The archive collection contains over 5,000 individual, or groups of, historical documents and records relating to all aspects of the Great Western Railway and British Railways (Western Region). It is the largest and most diverse collection held at STEAM.
Included within the archive is a large selection of official company paperwork and documentation. This includes staff registers, accident reports, ledgers, board reports and traffic minutes. There is a good collection of around 200 timetables in various forms, including passenger and service timetables, along with a range of working timetables and appendices, dating from the early 1840s through to the 1990s. The archive collection also includes a lot of information relating to the GWR Medical Fund, Mechanics Institute, railway unions, pension and sick funds, Trip Week and GWR/BR sports and social associations.
In 1888 the Great Western Railway Magazine was introduced. The first issue was given the title Great Western Magazine and Temperance Union Record, a copy of which we hold in the archive collection. The magazine gave an insight into the workings of the railway and was available for staff and the general public to buy. One of the main functions of the magazine was to report the activities of the numerous GWR societies and clubs, as well as featuring staff changes, retirements and obituaries. The magazine also informed its readers of new developments and technical advances within the GWR. Its later articles on GWR history were also an interesting read. For today’s historian the magazine is an invaluable source of information and entertainment.
We hold an almost complete set of the GWR Magazines, which are available to view for research. Visit our Reference Library for more information.
This time book belonged to Sir Daniel Gooch in his early days working for the Great Western Railway. It dates between 1837 and 1838 and is one of the earliest items in STEAM’s collection. Gooch was employed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1837 as Superintendent of Locomotive Engines. He was just 21 years old.
The book details of names, occupations, wages and timekeeping of men working for Gooch at the GWR’s West Drayton engine house. One of the names mentioned in the book is Henry Appleby who went on to become the first Foreman of Swindon Works. Another name is Jim Hurst. He was the GWR’s first locomotive driver.
This book is an invaluable source of information relating to the early years of the GWR and the men who worked for the company.
From the early days of the First World War the GWR kept records of those of its men who lost their lives and these reports were submitted to the Chief Officers Conference on a monthly basis. The monthly reports were then assembled into a bound volume and we are fortunate to hold this unique and important record in the collection at STEAM. From these reports the GWR produced Rolls of Honour and War Memorials to honour the dead. By the end of 1915 the first GWR Roll of Honour was placed at Paddington Station. The list of those who died in service, and concurrently the Roll of Honour, were regularly updated throughout the war and copies placed at larger stations across the GWR network. The Rolls of Honour continued to be produced until about 1922 as the war dead continued to be confirmed. They detailed the names and railway department of the 2,524 men who lost their lives, as well as the honours awarded to serving GWR personnel.
We hold two Rolls of Honour in our collection. One, which was produced in October 1918, one month before the war ended. The second was produced in October 1922, 4 years after the war ended. It was one of the final versions and included the names of those men whose fate was uncertain at the end of the war, but by this date could only be presumed dead.
STEAM has a collection of tickets ranging from the 1860s through to the mid 20th century. They cover a wide range of locations on the Great Western Railway network, as well as pre-grouping companies such as the Cornwall Railway, Bristol & Exeter Railway and Midland and South Western Junction Railway.
The collection mainly covers 1st, 2nd and 3rd class passenger tickets, but also includes tickets for bicycles and for dogs. There are also tickets for the GWR’s road motor buses and for station platform only. Furthermore there is a selection of leather bound free passes, some of which belonged to GWR General Manager, Sir Felix Pole.