Exhibition at Steam Museum looks at GWR’s race to become the world’s fastest railway

By Jamie Hill - 5 April 2019

AttractionsHeritage
  • A publicity shot from 1933 showing an unusually large team cleaning Whittington Castle, displaying the Cheltenham Flyer headboard.

    A publicity shot from 1933 showing an unusually large team cleaning Whittington Castle, displaying the Cheltenham Flyer headboard.

A brand new exhibition charting the Great Western Railway’s (GWR) drive to be the fastest railway in the world will launch at STEAM on Saturday (6 April).

  • King George V (when Prince of Wales) depicted as driving a World record breaking train. He was a passenger on the train, hauled by the City of Bath, which broke a World record between London and Plymouth in July 1903.

    King George V (when Prince of Wales) depicted as driving a World record breaking train. He was a passenger on the train, hauled by the City of Bath, which broke a World record between London and Plymouth in July 1903.

In May 1904, the Swindon-built City of Truro locomotive achieved a world record speed of 100mph. Speed was the fascination of the 20th Century and a speeding locomotive epitomised both prestige and glamour.

The GWR rebuilt, refined and remodelled locomotives focusing on strength, power and speed. By the 1920s and 1930s these express locomotives became iconic symbols of the GWR.

Entitled World’s Fastest, the new special exhibition at the Swindon Borough Council-owned museum explores how advances in design and technology have changed sinceCity of Truro became the first train to travel at 100mph 115 years ago.

Elaine Arthurs, Assistant Curator at STEAM, has created the new exhibition and said: “A collection of fascinating objects and archive material from the STEAM collection are used to illustrate this story, including the famous Cheltenham Flyer headboard.

“Visitors to STEAM will also get to test their knowledge of other World record breakers.”

This exhibition complements STEAM’s other special exhibition that opened earlier this year: Time on Trial, which takes a look at the exhilarating speed trials that took place between the GWR and other railway companies between 1910 and 1948. 

World’s Fastest is located in the special exhibition area, with the museum’s recreated 1930s Station Platform.

Admission to special exhibitions is included with STEAM admission and free to STEAM Season Ticket holders.

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

To find out more, visit the STEAM website: www.steam-museum.org.uk

Follow STEAM on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates.

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