Friday, 4 July 2014

Swindon a Railway Town - 4th July

First thing this morning I took Jimmy a walk along the river back to St John’s Lock and over the bridge to the Trout Inn and then took the excellent path across to the Church in Lechlade and back along the river to the boat a really lovely walk.


We did some shopping at Cutler and Bayliss, the traditional family Butcher and Greengrocers where you can buy some lovely fresh local produce.

Next we went to the Londis Supermarket where as usual we asked if Jimmy could go in; the assistant made a phone call and said that we could. Several of the assistants showed considerable interest in him and his training and then the Manager appeared and asked us to leave as it was a food shop and he was not a working Guide Dog. We tried to explain the need for him to be in shops but she would not budge so June took him outside whilst I paid for the shopping we had already completed. This was the first time that I have ever been refused permission to be in a Food Shop.

June had a 9.30 appointment at the local Tangles Hairdressers after which we caught the 11.08 am bus to Swindon as we had never been there before. It was just a 25 minute ride. After a quick bite to eat the girls went off shopping and the boys decided to go and find the Steam Railway Museum.

railway village

On route we found the Railway Village which was planned when the Great Western Railway Company's 7ft-wide, broad gauge line reached Swindon in 1840.
From the outset there was considerable difficulty in providing accommodation for the employees at the Swindon railway works and the solution was to build a model village, using Bath stone (most probably from the cutting out of Box tunnel) and stone from the Swindon quarries.

Driven by commercial considerations (the GWR was not a philanthropic organisation!), builders Rigby's constructed the housing to a standard which they considered would warrant the rent which skilled engineering workers could be expected to pay.
Each road was named after the destinations of trains that passed nearby - Bristol, Bath, Taunton, London, Oxford and Reading among them - and was built in two blocks of four parallel streets, not dissimilar in appearance to passing trains.

The village still looks a very smart area to live despite being close to the railway.


We carried on walking through a long tunnel which takes you under the railway lines and came to the STEAM Museum which tells the remarkable story of the Great Western Railway and introduces you to Isambard Kingdom Brunel whose engineering genius created virtually every aspect of the Great Western Railway - from London to Bristol and beyond. Although we did not have time to go and explore the museum we did see that they had a large selection of GWR locomotives on display, including the famous Star Class 4-6-0 No 4003 Lode Star and Castle Class 4-6-0 No 4073 Caerphilly Castle. They also have a marvellous replica of the broad gauge engine North Star and STEAM is currently home to Manor Class 4-6-0 No 7821 Ditcheat Manor.

You need at least 2 to 3 hours for your visit and as we had only 45 minutes left before we needed to catch the bus back we decided to leave the visit to another time. The Museum is housed in a beautifully restored Grade II railway building in the heart of the former Swindon railway works and is situated right opposite the new Swindon Designer Outlet,so the girls will have somewhere to while away their time.

Since we have got back to Lechlade the moorings have become much busier with at least 6 narrowboats and a cruiser arriving. The last boat was towing a rowing boat with 2 girls and 2 boys on who had gone down river earlier and were obviously finding it too difficult to row back up to the bridge.


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