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Reference Library

STEAM Museum

COVID-19 Notice

Following Government advice, STEAM is closed to the public for the foreseeable future. 

As a result the Curatorial Team are not currently in a position to answer enquiries related to:

•             Historical information held within the STEAM Archive and reference collection

•             Family History enquiries

•             Research visits to the STEAM Library and/or Archive

Please get in touch with your enquiry when STEAM is open to visitors once again.

The Curatorial Team may be able to assist with enquiries related to:

•             Potential donations (including bequests) or loans to the STEAM collections

•             Images on the STEAM Picture Library (, including reproduction requests




This offers researchers 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.

The Reference Library 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.

The Archive contains original documentation relating to the history of the GWR and Swindon Works.

Visiting the Reference Library and / or Archive

The Reference Library and Archive are open Monday to Friday 10.00am to 4.00pm by appointment only. Visits to the Reference Library and Archive are dependent on the availability of the volunteers who assist the Curatorial Team.

Visits to either or both facilities are subject to a fee, as follows:

  Single Day Pass 12 Month Season Pass
 Adults (15+yrs)  £9.35  £18.75
 Student  £7.50  £15.45
Senior  £7.50  £15.45

If you would like to visit please contact the Curatorial Team:

E-mail or telephone on 01793 466607 or 466608.

All passes include entry to the museum. Any repeat visits under a season pass will also be by appointment only.

For remote enquiries please see the Historical Enquires page.

All visitors must adhere to the terms and conditions prior to their appointment.  Full terms and conditions can be found by downloading the PDF below.

Access to the Reference Library Terms and Conditions


Reference Library

What We Have

The Reference Library contains over 3,000 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. 

There is also an incomplete set of the Great Western Railway Magazine. 

Please click on the link below to see a list of GWR reference books we hold in our Library.

GWR reference books held at STEAM 


What We Have



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 dating back to 1860.

The Harry Collection – an extensive collection of bound order books, specifications, standard stock statements, Lot books, Swindon Works staff registers, and early locomotive, carriage & wagon and road vehicle ledgers from Swindon Works.

Employee History

If you are interested in family research please download our useful guide to sources available at STEAM and at other institutions.

Tracing your GWR Family Tree

Photographs and Postcards

The photograph collection amounts to approximately 100,000 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, mostly related to Swindon Works and other GWR locations. The collection does include some locomotive and carriage drawings.

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 Keith Frankling Collection contains material relating to carriage and wagon design and construction, including plans and other archive material.  Not yet catalogued.


Other Useful Sources of GWR Related Material

The National Archives hold the official GWR company records and archives, which subsequently were part of British Rail, including staff records and accident reports.

Swindon Local Studies Library

Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre