Collection highlights

Maps & Drawings

One of the largest areas of this collection is the plans and drawings collection, consisting of around 3,500 individual pieces. This includes plans and drawings relating to locomotives, rolling stock, stations, workshops, buildings, equipment, machinery, furniture, fixtures and fittings and track diagrams. Of particular note is a collection of 110 plans of Swindon Works and the Railway Village that were donated to the Museum in 2007 by Network Rail Archives.

  • Swindon Works Map

    plus icon

    This map dates from around the 1940’s and shows the many workshops, offices and other buildings at Swindon Works Map.  It also shows the huge network of tracks and sidings in and around the Works site in fascinating detail.  On the South East edge of the Works, the layout of Swindon’s Railway Village can be seen.  The smaller map in the top left corner shows Swindon Works as it was in 1846.  A comparison between the two maps shows the growth of the Works over the century.

    The Swindon Works Map can be downloaded, licensed and even produced as a bespoke gift or print at:

  • GWR Network Map

    plus icon

    This GWR network maps dates from the mid 1920’s and illustrates the extent of GWR territory after Grouping.  It shows the intricate network of GWR main lines and branch lines that criss-crossed the South West and extended as far North as Liverpool and Manchester.  These maps were made widely available to the public and because of that, they also show the routes for the company’s steamer services to Ireland, the continent and the Channel Islands, GWR coach routes and also the locations of the company’s hotels.  They were often included in the GWR’s publicity books and given to the public in specially made folders or envelopes.

    The GWR Network Map can be downloaded, licensed and even produced as a bespoke gift or print at:

  • Network Rail donation

    plus icon

    In 2007 the Network Rail Archive donated a set of 110 drawings to STEAM.  The drawings included beautifully drawn and colour washed designs for workshops and other buildings at Swindon Works.  Also in the collection are designs for houses and public buildings in Swindon’s Railway Village. This collection dates from 1836 through to the early 1840s and are a rare record of the early history of New Swindon.  Many of the drawings are signed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, which suggests these are the work of the great engineer himself.

    The plans would have formed part of the Great Western Railway’s huge collection of drawings.  Following nationalisation in the 1940s many plans passed into the care of British Railways, and in the years following the subsequent privatisation of the railways they became part of the working archives of Network Rail who operate and maintain today’s rail infrastructure.

  • Equipment drawings

    plus icon

    The GWR tried to make as much as it possibly could itself. So not only did the Draftsmen in the Drawing Office design locomotives and rolling stock, they also designed everyday utility equipment. This drawing of a Herford Oil Can is an example of the kinds of items that although standard issue on the railway, still need to be drawn initially and then manufactured to the same design.

    Many of the GWR Equipment Drawings can be downloaded, licensed and even produced as a bespoke gift or print at:

  • Royal Carriage Drawing

    plus icon

    Queen Victoria took her first journey by train on the 13th June 1842 when she travelled from Slough to Paddington. It was the first railway journey to be taken by a reigning monarch and Queen Victoria wrote that she was ‘quite charmed by it’. This drawing is for the design of a new saloon carriage for Queen Victoria in April 1888.  The detail on the drawing shows the plush interior with its carved wooden decoration and luxurious upholstery.  The circle detail on the door would have been a wooden carving of the Royal Coat of Arms.

    Queen Victoria’s journey did much to endorse this relatively new form of transport to the general public and began a tradition of rail travel by the Royal Family that continues today.

magnifying glass icon


ticket icon


shopping bag icon


envelope icon