With the arrival of Swindon built locomotives King George V and the City of Truro at Steam, Museum of the Great Western Railway, in readiness to mark events in 2016 which will celebrate the beginnings of the town as an industrial powerhouse, the logo designed by Swindon based graphic designer Paul Gentleman tells the town’s story in six images.
Although the start on building the railway repair sheds commenced in 1841, the town is well known for building a great deal more than railway rolling stock. Paul has incorporated six historical cues which remind us that the town is famous for both the GWR and a great deal more. He explains:
The Swindon 175 logo has been designed to reflect the rich history the town has and its achievements and contribution to the country over the years. While the perception of others might not reflect the town’s place in history, it’s contribution to the country has been immense and the logo brings together some of the iconic images and stories to the fore.
The 7 images reflecting Swindon’s history include:
• Sir Daniel Gooch – Brunel’s right hand man in the building of the greatest railway in the world, the GWR. In September 1840 Daniel Gooch, Brunel’s Chief Superintendent of Locomotive Engines, wrote a letter to Brunel and the GWR board recommending Swindon as the site for the Engine Repair works. The board approved the recommendation and work began the following February. From this grew the greatest locomotive manufacturing plant the world had seen where at its height it could make three steam locomotives a week. Though care of its workforce they created the GWR Medical Fund, the Blueprint for today’s NHS, through education of its workforce it created the country’s first ever lending library and the men and women of the GWR were known to be the best educated manual workers in the country. Gooch’s decision and letter shaped the town we have today.
• City of Truro – the first steam locomotive to travel at 100 mph. This City Class locomotive epitomises the skill and innovation of the GWR works when they made the first ever steam locomotive to travel at 100mph.
• GWR works hooter – iconic for the people of Swindon, these were heard all over the town. Still in place today above the works, these called the men to work in the morning and let the women folk know when the working day was done. At the outbreak of WW1 they blasted 10 times to let the people of Swindon know that we were at war.
• The Spitfire and Hurricane – the town played its part in the war effort helping build both these world famous planes. As early as 1936 Swindon was looked at as the location for aircraft manufacture due to its good communication links and access to the highly skilled workforce of the GWR works. Parts of the Hurricane were made at the GWR works and Spitfire production was moved to Swindon and Castle Bromwich following the bombing of the Supermarine factory in Southampton.
• Garrard Turntable – at its height 4,500 worked making these record players which were exported all over the world. The company won the Queen’s Award for Industry three times and its factory covered half million square feet.
• The Mini – Swindon has been shaping the world famous car since the 1970s and is now a huge centre for car manufacture. The town’s Pressed Steel Fisher plant was established in 1954 and was a major employer in the town after the GWR works. As part of British Leyland it produced the body panels for a range of cars including Land Rover and of course the Mini.
The iconic car which was redesigned and relaunched by BMW in the early 2000s now represents how the town has become a major manufacturer of automobiles and the image of the car drives the logo, spreading the visual imagery into 2016 and beyond.
• Honda Civic – In 1979 Japanese manufacturer Honda teamed up with Rover Group to produce its first vehicle in Swindon and Honda of the UK Manufacturing Ltd (HUM) was established in Swindon in 1985, becoming a key employer in the town.
The HUM website makes the connection with the decision to build the GWR railway works in the town and answers the question, why Swindon? ‘Excellent people to begin with. A workforce that made Swindon the manufacturing centre of the Great Western Railway – and set the standard for excellence in engineering. There’s also an outstanding infrastructure and first-rate communications links, as well as the Greenfield site that was perfect for our use.’
Although some would like to think Swindon is an average town, we’re anything but! Keep up to date with the Swindon 175 celebrations