Monthly Archives: May 2016

Public Visits to Swindon Panel this Bank Holiday Monday

[Public visits now extended to include Sunday 29 May.]

This weekend is Diesel Gala and Real Ale Festival weekend at Didcot Railway Centre, and SPS are joining in the fun!

On Sunday 29 and Monday 30 May we will have our info tent set up at Didcot spreading the word about Swindon Panel and the work we’re doing, as well as promoting sales of our many souvenirs to ensure we raise enough money to pay for it all!

On Sunday 29 and Monday 30 May we will also be making public tours of the panel in its new building. Now that the internal scaffolding has been removed from the new building a great new space has been opened up and suddenly the internal proportions of the space are much more easily appreciable.

Tours will take place at 11am, 1pm and 3pm on Sunday 29 and Monday 30 May. Numbers on each tour will be limited, so please register with the SPS info stand on the day when you first arrive to avoid disappointment.

You’ll be able to learn:
– the history of the panel and how it was brought to Didcot
– how it will be brought back to life and how it operates
– how it will form part of an exciting new exhibition at the Railway Centre

Everyone is welcome on the tours – members and public – so if you haven’t seen the panel in its new home yet, or if you have but you would like to see how far it has progressed since we put all the Dominos back in, please join us!

Of course, we always welcome extra helpers on Swindon Panel Days like these, so if you’re coming for the tour, why not lend a hand on the stand for half a day as well? It’s very easy-going and a great atmosphere. Please let us know if you can help.

Network Rail Volunteer Leave Opportunity

Network Rail employees: Five days paid volunteer leave every year, what are you doing with yours?

Network Rail employees, did you know…

NR encourages its employees of all grades to take 5 days’ paid “volunteer leave” per year to support UK-registered charities.

The company believes social performance is an integral part of its commitment to sustainability, particularly in two key themes of “Caring for Communities” and “Improving the Passenger Experience”.

Respecting Britain’s Railway Heritage falls within these themes, and therefore working with Swindon Panel Society (registered charity number 1159646) qualifies. Some SPS members have already enjoyed the benefits of this opportunity.

What could be better than being paid to enjoy your hobby!

Of particular interest may be the two week-long periods in August when we hope to tackle a significant amount of the wiring of the panel to the simulator.


To arrange your volunteer leave to volunteer with SPS:

* If you use E-Business you will need to request your leave via Leave of Absence on the E-Business Suite. Select Volunteering “Charitable or Volunteering – Community Engagement” from the absence type.

* If you do not use E-Business you’ll need to complete a volunteering leave form, available on Connect. You will need your line manager’s agreement to be released from duty.

* If you complete a paper timesheet you will also need to add this as volunteering leave.


Please to the Volunteering leave policy (available on Connect), before requesting leave.

If you need any help with volunteering ideas please email the “Charitablegiving” mailbox in the Outlook address book.


Even if you don’t work for Network Rail, your company might have similar schemes that support volunteering.

Panel Tiles Back in Place

Thank you to all our supporters who came along on Saturday 30 April to celebrate the arrival of the panel into its new home.

The “Swindon Room” was packed to bursting with volunteers eagerly replacing tiles. It was great to see our long-standing supporters and some new faces too.

Several milestones were passed:
– the panel now has (almost) all its tiles again and looks good to show to people
– the panel was seen by its first ever members of the general public – visitors to Didcot Railway Centre who happened to be walking past and took an interest. Their interest was a very good sign of things to come.
– reaction of children visiting the panel – they appeared hooked and parents had trouble tearing them away
– sales of Danny’s first book as an author!
– the “back desk” and the panel re-united in the same room.
– the sun shone in Didcot for what feels like the first time this year!

This video was shot by SPS member Ian Lynagh of the work to replace the 3015 tiles into the panel. For supposedly “square” tiles, they do seem to like to only fit certain ways round! Maybe they have rectangularised over the lat 50 years…!

The latter part of the video shows the shamozzles with which those who have worked around these panels will be only too familiar……..

Another video, showing the lifting and moving of the panel is under construction and will be available soon… “Swindon Panel The Mov(i)e”!

See you again on our next working day at Didcot Railway Centre – Saturday 14th May.