The coming of a new town by Ian Surtees, commercial manager at Steam, the Museum of the Great Western Railway
In 1835 Parliament approved the construction of a railway between London and Bristol. At the time the Great Western Railway’s chief engineer was Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
From 1836, Brunel bought locomotives from various makers for the new railway. Brunel’s general specifications gave the locomotive makers a free hand in design, although subject to certain constraints such as piston speed and axle load, the results were a diverse range of locomotives of mixed quality.
In 1837, Brunel recruited Daniel Gooch and gave him the job of rectifying the heavy repair burden of the GWR’s mixed bag of purchased locomotives. It soon became clear the GWR needed a central repair works and in 1840 Gooch identified a site close to the junction of the Cheltenham branch line, at the bottom of the hill close to the small town of Swindon. It was described as a ‘convenient division of the Great Western line for engine working.’
With Brunel’s support Gooch made his proposal to the GWR directors who, on 25th February 1841, authorised the establishment of the works at Swindon. Construction started immediately and a New Swindon was born.
Locomotives to return home as part of Swindon175 celebrations
Two flagship locomotives will make a timely return to Swindon as part of celebrations to mark the birth of the town’s railway works 175 years ago.
King George V and City of Truro are part of the world-class National Collection housed at the National Railway Museum. They will make the long journey by road on low loaders to Swindon from the York-based museum in November 2015.
The engines are on loan from the National Railway Museum and will arrive between 9 and 13 November to take pride of place at STEAM – Museum of the Great Western Railway in preparation for the town’s Swindon175 celebrations in 2016, which will honour Swindon’s railway heritage.
As well as the return of the two locomotives, Swindon175 will see a year-long programme of events next year throughout the town to commemorate the 175 year anniversary and details will appear soon on www.swindon175.com
King George V (KGV) was designed by Charles B Collet and was the GWR’s most powerful 4-6-0 engine. KGV was the first ‘King’ Class built at Swindon Works in June 1927, and was shipped to the United States in August 1927 to feature in the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s centenary celebrations.
Number 3440 City of Truro was designed by George Jackson Churchward and was built at the Swindon Works in 1903. She was the first British locomotive to travel in excess of 100 miles per hour (160.9 km/h) on 9 May 1904 and is one of the world’s first to do so.
New exhibitions at STEAM to mark the anniversary of New Swindon and the huge role Sir Daniel Gooch played in creating the works and the town will also be held throughout the year.