Look out for a procession of traction engines on the streets of the town ahead of this weekend’s Swindon Railway Festival at Steam Museum (see details below).
As part of the Swindon 175 celebrations, eight engines with local connections will be brought together to be viewed by visitors to the festival on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 September.
Before the show, they will be ‘stabled’ overnight at Lotmead Farm, Wanborough, before making the last leg of their journeys to the museum under their own steam. Four will leave Wanborough at about 1pm on Friday 9 September and travel along Merlin Way, Covingham Drive and Dorcan Way to the Greenbridge roundabout, then Drakes Way, Ocotal Way and under the Transfer Bridges, and finally on to Great Western Way and Kemble Drive.
At the same time, a fifth engine will make its way to Steam by a different route, beginning in Highworth Road.
Two others will arrive on Saturday morning, leaving Lotmead Farm at about 8.30am.
The engines, which have a combined age of more than 700 years, include several that were owned by showmen R Edwards & Sons and Rushey Platt timber merchants EJ Barnes, while others are owned locally, including one by Colin Hatch, who has organised this part of the festival.
Colin also built the replica railway works hooter, which was unveiled earlier this year, and he will be blowing it hourly over the weekend, the traction engines taking turns to supply the steam.
He said: “We provide a road steam element to the railway festival every year, and this year we decided to put together something special for Swindon 175.
“We are calling it a ‘reunion’ of engines with Swindon connections, but actually it is the first time they have been together in one place.”
The event will also see displays by Colin’s firm, Hatch Heritage Steam Engineers, Swindon Heritage, the Swindon Society and Frank Edwards, a member of the showmen family, who will also be bringing the firm’s Scammell lorries to the event.
Meanwhile, Colin has appealed for anyone with connections to Edwards, Barnes and Hills or any other road steam in the Swindon area to come along on Saturday and Sunday and share their knowledge and stories.
For more information about the festival, see www.steam-museum.org.uk.
Pictured top and below, courtesy of Carl Brown, the 101-year-old Earl Kitchener, one of the engines featuring in this weekend’s Swindon Railway Festival at STEAM. Originally owned by Edwin Hills & Sons, it was bought by R Edwards & Sons in 1923.
Full steam ahead for Swindon Railway Festival
Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 September, 10am – 5pm
At this year’s Swindon Railway Festival, families and rail enthusiasts will celebrate the 175th anniversary of the birth of Swindon as a railway town.
As well as some of the UK’s finest ever model railway layouts, STEAM – Museum of the Great Western Railway, will host its biggest live steam display, courtesy of Hatch Heritage & Steam Engineers.
Visitors will get to see a whole range of traction engines as well as being treated to a demonstration from the replica Swindon Works hooter, which was created by Colin Hatch for Swindon175.
Swindon175 is a year-long programme of events which has been organised to celebrate the town’s railway heritage. On 25 February 1841, GWR directors authorised the establishment of the railway works in Swindon, after the town was identified by Daniel Gooch as being the ideal place for GWR’s central repair works.
As a result, this year’s festival, which is sponsored by Railway Modeller, is set to be the biggest and best show yet. All model railway layouts, demonstrations and trade stands at the festival are displayed throughout the museum so visitors will get to enjoy STEAM’s permanent exhibitions too.
Among refreshed displays and the new exhibition ‘Daniel Gooch: Life and Legacy’, visitors will discover the museum’s superb collection of legendary GWR locomotives including No. 6000 King George V, No. 3717 City of Truro and No. 4073 Caerphilly Castle, which are on loan from the National Railway Museum.
Top music producer, author and keen railway enthusiast Pete Waterman will once again be exhibiting his Just Like the Real Thing models as well as signing copies of his railway books.
There will be a variety of modelling demonstrations and these will run throughout the weekend – from locomotive and wagon construction to signalling, soldering and weathering. On the Saturday, there will also be a special programme of Railway Festival talks.
Trade stands will be stocked with plenty of bargains too – from model railway kits and accessories, to railway art, books and memorabilia.
A real ale bar and a barbecue will be at the festival on both days for refreshments, alongside STEAM’s own Platform One Café.
The festival opens at STEAM Museum on Saturday and Sunday at 10am and will be open until 5pm.
More details can be found on the STEAM website at www.steam-museum.or.uk or you can call the museum on 01793 466646.