His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent visited STEAM – Museum of the Great Western Railway yesterday (7 Dec) to see its award-winning displays and hear the story of Swindon’s rich industrial past as a railway town.
The Duke of Kent was warmly welcomed to Swindon by His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Wiltshire, Sarah Troughton, Swindon Mayor, Councillor Abdul Amin, and Mayoress, Mrs Subena Akhtar. They were joined by Swindon Borough Council Leader David Renard, Councillor Matty Courtliff, Cabinet Member for Culture, Heritage, Leisure, and Town Centre Experience, and Swindon Museums Manager, Frances Yeo.
Councillor Matty Courtliff, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Heritage, Leisure, and Town Centre Experience, said: “We were delighted to welcome the Duke of Kent to STEAM today.”
“It was fitting that after arriving at the Museum, The Duke of Kent signed a Swindon Works clocking-in card, as was done by the then Prince of Wales at the opening of Swindon’s millennium project 22 years ago.”
Housed in a restored Grade II listed railway building, the Swindon Borough Council-owned museum takes visitors on a journey into the heart of the Great Western Railway in Swindon. Exhibition areas celebrate the men and women who built, travelled on and operated the GWR, under the direction of renowned Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
During the visit, The Duke of Kent viewed iconic Swindon-built engines and got up onto the footplate of GWR Locomotive No. 6000 King George V. STEAM Tour Guide and former GWR locomotive fireman, Geoff Davies, described the engine’s incredible voyage of over 3,500 miles as it travelled to America to take part in the centenary celebrations for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad in 1927.
The Duke also viewed objects relating to the Royal Visit by Their Majesties King George V and Queen Mary to Swindon Works in 1924. The Duke was especially interested to hear how his grandfather, King George V drove GWR Locomotive No. 4082 Windsor Castle from Swindon Works to the Railway Station, with Queen Mary also on the footplate.
Following this, His Royal Highness was shown STEAM’s new special exhibition programme for 2022, which explores the story of changes to train travel on the GWR network.
While in the museum, The Duke of Kent took the time to meet with STEAM volunteers and the Friends of Swindon Railway Museum to discuss their work and contributions made to support STEAM.
Swindon Museums Manager, Frances Yeo, said: “It has been an honour to welcome His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent to STEAM. The close connection between the GWR and the Royal Family began in 1842 when Queen Victoria became the first reigning monarch to undertake a railway journey by travelling on the GWR train from London Paddington to Windsor.
“We have thoroughly enjoyed giving The Duke of Kent a tour of the museum and presenting the GWR’s fascinating history, including the immense impact that the railways had on Swindon.”
The tour concluded with The Duke of Kent stepping inside Queen Victoria’s Royal Saloon and seeing two groups of schoolchildren on a visit to the museum.