight m.p.h. between Swindon and London, Paddington, a distance of seventy seven miles.

Going back in time, North Star, a broad gauge express engine. It's actually a replica, built in 1923 but using some parts from the original and once again

Mr Brunel was there.

More mundane artefacts are also on display. A Dean Goods 0-6-0 from the 19thC. and a Scammel mechanical horse from the 1950's.
The boys were impressed by the number of interactive exhibits, they both got certificates for working a signal box, moving a local train onto a siding to allow the royal train through and we had to drag them away from an engine footplate where they could drive a steam engine, complete with noise and vibration, they would have spent all day on it if we had let them.
We then rejoined the ladies for lunch in an exceedingly good Italian restaurant.
Jill had made the most of her time.
Tomorrow is Father's Day, we're off for a ruby for lunch, courtesy of Cairstine, so I doubt I will manage a post.

Watch this space.........

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