Object of the month June's Object of the month

June 2024: A KEY piece of Swindon Railway Heritage

Last Key of Swindon Works

June’s Object of the Month is a key piece of Swindon Railway Heritage a GWR key. Which is a recent acquisition to the collection.  But this rather ordinary looking key actually has a unique history.  The key was a master key for Swindon Works in its final days and was the key that locked up Swindon Works for the last time in 1996, before the site was taken over by Tarmac for redevelopment.

How did this key find its way into our collection?  The key belonged to the late Alan Wild.  Alan was for many years the Chairman of the Friends of Swindon Railway Museum.  He also worked at Swindon Works in various senior roles.  When the Works closed in 1986 a skeleton staff was kept on and Alan was part of this group.  He was tasked by British Rail Engineering Ltd to produce an inventory of all vehicle parts.  Alan managed a team from 1994 until the last BR staff departed Swindon in 1996.  On that last day, as senior manager, Alan locked up Swindon Works for one last time.  He handed the key to the new owners Tarmac who promptly gave it back to Alan!  They then replaced all the locks with new ones.


Alan Wild (1941-2023), former Chairman of the Friends of Swindon Railway Museum.


The key remained with Alan for the rest of his life. Sadly, Alan passed away in December 2023 but with the help of the Friends the key was donated to the Museum.  It is now back home, to the site it originated from.

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