A GOLDEN milestone for the Swindon Works Training School is being celebrated next month.
The school is celebrating 50 years since it first opened on Dean Street, Newbury Crescent, and to mark the occasion a reunion is being held for all the ex-apprentices.
With the help of the Swindon Apprentice Facebook page, more than 240 apprentices from the British Railway’s Training School have been put back in contact. The reunion now has the potential for an attendance of 700 from up and down the country.
“Around 2,600 people went through the school and after completing the railway apprenticeship, most stayed in the engineering industry,” said Andy Binks, local historian and former railway worker.
“But while many stayed in Swindon, others went back to Cardiff, London and Plymouth.”
It was only through surviving photographs and registers that the apprentices could gradually be identified and reunited. The organisers are still appealing for more ex-apprentices to attend and extending the invite to anyone who possesses memorabilia, photos or memories of the school as well as its lodgings.
The reunion will take place on September 22 between 11am and 5pm. The RCH Brewery has even brewed an extra special commemorative beer called the Western Apprentice that will be available throughout the day.
“There will be quite a lot of bottles I hope,” said Andy.
As well as appreciating the ales, the visitors will also be treated to historic displays of artefacts, including test pieces, magazine racks and the actual tools they used. Numerous photos of each year group dating from 1962-1986 are also on display and form part of the exclusive posters sponsored by local railway groups.
Each display is guaranteed to bring back fond memories of the railway apprenticeship training scheme.
Andy said: “The railway apprenticeship was a good thing to have. It made it easier to go on to other jobs as it was highly regarded by many employers.”
The ex-apprentices are encouraged to bring any pictures and articles from their time at the school so they may be scanned in to the archives. Friends and family are welcome, too.
For more information, join the Swindon Apprentice Facebook group or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For queries regarding photos and memorabilia, contact Chris on 07789 514310, or Colin on 07850 666196