Signalling a special success: Swindon Panel now working at Didcot centre

Didcot Railway Centre’s new signalling centre exhibition is already proving a big hit with visitors since it opened on June 23.

Youngsters enjoy the challenge of an old-fashioned computer game!

The exhibition examines the history of train control centres from the railway policeman to the recently opened Thames Valley Signalling Centre, and features the 1930s illuminated panel from Bristol East signalbox and the Swindon Panel from the 1960s as major exhibits, in a project having been undertaken in conjunction with the Swindon Panel Society.

The first image (bottom left) shows Swindon Panel, which was installed in its building alongside Swindon station in 1968, and was finally taken out of service in 2016. It was sold by Network Rail to the Swindon Panel Society for £1. The society moved it to the new building at Didcot in April 2016. The Swindon Room is decorated in 1970s/1980s railway office style with carpet tiles, white walls and suspended ceiling with concealed strip lighting.

The panel is about 30ft long and controlled a large portion of the original GWR London to Bristol main line. At the left-hand end it extends east beyond Uffington. At Swindon, the line to Gloucester diverges, and the panel controls this route as far as Kemble.

West of Wootton Bassett junction, the panel extends beyond Chippenham on the route to Bristol via Bath, and nearly to Bristol on the South Wales route.

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