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The STEAM Museum

Interactive exhibits that bring history to life
by James Crowe
The Bristolian Train

STEAM Museum of the Great Western Railway, a captivating journey through time that explores the rich history of one of Swindon’s most iconic institutions. The Great Western Railway holds immense historical significance in the region, and the STEAM Museum stands as a proud tribute to its legacy. So hop on board as we embark on a thrilling adventure to uncover the tales of steam, steel, and engineering marvels that have shaped the course of Swindon’s history.

The History of Great Western Railway

In the early 19th century, the Great Western Railway was born out of a vision to connect London with the port city of Bristol and further to South Wales. It was the brainchild of the legendary engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, who envisioned a broad gauge railway that would revolutionize transportation. The railway played a pivotal role in the industrial revolution, facilitating the movement of goods and people, and catalyzing the growth of Swindon as a bustling railway town.

The Great Western Railway was not just a means of transport, it was a symbol of engineering prowess. The iconic steam locomotives that traversed its tracks became legendary, with names like ‘The Iron Duke’ and ‘The City of Truro.’ The achievements of the railway, including the creation of the Box Tunnel and the Maidenhead Railway Bridge, were engineering marvels of their time.

Preserving the Past

The STEAM Museum came into existence with the aim of preserving and celebrating the illustrious history of the Great Western Railway. Located at the site of the old Swindon railway works, the museum itself is a piece of history. It offers a glimpse into the past, where the pounding of hammers and the churning of machinery once echoed.

The museum houses an impressive collection of exhibits and artefacts that chronicle the growth of the railway and the lives of the people who worked on it. Among the treasures is ‘Caerphilly Castle,’ a beautifully restored steam locomotive that serves as a symbol of the golden age of rail travel.

Interactive Exhibits and Engaging Experiences

One of the unique aspects of the STEAM Museum is its interactive exhibits that bring history to life. Visitors can climb aboard some of the meticulously restored locomotives and carriages, experiencing the sights and sounds of the past. The ‘Train Simulator’ allows enthusiasts of all ages to become virtual train drivers, feeling the thrill of controlling a powerful steam engine.

The museum is not only a treat for railway enthusiasts but also an educational wonderland. Young learners can engage with hands-on activities that explain the principles of engineering and mechanics in a fun and accessible way. The STEAM team ensures that the exhibits are informative, intriguing, and entertaining for visitors of all ages.

Community Involvement and Events

The STEAM Museum is deeply connected with the local community. It regularly collaborates with schools, historical societies, and railway enthusiasts to host special events and exhibitions. The ‘Heritage Railway Workshops’ are a hit among visitors as they get to witness skilled craftsmen preserving and restoring historic locomotives.

Additionally, the museum hosts workshops and activities that inspire creativity and curiosity in young minds. This community engagement not only fosters a sense of pride in Swindon’s heritage but also ensures that the legacy of the Great Western Railway continues to thrive.

Visitor Information

If you’re planning to embark on this historical adventure, the STEAM Museum welcomes you with open arms. The museum is conveniently located in the heart of Swindon, with ample parking facilities available. It operates from Tuesday to Sunday, and tickets can be purchased online by going to the STEAM Museum website or at the entrance.

For visitors with disabilities, the museum offers accessibility features, ensuring that everyone can enjoy the exhibits to the fullest. To make the most of your visit, consider joining one of the guided tours, where knowledgeable guides will lead you through the captivating stories of the railway.


As we conclude our journey through the STEAM Museum of the Great Western Railway, we are left with a profound appreciation for the railway’s historical significance. The museum stands as a beacon of preservation, celebrating the ingenuity and hard work that shaped Swindon’s past. Whether you are a history buff, a railway enthusiast, or a curious soul looking for a fascinating day out, the STEAM Museum promises an unforgettable experience that connects the past to the present.

So, come and immerse yourself in the world of steam and steel, where the legacy of the Great Western Railway continues to inspire and captivate generations. A trip to the STEAM Museum is not just a visit; it’s a memorable journey through time. All aboard!