STEAM museum at Swindon

I’m celebrating. My body clock has realigned. Lights out at 10ish, wake about 6:30. Thank goodness!

Yesterday we returned to Swindon to visit Steam which is a museum telling the story of Great Western Railways. Everyone agreed that it’s one of the best museums they’ve seen. So many of the men in our family worked here and many did their apprenticeships there.

The first was my GG Grandfather, Frederick ALLEY, who moved his family to Swindon about 1869, 1870 and he started work as a labourer. Prior to that he was a cordwinder or shoemaker in Trowbridge. By 1881 he was a machine man and his son Frederic Ernest (my grandfather) was apprenticed as a boiler maker. His younger sons became apprenticed as they reached the age of 15. Twins, Frank & Jesse, we’re too; Frank as a tin smith and Jesse as an engine painter. Jesse’ apprenticeship was for 6 years! Others of the family joined the company too. When Frederick retired he was instrumental in forming an organisation for the retired men & he was secretary of it for many years.

When we arrived at Steam we were very happy to meet up with Fran and Wendy once more. (Christine was too busy getting ready to fly to the Greek Islands). Wendy showed us a wonderful old family bible given to my GG Grandmother, Elizabeth GOULD, by her mother Ann GOULD née MILLARD on her 21st birthday. It has all the family dates written in the front. What a find!

A page from the bible

I’ll tell the story of the museum in pictures

The wheels used initially. It was 7ft
It was tough. Only 10 minute toilet breaks or you were docked pay

Life was tough. There was no safety equipment of any kind not even noise protection and there were many horrible accidents. The company built a whole town of housing and set up a health system which became the beginning of the National Health.

We really enjoyed our visit to Steam to see how and where our ancestors worked.