Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Curatorial Corner - 27th April 2011

Loaned print of Maidenhead Bridge
 The Railway meets the River

The Curatorial Department took a visit to the River and Rowing Museum at Henley on Thames yesterday.  What has a museum like this got to do with the Great Western Railway?  More than you think!

Last year we were contacted by the team at Henley who were in the process of putting together a new exhibition on the Victorian's growing interest in the Thames as a holiday and tourist destination.  The Great Western Railway served Henley, as well as other places along this famous river.  Before the coming of the railway it could take 5 hours to reach Henley by stagecoach, but the building of the GWR allowed ordinary people the chance to travel to new destinations in a much shorter time.  The Thames at places like Henley, Windsor, Marlow and Pangbourne was a lot more idylic and cleaner than it was in the capital, London.  During the 19th Century the Thames in London was a busy shipping port and extremely dirty.  It wasn't a tourist destination like it is today.

Picnic basket, truncheon and other
loaned objects

The exhibition, Escaping the City - The Victorian on the Thames, borrowed objects and archive material from the collection at STEAM to help illustrate the railway's involvement in tourism on the Thames.  It was great to see our objects in a different environment!  Some of the items on show were a GWR picnic basket and tea pot.  These would have been purchased at one of the major stations, like Paddington, and filled with lots of goodies to keep day trippers happy as they lounged on the banks of the Thames, or took a ride on a river boat.  We also loaned a GWR Policeman's truncheon.  The railway police had a presence at the Henley Regatta and ensured people got to and from the station without incident.

The Curatorial Department had a great time at the River and Rowing Museum and enjoyed seeing STEAM's objects displayed in such a fascinating exhibition.  Escaping the City closes on Monday 2nd May 2011.

River and Rowing Museum website -

Escaping the City exhibition

Collections Officer, Elaine, by the Sydney
Olympic's winning GB coxless four boat

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Events Diary - Railway Festival Update

Swindon Railway Festival 10th - 11th September 2011

Ian Surtees, Commercial Manager, gives an update on the forthcoming Railway Festival.

Layouts at the 2010 Railway Festival

The planning for this year’s Swindon Railway Festival is already gathering pace, and I can confirm 12 of the country’s finest GWR and BR (W) layouts will be attending this year’s show on 10th and 11th September sponsored by the Hornby Magazine. The Swindon Railway Festival brings together the country’s best layouts, demonstrators and traders – with nine of this year’s layouts making their first time appearance at Swindon! In addition to the fabulous model railway layouts will be impressive displays from model giants Hornby and Bachmann and celebrity modeller, pop music legend and Museum Patron Pete Waterman OBE will be at the show.

2011 marks the 25th anniversary of the Swindon Railway Works closure and we’ll be paying tribute to the men and women who worked ‘inside’ at the famous Swindon Works which now houses the stunning Museum collection. We are currently working on assembling some poignant photographic displays for the show that will showcase the Swindon Works both in its heyday and during its sad decline in the mid 1980s.

And if that’s not enough, we are planning a ‘live steam and real ale’ arena outside the Museum’s recently refurbished Great Western Hall, comprising of traction engines and road rollers courtesy of Hatch Steam Heritage, extremely rare Stanley Steam Cars courtesy of the Steam Car Club of Great Britain and an outdoor bar selling the Museum’s fine range of real ales courtesy of Box Steam Brewery.

Prices for this year’s show will be held at the 2010 rates, but following demand we’ll be issuing weekender tickets for visitors wishing to join us for the whole weekend.

Admission: £8.50 for adults; Seniors and Concessions £5.50; Family tickets £24.00 (two adults, two children) and £27.00 (two adults, three children), Weekender Tickets: Adults £12.00, Seniors and Concessions £8.50. Under three go free. Swindon Card discounts available

Confirmed Layouts 

East Wheal Dream
Knockley Gate
Dainton Bank
Test Track (to showcase models)

Mythur Riverside
Llanryglyn – Cambrian period railway
Oldbury Junction
West Cliff
S Scale
Aston Magna

2mm Fine Scale
Highbury Colliery