STEAM Great Western Railway museum in Swindon is an indoor attraction in a beautifully restored Grade II listed railway building on the site of the original Swindon railway works. At its peak time in the 1930s the works produced 3 locomotives PER WEEK!! I don’t know much about building trains but that sounds pretty impressive to me! STEAM museum tells the story of the men and women who worked at the railway works with a fantastic exhibition of displays, interactive activities and impressive locomotives.
The first section of the museum takes you through what the railway works was like for those who worked there. You can watch videos and hear stories from the workers. There are displays to explore including the managers office, general store and foundry. These are all family friendly and aimed at helping visitors feel like they have stepped back in time. You can also see some of the machinery in action.
One of my favourite things about STEAM is that you can get really up close to the trains. Some of them have open platforms so you can have a play with the different levers and ring the bell. My boys loved pretending to be the driver.
There’s also an interactive train simulator that teaches you how to drive the train. You have to pull the levers when it tells you to make the train move. The sound effects make it really realistic and the window gives you a drivers view. One of the locomotives on display you can even walk underneath!
Another big hit with the kids is the signal box. Again this talks you through which signals to pull in order to move the train. We spent a good 20 minutes or more doing this!
Just outside the signal box are 3 signals with the flags (probably not the correct term – sorry!) so you can see what each signal does. Baby Bear loved this bit as he could see the movement each time he pulled the signal.
There are several more interactive activities to have a go at in this area plus a miniature railway set up with model village. We literally spent ages in this area as the kids were enjoying the activities so much and it was really quiet during our visit. As well as the interactive exhibits there are plenty of trail sheets you can pick up at the entrance to do on your way round. It really is a great place for all the family to enjoy, regardless of age.
There is a lovely recreation of a train station in the museum, complete with ticket booth, passengers, locomotives and of course all the sounds of a busy station. We took some great family photos here in front of the trains and pretended to buy our tickets. This is a great area for role play.
There are ramps throughout the museum so all areas are accessible for wheelchairs and pushchairs, including the station platform. There is a gift shop and good toilet facilities which were very clean. The cafe is currently closed, however there are plenty of dining options in the Swindon Outlet Centre next door. Parking is in the Swindon Outlet North or West car parks. Take your STEAM admission ticket to the designer outlet information desk to get your free parking pass so you are not charged for parking when you leave.
- Toilets / Disabled Toilet Yes
- Pushchair / Wheelchair Friendly Yes, ramps and lifts to all areas
- Disabled Access Lift/ramp access to all areas. Induction loop, subtitled videos and large print displays. Free entry for carers. Assistance dogs welcome. Automatic entrance doors.
- Dog Friendly No, assistance dogs only.
- Refreshments available Cafe currently closed, food outlets in outlet centre next door
- Car Park Yes
- Gift Shop Yes
- Baby facilities Yes
Address: Fire Fly Avenue, Swindon, SN2 2EY
Price Band: ££
Disclaimer: I paid for our tickets myself and have no connection with STEAM. All words, photos and opinions are that of my own.
For another great railway museum check out Didcot Railway Centre