Mechanics' Institution Trust

A Victorian Christmas at the Railway Village Museum

Step back in time this Christmas with the Railway Village Museum at 34 Faringdon Road. Explore Victorian Christmas traditions in the cottage, and witness the sights, sounds and smells of Victorian life during the festive season.

There will be low cost fun for the whole family at this free event, so we expect to get quite busy. Please book a space in advance where possible to avoid disappointment on the day.

What you can expect:

– Art exhibitions
– Christmas Craft workshops: Make your own wrapping paper!
– Santa’s Grotto
– Stalls and Games
– Tours and Trails

How much will it cost?

Entry is FREE for the museum, crafts and other activities, and there is no need to book in advance (Donations Welcome).
Tickets to see Santa are £2 each and include a small gift. To book Santa’s Grotto click here.

Is there going to be any tours?

Yes! Our popular Guided Walking Tours are running and are available at 11:30 and 13:30. While our tours are free, we advise that you book a walking tour to avoid dissapointment, click here and select a time.

Are the Virtual Walking Tours going to be available?

Yes! Our virtual walking tours are available for free, 24/7. There is no need to book our Virtual Trails, they are available here:
Mechanics’ Institute Tour
Health Tour

What is the Christmas Craft Workshop all about?

It’s a FREE Potato Printing Workshop: You can make your own wrapping paper just in time for Christmas!

There is currently no need to book a session for this workshop. Workshops will last up to 45 minutes and will start on the hour, every hour from 11:00-15:00. Children must be accompanied by a responsible adult at all times. Suitable for ages 5+. The craft workshop will be running from the Central Community Centre in Emlyn Square, SN15GP.

Will Santa be there?

This December, Santa will be paying a special visit to Swindon’s historic Railway Village as part of the Victorian Christmas event at the Railway Village Museum.

Santa is very busy this year, and we expect a lot of people will want to see him. Book your slot in advance to avoid disappointment on the day. Tickets are £2 each and include a free small gift, you can book here.

Children will get the chance to have a chat with Santa about how Christmas has changed in Swindon, and what it would have been like around Christmas through the Victorian times.

There are a range of FREE games, craft workshops and other activities for the whole family to enjoy while you wait for Santa.

Santa’s Grotto is suitable for children of all ages. Children must be accompanied by a responsible adult at all times.

What exhibitions will there be?

We will be joined by IPSUM Swindon who are a Mental Health and Wellbeing Charity supporting Swindon and the surrounding area. Their aims are to help address issues such as mental, psychological and emotional health: loneliness and isolation: increase self-esteem, encourage an active lifestyle: and to help promote positive change.

Ipsum will be displaying a variety of quality Art, produced by local artists, and will also running colouring activities for the whole family to enjoy. Do come and say hi!

How to get here:

Railway Village Museum, 34 Faringdon Road, SN1 5BJ.

We encourage the use of public transport, and you can plan your bus journey here

Parking is also available at Bristol Street Car Park

A brief history of the Museum

The Railway Village Museum is carefully looked after and resembles the home of a Victorian railway worker family.

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.

More here

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