Great Western Railway’s invention and innovation revealed in new exhibition

By Jamie Hill - 24 July 2019

AttractionsFamilyHeritage

A brand new exhibition exploring the inventions and ideas that shaped the Great Western Railway will launch at STEAM on Friday (26 July).

The railways were, and still are, a place of new ideas, designs and inventions. The Great Western Railway dared to be different and strove to be the best.

 

Spark of Genius is a special exhibition which celebrates the forward-thinking ideas of the GWR. The exhibition takes a look at eight individuals who have followed in the footsteps of Isambard Kingdom Brunel – the father of Great Western innovation.

 

Elaine Arthurs, Assistant Curator at STEAM has created the new exhibition and said: “We are delighted to launch our new exhibition at STEAM. Spark of Genius is a great opportunity to view a range of intriguing objects and archive material from the collection at STEAM.

 

“One of the highlights of the exhibition is the Severn Tunnel beam engine model. Beam engines were used to remove water from the Severn Tunnel at a rate of 20 million gallons a day, and were introduced by Thomas Walker after the tunnel flooded during construction. The beam engines helped save the project, and the tunnel remains an important link between England and Wales today.

 

“Visitors to the exhibition can also explore further with the Spark of Genius digital interactive point where you can try your hand at building the Severn Tunnel.”

 

Spark of Genius complements STEAM’s other special exhibitions that opened earlier this year: Time on Trial and World’s Fastest, which explore the GWR’s race to become the fastest railway in the world.

 

Councillor Dale Heenan, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member responsible for STEAM said: “If any parents want a fun, and informative, day out with their children then I would recommend that they visit the STEAM Spark of Genius display.

“One of my exhibition highlights is the story of Frank Marillier. During the First World War, he designed a way for 144 wounded soldiers to be transported back home by train, and for them to be carried straight from the train to a hospital without being transferred to stretchers.

“Spark of Genius explores a wide range of inventions that helped shape the Great Western Railway. From signalling, to locomotive design and from building tunnels to modernising stations.”

 

Admission to view Spark of Genius is included with the STEAM entrance fee and free to STEAM season ticket holders.

 

Visitors can take advantage of the museum’s great value Kids for a Quid promotion running over the summer holidays. Up to four children (aged 3 to 15 years) can visit STEAM for just £1 each when accompanied by a full-paying adult.

 

Tickets must be bought online to take up the offer or, alternatively, visitors can download the voucher from STEAM’s website.

 

STEAM is open Monday to Saturday between 10am and 5pm, and on Sundays from 11am until 4pm.

 

For admission prices and full details, please visit: www.steam-museum.org.uk

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