Little did I know in 2013 that my son would still be obsessed with steam railways and locomotives all these years later. Towards the end of last year we decided to revisit somewhere we’d first explored when my son was just over three years old. He couldn’t really remember our first trip, so it was time to spend a day visiting STEAM in Swindon and reminisce on when my son was a tiny tot.
Visiting STEAM in Swindon is really easy. It’s well signposted and there is parking available in the large car park next to Swindon Designer Outlet, which is next door to the Museum. Show your parking ticket when you arrive at the museum and then you’ll need to take your museum tickets to the customer service desk in the Outlet Centre when you leave. They will change your parking ticket for you so that you get free parking for the day.
Visiting STEAM in Swindon five years on with a son who was just a couple of months away from his ninth birthday was such a different experience to our first trip in early 2013. There was no worrying about noise levels this time and his knowledge about Brunel and the Great Western Railway was lovely to listen to as we walked around.
It’s the sort of place that any railway loving child is going to enjoy visiting. There are static exhibits as well as a few interact opportunities.
We’ve visited so many heritage railways over the years, I’ve only shared about half of our adventures on the blog, and my son has become really quite knowledgeable about the mechanics of a locomotive. Seeing stripped down boilers is something he almost takes for granted these days.
He couldn’t remember walking underneath one of the locos on our last visit. On that occasion his Dad held him up to show him the workings, no assistance required this time as he raced around.
He was in his element visiting STEAM in Swindon and I was so glad we’d made the decision to return. He even agreed to have his photo taken with his Mum.
It wasn’t long before he was running off ahead again though, looking at the various exhibits. He’s a big fan on Brunel, so he did stop long enough to pose with one of his idols.
My son’s dream is to work on a heritage railway line one day, and to learn to drive the locos. It was lovely to see him trying out how it might feel on the various displays.
In one of the interactive displays he could really feel like he was driving the loco as the controls move, as does the floor. He was in his element and spent ages here.
He was also happy to pretend to be in charge of the break van.
One thing that we all remembered from our first visit to STEAM in 2013, was the signal levers that you can move. Back then they towered over my son, now it’s the other way round.
We visited the now demolished signal box in Banbury some time back and my son still remembered what he learned there that day.
He happily wandered around the other static displays and platforms. Some locos you can climb up into whilst others you admire from the floor.
There’s one more highlight before you reach the end of your time visiting STEAM in Swindon. The model railway, which kids can control, held my son’s attention as much now as it did in 2013. He would set the trains going and then run around the track following them. Simple pleasures!
We’d thoroughly enjoyed revisiting STEAM and I’m sure we’ll return again in the future. Have you been?