Presenter: Brian Arman, RCTS President
To complete our summer programme of meetings we welcomed Society President Brian Arman who gave us the second part of his presentation on “Swindon Works 1880-1922, The Golden Years”.
We started today when Swindon was chosen as the site for the GWR carriage works, after it was deemed that the original chosen site in Oxford was too small, this was to be on the opposite side of the main line to the existing loco works. The first coaches produced there were in 1868.,We also heard a little about the life of Chief Engineer William Dean, a sad story as both his wife and son predeceased him.
We proceeded onto to the Armstrong erecting shop with possibly 12 broad gauge locos under construction at the same time in 1873, these new erecting shops at Swindon were very tall, light and airy, Swindon was also one of few works that had its own brass foundry and finishing shops.
Brian also spoke about the responsibility the GWR showed for its workers, having a hospital and doctors’ surgery on site, possibly becoming a model for the origins of the NHS.
At the end of Broad Gauge in 1892. many coaches and locos were converted to standard gauge (240 approx only 70 engines were scrapped.
Some fascinating stories and facts emerged. It was amazing just how much information, dates etc. that Brian has and the detail he is able to impart to us without any notes using just the slides as prompts. All of Brian’s slides were historic and conveyed a very real insight into the works and its facilities at that time. At this point we had also a small look at Swindon town centre and the surrounding countryside.
A superb history lesson for everyone.