Crowds agree Railway festival is the best show of its kind

This Is Wiltshire: Colin Hatch with one of the engines Colin Hatch with one of the engines

HUNDREDS of enthusiasts made tracks to the Steam Museum this weekend for the annual railway festival.

Visitors to the event enjoyed the biggest festival to date, with a host of traction engines, road rollers, rare Stanley Steam cars and some of the country’s finest model railway layouts.

Pop music producer and celebrity modeller Pete Waterman was among the visitors to the museum.

He said it was a great festival because it attracted families as well as rail enthusiasts.

He said: “It is brilliant, it is different to all other shows because it is a family event.

“I’ve been besotted with trains since I was small so it’s great to see so many youngsters here enjoying themselves.

“I think it is great for the museum to show off the heritage of Swindon, and where Swindon has come from, and events like this give youngsters the chance to see that heritage.”

Enthusiasts of all ages had the chance to climb aboard famous locomotives, operate mechanical signals in the signal box and meet the Steam volunteers who once worked on the great locos.

Ian Surtees, Steam commercial manager, said that the event had kept growing and had become so popular that he was having to turn away exhibitors.

He said: “This year is our biggest railway festival ever – we have 20 models on display, the most we have ever had.

“We are using every inch we have available to us in the building and I am very excited.

“It is great to see so many young people here which is what I think makes us different to any other show. It’s not just about the enthusiasts, it’s about getting young people involved.

“We have got some of the best layouts on display here and we have become so popular I am having to turn displays away, so we do have the best of the best here.”

GWR enthusiasts and historians got an extra treat as the festival unveiled a new and unseen collection of GWR artefacts, named The Harry Collection.

This new exhibition, which is one of the biggest railway collections ever to have been donated to a museum, will run until September 30.

Ian Taylor, 46, went along to the went with his 14-year-old son Toby.

He said it was the best festival he had been to.

He said: “It is a great show with so many displays, and the traction engines are great to see.

“My son has loved watching all the model railways and some of the layouts are unbelievable.

“It is definitely the best show of its kind.”

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