Report - GWR Chain Testing Shop, Swindon, Jan 2011

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Conquistador d'Wolverton
28DL Full Member
Sep 21, 2008
Hey Guys,

Long time no see. It’s been a while since I’ve been on any explores, this is sadly due in part to my post-grad return to universoty, coupled with dwindling funds. However after my most recent coursework deadline (based in Forest Mills Nottingham) I found the time to hit the road with some friends, pick up my old tripod, camera bag o’ tricks and go on a mini road-trip. Sadly we weren't able to get into many new places and I realise this place has been explored before, however here is my contribution.


The GWR works at Swindon began life in 1843 when Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s, Paddington to Bristol railway was required to have a depot at a convenient distance along the route for engine working. At its peak the works employed 14,000 and occupied 11.25 acres, making it one of the largest such works in the World. The works are also credited with producing the last steam locomotive, and the first diesel hydraulic loco in the UK. The chain testing shop was built in 1873, and whilst only occupying a very small part of this enormous factory; tested around 57miles of rope and chains every year, up until the mid 60s. The works finally closed in 1986 and over the ensuing decades nearly all of the old sheds have been converted or demolished. Only two sheds; J Shop and the chain testing shop remain derelict.


The testing machines themselves are grade II listed, and will feature in a new £19m postal museum which is currently being developed on the site.