Doing Time Inside:
Apprenticeship and Training in GWR’s Swindon Works
by Rosa Matheson
Published 9th May
Chronicling the changes of the apprenticeship process from its earliest times during the Industrial Revolution through two world wars until the closure of the Works in 1986′
The Great Western Railway’s Swindon Works was the largest employer in the area, even during the early British Railway years. For well over a hundred years thousands of apprentices and trainees passed through its doors to learn the trades of the railways. Throughout its lifetime the apprenticeship process was hard work with many constraints, particularly in the early periods when even marriage was forbidden. However, alongside the hard work there were undoubtedly good times.
Today, apprenticeship is no longer part of the national psyche as it was in previous centuries. In the early nineteenth century, however, industrial Britain was on the rise and hungry to grow. Apprenticeship was a fundamental building block of the brave new industrial world, particularly the world of railways. The demand for skilled mechanics was insatiable. From its very beginnings to its final demise, apprenticeship was a continuous thread that shaped the identity of GWR’s and later BR’s Swindon Works.
An in-depth study of apprenticeship in the railway world.
Coach builders, carpenter, wheelwrights, tinsmiths, all had their place in Swindon Works’ apprenticeship story.
First-hand accounts of memories and reminiscences from workers over the years.
Illustrated with photographs and documents, many previously unpublished.
Dr Rosa Matheson is one of Swindon’s best-known railway author. A long-time enthusiast of Swindon Works, GWR and women’s railway history, she has a large collection of memorabilia and has written a number of books and articles on her pet topics. She is also active in presenting talks to the community. She has previously written TRIP: The Annual Holiday for GWR’s Swindon Works, and The Fair Sex: Women and the GWR for The History Press. She lives in Wiltshire.