STEAM - Museum of the Great Western Railway

STEAM - Museum of the Great Western Railway, Swindon: Hours, Address, STEAM - Museum of the Great Western Railway Reviews: 4.5/5

STEAM - Museum of the Great Western Railway

STEAM - Museum of the Great Western Railway
4.5
Speciality Museums • Historic Sites • History Museums
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10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Tuesday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Wednesday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Thursday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Friday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Sunday
11:00 AM - 4:00 PM
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About
Get up close to magnificent locomotives, try out the interactive GWR Signal Box and drive the steam train simulator as you travel through our story-telling displays! STEAM tells the story of the men and women who built, operated and travelled on the Great Western Railway - a railway network that, through the pioneering vision and genius of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, was regarded as the most advanced in the world. Our museum is housed in a beautifully restored Grade II railway building in the heart of the former Swindon railway works.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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4.5
1,556 reviews
Excellent
1,038
Very good
429
Average
64
Poor
15
Terrible
10

Nick Robinson
London, UK17 contributions
Feb 2022 • Family
I’ve always felt what makes a good museum is not always the quality of the exhibits, but the way they are presented and their ability to tell a story.

This museum has both. It’s beautifully presented, well looked after and tells the story of the railway works and GWR from a really human perspective; there’s lots of focus on the workers who plied their skills here, not just the technical aspects of the trains.

There is plenty here to keep children interested including different treasure hunts based on age and interactive displays. My 11 yr old train mad boy loved it. I’d recommend to anyone with an interest in the history of railways.
Written February 27, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Mark B
Newport, UK464 contributions
Mar 2022
My wife and I have a link to the railways, her father and grandfather worked for GWR and my grandfather for LNER. we have wanted to visit here for a long time.
The museum is housed in one of the old 'sheds' on the site of Swindon works in fact this is one of the first things you see when you enter the museum the size of the works was amazing.
You follow the history of the works and how locomotives and carriages were made, from the foundry to the finished train, plus history of the GWR.
Even if you have little or no interest in trains or the GWR I'm sure you will still find things to pique your curiosity.
We took about 3 hours to walk round but we were really following and reading all the information available.
The work under a steam train was incredible.
This would have been five star review but the café/restaurant is still not open after covid. However, there are cafes in the retail outlet which is nearby.
Written April 3, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

BudgetSeekerTom
Cirencester, UK1 contribution
Feb 2020
We enjoyed our visit at half term. The trains on displays are static and it is a real shame there is no link to a running line. But a track and rides are available at the nearby Swindon and Cricklade railway. It is a museum after all and good to be out of the rain. Our children aged 7 and 11 enjoyed looking at the trains and had a go on the old fashioned but working train simulator. The staff at the desk were very friendly but did not seem very knowledgeable and we didn't see any staff in the exhibition area to ask questions. When we visited a year ago we were greeted by volunteers with real experience of working with trains which was very interesting. We found out the volunteers meet visitors once a fortnight on Saturdays so would recommend a visit then if you like to ask questions about the exhibitions. The museum would definitely appeal to train fans and the displays give basic information and history about them. It took us just over an hour to look around. As a family, it was quite expensive but a very good indoor attraction and the designer outlet shops and eateries are close by.
Written February 26, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Aysia Stephens
Bristol, UK48 contributions
Jun 2021 • Family
Was a good experience 😊

Very informative and great features.
Took approx 1hour to get through.

I think admission fees are a bit pricey for the size of the museum, but that’s just my opinion.

You park in the outlets car park and walk your way (not far at all) to the museum.

Will visit again but probably when there are deals on!
Written July 22, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Linders83
Salford, UK23 contributions
Dec 2021
I was really impressed. The museum is set out beautifully and tells the story not just of the GWR but also about the growth of Swindon as a railway town. There isn't the sheer volume of exhibits that (say) the National Railway Museum has, but what they do have, they've presented beautifully - and to the point where even someone with limited interest in railways should be able to enjoy the story for an hour or so.
Written December 7, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Sean
London, UK10 contributions
Jan 2022 • Couples
This is a truly outstanding museum and we enjoyed it more than the National Railway Museum, even though it has about 75% less locomotives and rolling stock. What it does so brilliantly is tell the story of the Swindon works & the Great Western Railway and most importantly the people who worked there, at one point the workforce was 14,000 strong.

