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Swindon Designer Outlet And Steam Museum

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Before reading any further you need to be wearing your best anorak and have your credit card in good health:

We've been here a few times in the past but last Tuesday was the first time I'd actually been to the museum. Firstly there's plenty of parking in two car parks - £1 for 5 hours then £12 all day. It's all part of the old locomotive works and next to the west car park is an old turntable which is grade 1 listed. You can see it on Google Earth. Apart from being a normal designer outlet this one has preserved some of it's original features and my favourite shop is the M&S Outlet with it's overhead workshop crane! There are other features and bits of machinery dotted around the place too. Prices aren't sky high like some outlets and there's plenty of eating places including a food court. 

I remember getting virtually thrown out of Ted Baker's for being too old. The young assistant abandoned me!

The museum, now called STEAM is next door. A tenner for old gits and free parking for all; you log in your number plate and the ANPR let's you out. The building although an old workshop, is clean and bright with plenty of space. The cafe is only good for drinks. The local lady running it told me it's not been the same since Covid and although it used to do food, it's never been re-introduced apart from sandwiches in the fridge.

The museum itself is well laid out and you go round in a set order to learn the story of the works. Like Ikea. Notable features: the Caerphilly Castle loco which is set over an inspection pit allowing visitors to wander underneath where lights illustrate it's naughty bits. You are likely to bump into some idiot walking along with his phone pointing upwards though, and it won't be a youngster! I had a go at being a signalman in an interactive signal box just before a party of schoolkids descended. Unfortunately the interactive driver experience was broken. I found the amount of memorials to those who served and those who were lost in World Wars, rather poignant. Of course we don't see them in modern buildings but these were from all over the original works. The figures are quite breathtaking.

The Outlet, museum and the carparks are only a tiny fraction of the original locomotive works. On the map: the Outlet is mainly the old boiler shop, the museum is the old fitting and machine shop R.


The rest is mostly industrial estates now. The map shows the works in 1846 and 1946, not long to wait for the next version! 

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And for those that despise shopping and like a bit of old diesel too a trip to prickwillow drainage engine museum near ely is a good one especially when they do running days, a lot of the old drainage pumps were powered by tugboat engines and the like, and they're huge.

And of course Ely is a pretty place to visit while you're nearby.

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