January’s Object of the Month is the GWR publication Through the Window. The book is the subject of a new art exhibition currently on display at STEAM.
Through the Window was first published by the Great Western Railway in 1924. It was sold to passengers as a travel companion and provided a mile-by-mile commentary of what could be seen through the window of their journey. The first Through the Window book was between London Paddington and Penzance, a journey of just over 300 miles. The book contained sketches of prominent features, as well as a map for each section of line that was being described. The commentary focused on the history, geography and the industry of the towns and villages on the network.
The Paddington to Penzance edition proved to be very popular. In 1925 a Paddington to Birkenhead edition was published and in 1926 the GWR introduced a third volume to Killarney (Ireland). All volumes of Through the Window were compiled and produced by E.J Burrow & Co Ltd of Cheltenham. They were a specialist guide book and topographical publisher who were known for their good quality books. The designs were attractive and featured colourful front covers with well known landmarks.
The last edition of Through the Window was published by the GWR in 1939. However, the timeless quality of the book has allowed for a modern reprint. The most recent being in 2008.
Our new exhibition ‘Though the Window’ is a collaboration between STEAM – Museum of the Great Western Railway and Swindon Museum and Art Gallery’s Art on Tour project. Art on Tour aims to share more of Swindon’s art collection in more places.
Through the Window is on display in STEAM’s entrance area and the exhibition is free to view. In order to support NHS Test and Trace, visitors will be requested to provide contact details when they arrive at STEAM or check-in using the NHS COVID-19 tracing app.
To limit overall visitor numbers, all visitors and Season Ticket holders wishing to visit STEAM’s main exhibitions and displays need to book their tickets online in advance through the STEAM website: www.steam-museum.org.uk