Fantastic displays showing how just about everything that ran on or was used on the GWR from the most complex steam express trains to the simplest bolt or broom was built in Swindon, and relays the experiences and working conditions of the workers from the humblest cleaner to the chief engineer.

There are also displays showing recreated offices, stores, foundry, machine shop, carriage works etc etc before you then see a rescued Barry loco as if it is being built, then around a corner to see the truly magnificent Caerphilly Castle which is displayed beautifully, in a large space showing her off in all her glory.

There is also a recreated station, other hugely important locos like King George V and City of Truro and lots of fascinating information about hotels run by the GWR, their pioneering vertical management scheme encouraging ideas which were rewarded, works holidays to Cornwall and much much more besides.

It’s the best non national museum we have been to, the director of the National Railway Museum really needs to visit and up her and her teams game. I have a horrible feeling the 2025 revamp of the NRM is going to turn the place into a interactive theme park for bored school kids and utterly ruin the place.

A huge well done to all who are responsible for STEAM, the staff were superb too, one gentleman in the shop even getting us a brand new from the stockroom Brewer Bear that we pre-ordered to support the museum without us even having to ask.

Once you have visited this fabulous museum don’t forget to visit the shopping mall next door, it’s been sympathetically built in the former GWR Swindon loco works and it’s an architectural delight. There is a rather nice surprise of a railway variety sitting inside next to Costa Coffee too - we won’t spoil it, go and visit for yourself !
Written February 1, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Cherriesfan99
Cheltenham, UK502 contributions
May 2022
Well thought out museum, excellent layout, with so much to view, and equally to catch the imagination. The railway is the raison d'etre for this Wiltshire town, and the Steam Museum gives a full detailed explanation, and a vivid insight into the workings and associated dangers of the railway industry. The working conditions in previous generations were on the grim, and yet there seemed that the workforce had great pride in their production of locomotives and rolling stock. It is an excellent day out, well illustrated by two young boys captivated by "driving" the mock up of a steam engine.
Written May 27, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Cyril C
Armitage, UK148 contributions
Feb 2020
A very well laid out experience which takes you through the GWR story of how the railway, Its locomotives and rolling stock were built. Great provision for children along the way and these facilites were being well used and enjoyed. A signal box with an attendent who know the bussiness guided visitors on moving a train through a set of sigings. Great.
The cafe serves good food and drink at compeatives prices, the best pot of tea at an attraction which I've had in a long time.
One small critisism, It would be good to have someone around to explain how a steam loco works and explain what a driver does on the footplate.
Written February 2, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Gerry S
Herne Bay, UK213 contributions
Nov 2021
This was a fantastic place to visit. Not just a collection of bits and pieces and engines, but the story of steam, and the Great Western spelt out in displays, pictures and artefacts. Excellent use of models and artefacts coupled with sound to illustrate what life was like in all aspects of the great Swindon Railway works. Interactive things like a signal frame, the cab of a real steam loco, a pit to walk underneath a Castle class and see the bits normally hidden from view, Engines, a Scammel Scarab van, and a marvellous collection of old working pier head type slot machines. All in all a fantastic place, and well worth the entrance fee. The only thing lacking would be a real station buffet type eatery. A visit not to be missed.
Written November 6, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Paul L
Redruth, UK42 contributions
Feb 2022
I've not been here for a number of years so was looking forward to it, however... the place seems to have been dumbed down a bit, and has lost some of its original charactor. Exhibits were closed off still, and once inside (you have to book a time slot to go in to visit!) distancing etc sems to go out the window!

I felt more could have been made of the screens showing videos, and they were better positioned so your not having people walking in front of you whilst trying to view them.
My other main moan would be the gift shop. Very limited range and some items seemed very expensive for what they were. I think there is a serious missed opportunity here, why is there no refrence to the "railway village"? Swindon was built for the railway, yet it seems to be embarrassed by its past!
Written February 27, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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Frequently Asked Questions about STEAM - Museum of the Great Western Railway

STEAM - Museum of the Great Western Railway is open:
  • Sun - Sun 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM
  • Mon - Sat 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM


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