John Speller's Web Pages Swindon Works

John Speller's Web Pages - GWR Broad Gauge
Swindon Works
Swindon was the natural place for the Great Western Railway's central workshops, since it was more or less halfway between London and Bristol and was at the junction with the line to Cheltenham and Gloucester. The Directors authorized the the construction of Swindon Works on 25 February 1841, and it began operation on 2 January 1843, although it was another three years before the first locomotives built there began to emerge. A model village, New Swindon, was built for the workers, complete with shops and churches, a tecnhical institute and eventually a hospital. By 1850 the Works was producing fifty locomotives a year. In its heyday during the 1920s Swindon works was employing 14,000 people and building around 100 locomotives a week. At the time of nationalization this had fallen to 60 and by the mid 1950s it had fallen to 40. After 1962 new construction ceased and Swindon Works was only used for major repairs to locomotives, carriages and wagons. In 1986 the unthinkable happened and Swindon Works closed its doors. Some of the machines dated from the first opening of the Works in the 1840s and, now of course worked by electric motors, rather than the original system of overhead belts and pulleys driven by a stationary steam engine, but still in pristine condition. Incidentally, it was the custom to knock the belt off your machine at the end of the day this became known as "Knocking off time."
Early scenes of Swindon Works from the Illustrated Exhibitor, 1852
Fitting narrow gauge wheels to a "Jumbo" Class 0-4-4T "Convertible"
Lathe for machining Crank Axles
Converting a coach from broad to narrow gauge
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