Artifact from locomotive named Swindon by future queen comes home
A rare GWR item, with royal connections, returned to its Swindon home during the Queen’s Jubilee year, and is available to view after restoration. The sought-after historic piece is one of a pair of ‘splashers’ that originally took pride of place above the great wheels of the famous GWR Castle Class locomotive No. 7037 ‘Swindon’.
A splasher is positioned over a locomotive’s wheel as a guard to protect it. Spotted at a Railwayana auction by staff at STEAM – Museum of the Great Western Railway, the splasher was acquired by the museum using money donated by members of the public to the museum’s acquisition fund.
STEAM Curator, Felicity Jones said: “We were particularly excited to see this splasher become available at auction because we were not aware that it even still existed.”
Built in Swindon works in August 1950 under the umbrella of British Railways, No. 7037 ‘Swindon’ was the last in the line of GWR’s famous Castle Class express passenger locomotives.
The loco underwent special treatment when it was named at an official naming ceremony on 15 November 1950 at Swindon Works, carried out by HRH Princess Elizabeth, as she then was, on the Queen’s first visit to Swindon.
Members of the ‘Tuesday Gang’ at STEAM – former train drivers and firemen who volunteer to help clean and maintain the exhibits around the Museum – marrying the Swindon nameplate No. 7037 with the splasher after many years of separation. Photo: Richard Wintle www.calyxpix.com
The ceremony, pictured below, took place to mark Swindon Borough’s own Jubilee 62 years ago.
The ‘Swindon’ locomotive was also given the unique honour of being the only engine to have splashers decorated with the Swindon coat of arms. This distinction made the splasher a ‘must have’ acquisition for STEAM, particularly as the museum already holds both of the ‘Swindon’ locomotive nameplates.
“We are thrilled to be uniting the splasher with one of the ‘Swindon’ nameplates, after all these years apart,” continued Felicity. “Given its royal connections, it was especially significant to bring the splasher back to its Swindon home during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee year.
“It is through the kind donations by our visitors – as well as fundraising projects – for the STEAM Acquisition Fund, that we are able to secure historically important items like this for the STEAM Collection.”
Cllr Garry Perkins, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Culture, said: “It’s pleasing to see items of high historical significance being acquired by the museum as the result of visitor donations to STEAM’s Acquisition Fund."
See more details about the STEAM Collection and the museum’s special events at www.steam-museum.org.uk or call STEAM on (01793) 466637.
See how Pathe News covered the future queen unveiling ‘Swindon’
There’s a wonderful film of Princess Elizabeth in 1950, including shots down Regent Street lined with Swindon people, scouts and girl guides and servicemen, ending with shots of the unveiling of Swindon before she’s taken on a short trip, standing in the drivers cab.