'Trip', if you happened to be a Swindonian and one that worked 'inside' the Great Western Railway's Swindon Works, was the event of the year. When, in 1848, a party of some 500 made up of men from the Mechanics Institution and their families took the company's gratis train to Oxford, they set a tradition that lasted for over 120 years. Trip enabled the 'trippers' to travel initially all over the GWR system, then up and down the country and, in later times, even across the Channel to Europe. It was a masterpiece of management and in its heyday numbers up to 26,000 would leave Swindon in a matter of hours. Over the years Trip became part of the fabric of life for Swindon Works' railway families and they invested it with their individual rituals and traditions. It was talked about with hushed breath and hopeful longing for many months before the event and is now remembered long years after with great fondness. This book provides an evocative record of Trip for those who remember the excursions and for anyone interested in the history of Swindon and the administrative prowess of the GWR.
Archive photographs and postcards offer a fascinating glimpse of Swindon Works and the families on holiday at an array of Trip destinations.
Rosa Matheson is a railway historian. She has taught railway history and women's studies, and is also a freelance journalist. She lives in Swindon.