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STEAM – Museum of the Great Western Railway

What will students see and do?

STEAM tells the story of the men and women who built, operated and travelled on the Great Western Railway. This network – through the pioneering vision and genius of Isambard Kingdom Brunel – set the standard for rail travel.

This story is brought to life with famous Great Western Railway (GWR) locomotives, imaginative story-telling displays, videos that mix rare archive film footage with the stories of ex-railway workers, hands-on exhibits, interactive displays and rare GWR memorabilia.

Visitors can step back through the story of Swindon Works, getting a sense of the heat and grime experienced in the foundry, then pass through the carriage body shop where the sights and sounds of the machine shop are evoked – lathes, drills and slotters were used to manufacture parts to the highest standards.

Visitors will complete 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.

STEAM’s 1930s station platform also conjures the vitality, excitement and glamour of travelling on the GWR. You’ll find iconic locomotives like King George V and City of Truro. To add to the glamour and further illustrate the opulence and elegance of GWR travel, there’s a 1934 buffet car and Queen Victoria’s royal saloon awaiting. Expect to hear train whistles, doors slamming and station announcements as you are transported back in time.

Additionally, located on the mezzanine floor is the Wall of Names, a memorial to the men and women who worked inside the Swindon Works. It is a permanent reminder of the human aspect of the story. From here, visitors can look out over the main Bristol railway line and watch the comings and goings of the modern railway network.



Teaching resources provided

STEAM has several resources for students on its website, including a 360-degree virtual tour of the museum that features exclusive content like original film footage, interactive games and quizzes; worksheets for the museum’s detective trails; and themed word searches, memory games, online jigsaw puzzles and colouring pages.

There is also a digital picture library with over 1,500 historic images relating to the Great Western Railway and the Western Region of British Railways. These images cover a wide range of subjects, such as industrial engineering, social history, country views and people, as well as locomotives, trains and rolling stock.


Minimum and maximum group size

Discovery sessions allow a maximum of 34 pupils – larger groups will be divided into smaller ones and will incur slightly higher costs.


Details of risk assessment

Detailed risk assessments and details on the venue’s safe systems of work are available to download from the website.

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Facilities On-Site

STEAM has a range of facilities including a café, a dedicated space for groups to eat packed lunches and plenty of toilets. Alternatively, there are many dining options at the nearby Swindon Designer Outlet.


Opening Times

Monday-Saturday: 10am-5pm
Sunday: 11am-4pm

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Pricing

Admission only: £5.50 per pupil
Single discovery session (one hour) and admission: £9.50 per pupil
Double discovery sessions (two hours) and admission: £13.50 per pupil

One adult goes free for every six Key Stage 1 students, ten Key Stage 2 students and 12 Key Stage 3+ students.


Travel arrangements

Located in the Rodbourne area of Swindon, STEAM is a 10-20 minute walk from Swindon town centre or Swindon train station. Regular bus services run through Swindon town centre and some stop within a short walk of STEAM.

The main and closest car parks for STEAM are the Swindon Designer Outlet North and West Car Parks, which are a five-minute walk from the museum. In them, there are six dedicated coach parking bays available at no cost for pre-booked groups.

Address

STEAM - Museum of the Great Western Railway, Fire Fly Avenue, Swindon
SN2 2EY


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Book your school trip to STEAM – Museum of the Great Western Railway

For information on booking your school trip to this venue, click below.

Book your school trip to STEAM – Museum of the Great Western Railway

For information on booking your school trip to this venue, click below.

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