Hooter to sound at 21st Swindon Railway Festival

By Jamie Hill - 25 August 2023


The Swindon Railway Festival will be returning to the STEAM Museum on Saturday, 9 and Sunday, 10 September.

  • Mike Baker 'Newton Heath Works' 7mm scale layout

    Mike Baker 'Newton Heath Works' 7mm scale layout

This year’s festival includes 23 incredible model railway layouts that will be uniquely displayed alongside iconic Swindon-built locomotives. Three layouts are making their debut at the festival including the eagerly awaited new creation by Peter Boyce entitled ‘Farringdon’.

Sally Langheim, STEAM’s Events and Conferencing Officer, said: “This is the 21st Swindon Railway Festival we’ve held and it is one of STEAM’s biggest annual events. It’s a celebration of the Great Western Railway and features some of the UK’s finest model railway layouts.

“The layouts are built by some of the UK’s most experienced and expert model railway creators and three are brand new to the model railway circuit. One highlight I am particularly looking forward to seeing is the magnificent 3mm layout entitled ‘Foxbury’ by acclaimed modeller Bob Brown of an imagined market town in the Cotswolds portraying its branch line c1955.

“STEAM will also be selling its brand-new 00 gauge Western Enterprise D1000 model locomotive at the festival. Exclusive to STEAM, only 500 limited edition models will be available to purchase.”

On both days of the festival, smoky smells and evocative sounds will emanate from the front of the museum as Swindon firm Hatch Heritage & Steam Engineers display a selection of their vintage traction engines.

History will come to life when live steam is used to power the museum’s own replica of the famous Swindon Works Hooter. The hooter was sounded every day until the Works closed in March 1986 - to remind GWR employees and their Swindon families of the time. STEAM will be sounding the hooter every hour on the hour to bring back this ‘sound of Swindon’.

Councillor Marina Strinkovsky, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Art and Heritage, said: “If you are interested in trains and our town’s rich railway heritage, then the Swindon Railway Festival is definitely the event for you. The incredible model rail layouts at the Swindon Railway Festival will transport you back in time and the level of detail is fantastic giving an engaging glimpse of life in the past, of the trains as well as the surrounding areas.

“We will even have the Swindon hooter going off over the weekend to add a flavour of the rhythms of life in the Works. A huge amount of hard work by the exhibitors went into these model displays, so it’s not surprising that the railway festival is one of STEAM’s most popular events.”

On the Saturday, visitors will have access to the footplate of many of the locomotives on display, including GWR 4-6-0 King Class No. 6000 King George V*, GWR 4-6-0 Castle Class No 4073 Caerphilly Castle* and GWR 4-4-0 Class No. 3440 City of Truro.

More attractions at the show include trade stands selling model railway locomotives, kits and accessories, tools, plus railway books and gifts. A considerable number of local and national preserved heritage railway organisations will also have displays at the event.

Visitors to the event can observe fascinating modelling demonstrations throughout the weekend and chat to specialist modellers for tips and advice on loco and wagon building, soldering and weathering techniques.

Refreshments include hot meals and snacks along with a real ale bar in the festival’s outdoor enclosure. STEAM’s Platform One Café, upstairs at the front of the Museum, will also be open.

The event is also a great opportunity to view STEAM’s new exhibition for 2023 entitled ‘Great Women’s Railway’ which explores the important contribution which women made to Swindon Works and the GWR.

Family activities include the special children's interactive model railways, activity trails, and thought-provoking activities inside the museum.

Admission prices are: £14.50 for adults, £9.70 for children, and £11 for students and seniors. Under threes go free! Family tickets are also available.

STEAM Season Ticket holders receive 10 per cent off the event admission ticket price.

Doors open between 10am and 5pm on both days. Visitors are encouraged to book tickets in advance via the STEAM Museum website.

Tickets are on sale now: www.steam-museum.org.uk

For updates on the programme, follow STEAM on Facebook and Instagram (@SteamMuseum), or Twitter (@Steam_Museum).

*Currently on loan to STEAM from the National Railway Museum.

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