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Library and Archive

Library and Archive

This offers the researcher a valuable source of reference for
the study of Great Western Railway history. Since the opening of the original GWR Museum in 1962, the research collection has steadily grown to include reference books, documents and ephemera, periodicals, postcards, photographs and plans.
The Library and Archive not only covers the growth of the GWR and the advance of railway technology, for the social historian it also contains material illustrating the impact of the GWR on the local community and the growth of Swindon as a Railway Town

Visiting the Library and Archive

The Library and Archive is open Monday to Friday 10.00am-4.00pm by appointment only. If you would like to visit please contact the Curatorial Department on 01793 466607/8 or e-mail (Visits to the Library and Archive are dependent on the availability of the Curatorial Team)  For remote enquiries please fill out the form on the Historical Enquires page.
All visitors must adhere to the terms and conditions prior to their appointment.  Full terms and conditons can be found by downloading the PDF below.

What We Have

Printed Books
The library contains over 3000 titles, and includes well-known works by recognised GWR historians, as well as lesser-known titles. The majority of these relate to the GWR, however we also hold a small collection of books concerning other Railway lines and companies as well as books on general railway history.

Our collection includes bound volumes of:
•Great Western Railway Magazine
•British Railways Magazine (Western Region)
•Railway Yearbook
•Railway Observer
•Journal of Institution of Locomotive Engineers
•The Railway Magazine Illustrated
•Railway Gazette.
We also hold a variety of unbound latter-day publications.

Bound Volumes

The bound volumes collection contains:

•A large series of Acts of Parliament Session books.
•A selection of GWR Board Reports dated between 1889 and 1923 and Sundry Orders 1939-1950.
•New Work Orders 1932-1964 - These describe work undertaken by Swindon works in a variety of fields from machinery to civil engineering
•Bound volumes of committee minutes including the Locomotive Committee, the Traffic Committee and others.
We hold primarily GWR and BR Western Region timetables as well as a series of Bradshaw’s Railway Manuals and Guides dating back to 1860.

Photographs and Postcards
The photograph collection amounts to approximately 10,000 images, as well as slides and a collection of 1,000 official GWR glass lantern slides. Subject areas depicted include Swindon Works, both manufacturing and architectural views, locomotives and rolling stock, local and social history. We also hold a large number of locomotive postcards.
To see our images online, visit

Drawings and Plans

This is a miscellaneous collection of material relating to Swindon Works, locomotives, carriages and wagons,

General Archive Material
Includes GWR paperwork, correspondence and official publications.

Specialist Collections
The Alan Peck Collection is a large collection of archive material, books, plans and photographs relating to the history and development of Swindon Works.
The Harry Collection is a relatively new collection containing early Swindon Works vehicles and rolling stock cost ledgers, staff registers, timetables, surveys, maps and over 40,000 photographs.
The Keith Frankling Collection contains material relating to carriage and wagon design and construction, including plans and other archive material.  Not yet catalogued.

What We Don’t Have
The official GWR company records and archives, which subsequently were part of British Rail, are now held at the National Achives at Kew.  These include Staff Records and Accident Reports.
The National Railway Museum at York has in its collections, GWR locomotive drawings and plans.

STEAM - Museum of the
Great Western Railway

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    • © Swindon Borough Council Civic Offices, Euclid Street, Swindon SN1 2JH