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GWR Highworth Branch


The route comprises the GWR single track branch that ran from Swindon to the small country town of Highworth in north Wiltshire. The branch is 5 ½ miles in length with 4 stations. There are two industrial facilities off the branch, one to the Vickers Aircraft Factory at Long Marston which is ¼ mile long and ends at a small factory facility, and the second industry is a large military ammunition plant near the GWR main line at Stratton. The GWR main line is only represented where it was used by branch trains into Swindon, plus about 1 mile in each direction out of Swindon for the purpose of ‘running in’ and ‘running out’ AI services. Swindon locomotive depot, works, gasworks, PW yard and many storage sidings and goods facilities are depicted which gives huge scope for shunting-based activities.

The route has approximately 50 to 60 activities encompassing the whole life story of the branch from construction in the 1880s to abandonment in 1965. The main focus of the activities is just prior to and during WW1 and the 1920s when the branch was at it’s busiest.

Type of activities include: local passenger, workmens trains, mixed trains, local freight, construction trains, inspection trains, military trains, special trains and shunting of various types.

The branch line speed is 25 mph as it was built under a light railway order. At some places on the branch the speed restriction is lower. The GWR main line has a speed restriction of 80 mph.

The line is fully and accurately signalled, including the whole of Swindon, to a 1922 track diagram. However no ground discs are represented as these were causing problems in the route (too many light sources on one tile).

Period: The route as depicted is set around 1916-1926 (as you should be able to tell from the road vehicles and ladies fashions) however activities are included for a much wider period.

GWR period locomotives:

  • 15 branch engines, including a steam railcar, contractors engine and 3 military shunters. Main branch types are 2-4-0 Metro, 0-4-2 517, 0-6-0 850 and 0-4-2 58xx tanks.
  • 7 other ‘player’ engines for main line use including Dean Goods, GWR experimental diesel, GWR experimental petrol shunter, a private owner 0-4-0 diesel shunter, 2021 class pannier and finally an MR 700 class 0-6-0 and an LSWR Ilfracombe Goods 0-6-0 for ‘foreign’ wartime trains.
  • 8 main line engines including Aberdare 2-6-0, The Great Bear, Bird- County- and City class 4-4-0s, Star, Castle and King.
BR period locomotives:
  • 4 branch engines including 1366 pannier tank, 58xx tank, 03 and 08 class diesel shunters.
  • 7 main line engines including 47xx 2-8-0 heavy freight, 42xx 2-8-0 heavy freight tank, 2251 class 0-6-0 Collett Goods, Star, Castle and King, plus Class 35 diesel-hydraulic D7003.
Passenger and freight stock is too numerous to list but amounts to around 80 items for the BR era and 180 for the GW and pregrouping period.

The route requires the latest version of XTracks (it was built with v3.11).

The route uses approximately 75% custom scenery objects, or objects donated from the freeware community. Most are generic although purpose built station models have been used for all stations, and for a number of special and well-known buildings in the Swindon area. Kuju/default items are restricted mainly to vegetation, some clutter and terrtex.

Route Map


Swindon to Highworth

Swindon Transfer Yard. Goods shed in left background. Swindon Gas Works centre background. Yard loco facilities right background.
A general view of Stratton station and yard, looking west down Ermin Street, which until recently was the A419.
Another view of Stratton, this time looking south-west. Trinidad stone crushing plant in left background.
Mr Whittaker's coal yard at Stratton. Mr Morgan, a Cricklade merchant, has arrived for his weekly load. Coal wagons by Caldrail.
Stanton level crossing. Stanton mill in the background. Foreground lorries by Mike Wilson. The Wilmer wagon, based on wagons of a Swindon coal merchant who traded in the 20s, is by Caldrail.
The goods train departs Stanton, ambling off down the Bydemill valley. Dead trees and weeds are by Jim Ward.
Cricklade Road Crossing. More of Mike's lovely lorries in evidence. Stylish retro road signs by John Kendrick.
On the way to Hannington the chuckling Bydemill brook keeps the line company. Swanborough hamlet allotments on the rising ground in the distance.
Major and Lady Caldwell, of Hannington Hall are out riding and the Major has stopped to talk with Mr Wilson, one of his tenants, who is ploughing Swanborough Middle Field. Wildlife by Duckweed, plough by Mike Wilson.
Shunting at Hannington. GW timber-built loading gauge by Decapod.
At Hannington work proceeds at it's own gentle pace. Horse, cart and flour sacks by Duckweed. GW 5-plank by Robin Howell.
Finally the goods train draws to a halt at Highworth. A consignment of 2-stroke water pumps has arrived for Bartops Agricultural Engineers in the town, all the way from Rotax of Willesden. The Forest of Dean coal is for the Highworth Gas Company. Wagons by Caldrail.
Passengers wait patiently for the next train. The ladies don't seem interested in the shunting going on. The man from the Pru' looks pleased with himself; he must have sold a couple of policies in the town this morning. 1920s ladies by Duckweed.
A GWR OpenA sheeted wagon with coconut fibre bales for the Vorda Matting Works. A mile and a half distant the imposing facade of Hannington Hall dominates the valley. Wagon by Robin Howell.
End of the line. The buffer stops mark the end of the headshunt. Metro tank engine by Decapod, "Beaver C" flat wagon by Gopher, signs by John Kendrick.

GWR Centenery Coach by Tim Booth and King Class by Robin Howell

Close up of the leading break coach
KGV and the up Cornish Riviera Express passing Wootten Bassett
Close up of a restaurant car window. Beautiful shaping and curves to the bodywork Tim.
Approaching Swindon Works.
Passing a van train on the up relief line. Another good view of the tumblehome and recessed doors.
Passing Rodbourne Lane signalbox and St Marks church.
Passing the school on the right with the carriage paint shops and Swindon Workmen's Village up ahead and to the right.
Approaching Gloucester Branch Junction. 1841 running shed on the left.
Storming through on the up fast line.
Some coal empties returning to the Rhondda held at the down through line starter.
A railmotor stands ignored in the Shrivenham Bay as all eyes watch the express pass.
Green lights all the way to Didcot.
Homeward bound.


The up afternoon milk train draws into Swindon platform 1
A Swindon taxi and private buggy await passengers.
The mid-morning mixed train departs for Highworth as No.111 The Great Bear brings a Paddington-Bristol train into platform 4 and a Reading-bound stopping train stands in platform 5.
The Reading train gets the right away and pursues the Highworth Bunk Train as it weaves through the pointwork onto the up relief line.
The County Class hauled semi-fast on the up main overhauls the branch mixed on the up relief.


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