Swindon Panel Days

Construction of the new building at Didcot Railway Centre that will house Swindon Panel is starting! The site has been cleared of its portacabins (the contents of which were waiting for the completion of the museum annex) and the foundations are being started.

As there are now tangible Swindon Panel-related ‘things’ going at the site we are delighted to launch our first regular meeting programme: Swindon Panel Saturdays and Swindon Panel Sundays!

What will we do on ‘Swindon Panel Days’…?

The activities on these days will vary during the development of the scheme, such as

  • in the short-medium term will focus on the development of the site and the building
  • moving on to the internal decorating and fitting out of the Swindon Panel room
  • the installation, commissioning and testing of the panel controls, indications and simulator
  • development and installation of visitor interpretation materials, display boards, demo interlocking, etc
  • ultimately leading on to operating the panel, both for members’ sessions and public demonstrations

That list will keep us busy for quite some while!

Building work commences

During the building stages we will be working with the GWS’s civil engineering team, by whom the building project is being managed, our focus will be working on the building that will ultimately house Swindon Panel (with the opportunity to become involved in other projects on the site too as we all work together).

The speed with which the new building will be completed for us to move in, and its ultimate cost, will be determined by the amount of volunteer assistance our two organisations can give. Working with the GWS teams will also help us to integrate into the workings of the site, learn where tools and equipment are, share skills, etc. This will also enable suitably led independent teams to work on specific sub-projects later should the requirement arise.

While the building work is going on the ‘heavy duty’ items, such as crane work, etc, will be carried out by contractors or professional-qualified volunteers. There will be all manner of other ‘leg work’ for us to get our hands dirty with such as dealing with materials and equipment, digging, carrying, moving materials, painting, DIY etc. Some of it might not sound very glamorous but it’s all jolly good fun, very rewarding, and necessary to achieve our aim and aspiration of preserving Swindon Panel. Of course, if you have a specific skill, especially those required in building construction and fitting-out, such as electrical work, plastering, etc, then you will be most welcome indeed to put them to good use here!

After our time on the site we will try to organise some kind of evening relaxing activity, such as a drink in the pub or a meal afterwards (optional of course).

When are the dates?

We have opted for one Saturday and one Sunday per month as we know people have a lot of regular weekend commitments which might conflict if it was always one or the other. You are very welcome to attend any (and all!) Swindon Panel Days, please don’t feel you don’t have to stick to the Saturday Team or the Sunday Team!

All the dates are listed in our Activities Diary page.

The GWS engineering team generally meet on both the weekend days when our ‘Swindon Panel Days’ fall on the Saturday or Sunday, and we are all welcome to join them on any day they are working.

Building work commences

What is the Timetable?

You are more than welcome to join in and finish as is convenient for you. Here is the overall timetable of the day:

If you wish to join us for a cooked breakfast, these will be served in the restaurant between 8 and 9am. The day start time proper is 9.30am. There will be a briefing from Richard Antliff (project leader) about the items that will be tackled that day.

Morning break for tea and biscuits at 11.15 (I think we can live with that ‘rule’!) Break for lunch at 12.30 for either a cooked meal in the restaurant or bring sandwiches etc if you prefer. Afternoon tea and biscuits at 3.15. Break up for the day between 5 and 5.30pm.

Of course you are welcome to make your own itinerary and arrive and leave (and eat biscuits) whenever you wish, or when train connections allow.

What do I need to bring?

For the site work you’ll need to bring work clothes or overalls, and steel toe-cap boots. Dress according to the weather. HV clothing is not required for the work we’ll be doing (please avoid wearing this unnecessarily as it negatively affects the atmosphere of the Railway Centre).

The DRC cafe is open for hot food and drink, or you are welcome to bring your own packed lunch etc. Tea and Coffee is available (free) all day. Feel free to bring biscuits for sharing!

How do I join in?

Just arrive at Didcot and meet either an SPS officer (Tom, Danny, James, Brian, Tim) or Richard Antliff, and we’ll arrange you with a suitable team!

If you want to let us know you’re coming in advance then that is fine, but you’re more than welcome to just ‘arrive’ on the day. Please note there is an access gate code to the site, so if you are not familiar with with you’ll need to contact us in advance.

[Photos by Richard Antliff]