Mechanic's Institution Trust

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Visit us at The Railway Village Museum!

Step back in time at Swindon’s Railway Village Museum, 34 Faringdon Road, and find out how Victorian railway workers lived. We are volunteer-run and are always looking for more support. If you’re interested please email

2023 opening dates

The museum is usually open monthly on a Saturday, free entry (donations encouraged). You can read more about the museum below and any special events or openings below.

  • Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd April, 11am-3pm – Easter opening
  • Saturday 29th April, 11am-3pm – a pre-Coronation opening
  • Saturday 3rd June, 11am-3pm
  • Saturday 8th July, 11am-3pm
    Saturday 5th August, 11am-3pm
  • Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th September, 11am-3pm – Heritage Open Days weekend
  • December TBC – Christmas Opening 2022 – dressed for a Victorian Christmas

2023 Railway Village Walking Tours

Why not join one of our tours of the Railway Village while you visit the museum? Walking tours usually run at the following times on opening days:

Booking is essential for walking tours to avoid disappointment.

We are delighted to be working with Rodbourne Community History Group, who will be running a tour of the Outlet at 10am on the Saturdays we are open. To book contact or call 01783 616588

Private tours and school visits can also be arranged in exchange for a donation. For more information contact Katie –

A brief history of the Museum

In 1841 Swindon was chosen by the Great Western Railway as the site for its locomotive repair facility. Old Swindon did not have enough accommodation to cope with the large influx of skilled industrial workers from Scotland, Wales, London, Bristol and the north of England who came to the town for employment at the GWR Works. As a result, the GWR built the ‘Railway Village’ – an estate of 300 houses – for its workforce in the lowland area of New Swindon, near the canals.

The terraced rows of stone cottages were partly designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and were built by the company J & C Rigby of London, who were also constructing Swindon Station. The cottage that became the Museum was lived in by families from around 1846/7 until the late 1970s.

In 1966 Swindon Borough Council began renovating many of the properties in the Village, having bought them from British Railways. Given the importance of the railway industry in Swindon’s development, it was decided to turn one of the cottages into a ‘Living Museum’ and in March 1980 34 Faringdon Road welcomed its first visitors. In 2000 the Museum closed, but following renovation it reopened in 2017, now managed by the Mechanics’ Institution Trust.

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