Steam reopens today - but visitors will need to book a time slot in advance.

Slots will be available every half hour but people can stay as long as they want after they arrive. Face masks must be worn unless exemptions apply, hand-sanitiser stations and a one-way system will be set up, and enhanced cleaning will be carried out daily.

Overall visitor numbers will be limited each day.

In preparation for the reopening, the museum achieved the UK-recognised Good to Go certification, operated by Visit England and developed in partnership with Tourism Northern Ireland, Visit Scotland and Visit Wales.

Manager Frances Yeo said: "I am delighted that we are reopening Steam to the public on September 17. The staff have worked so hard to implement a range of measures to aid social distancing and maintain cleanliness within the museum.

“We are looking forward to welcoming visitors back to Steam and sharing the incredible history of the Great Western Railway.”

The shop will be open, too, but the museum’s Platform One Café will remain closed for now.

Instead, the museum has set aside space for visitors to enjoy their own picnic lunches.

Younger visitors can enjoy an interactive train-driving simulator, family-friendly trails, and a new activity book to purchase at £4.95. Initially, only card payments will be accepted.

Two new exhibitions for 2020 will explore GWR services. ‘Flying High’ glides through the history of railway aviation. ‘On the Buses’ takes a look at the GWR’s introduction of bus services in 1903 and uncovers the opportunities this presented for rail passengers to visit new and remote holiday destinations.

Coun Dale Heenan, Swindon Borough Council’s cabinet member for the town centre, culture and heritage, said: “I am very pleased the Steam Museum is finally reopening this week.

“Staff are excited to start welcoming visitors back and have been working hard to put new measures in place, in line with government guidance. Families can now safely enjoy STEAM, and two new exhibitions, so please remember to pre-book your tickets.”

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