The nineteenth century was a time of innovation and expansion across the industrial landscape, and nowhere more so than on the railways, as the new age of iron, steel and steam, literally, gathered pace.
At the head of the race up was the iconic Great Western Railway. As this mighty corporation grew, it absorbed an astonishing 353 railway companies. Many of them had their own workshops, depots and manufacturing, often assembling locomotives to the designs of other companies. All these, along with the various designs, became the responsibility of the GWR on takeover, and followed its standardisation of components where this was possible. These works became the beating heart of the GWR’s vast empire, where majestic engines were built and maintained by some of the most skillful and inventive engineers of the day.
Retired GWR railwayman Ken Gibbs presents a comprehensive portrait of the works from Brunel to the final days of steam in the mid-twentieth century, and beyond to the rediscovery and renovation of many of the workshops for their unique heritage.