'Jobs on the Line' opening titles
'Jobs on the Line'
Watch a fascinating BBC West documentary made in 1982 about the threat to the future of Swindon's Railway Works.
Swindon was once world-famous for its Railway Works. The Works were built by the Great Western Railway company in 1841, and over 120 glorious years many famous steam engines were built in Swindon under the auspices of Railway engineering legends such as Daniel Gooch and George Churchward.
At the turn of the 20th Century, the Works were Swindon's major employer, but slowly as times changed The Works production output was decreased.
Protesting Rail workers in Swindon
Although Locomotive repairs and carriage and wagon work continued, the building of new locomotives was discontinued in 1962.
The Works finally closed in 1986 and on the site now exists the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet Village and its car parks, Botellinos Italian Restaurant (previously The Pattern Store Bar) and the Steam Museum.
Back in 1982 trouble was brewing at the still active railway works. On 2nd May, 3,000 workers at what by then was known as British Rail Engineering Limited marched through the streets of Swindon in protest against redundancies.
As many as 1,500 jobs were under threat and the apprentice training school was under threat.
Labour MP David Stoddart talks at a protest rally
The situation was so grave that the Labour Member of Parliament for Swindon, David Stoddart in a protest rally declared that: "This is not only railway's fight, this is Swindon's fight. Because what happens to the railways will affect the livelihoods and well-being of every other person in Swindon."
It is also worth noting that in 1982, the national unemployment figure was well over three million.
Broadcast on 30th July 1982 in the BBC West region, the 30 minute documentary entitled 'Jobs on the Line' detailed this highly significant period in Swindon history.
During the programme, many people on both sides of the fence are interviewed - workers, union officials, local politicians and management staff.
Swindon's Brunel Centre in 1982
Also included is vintage footage from when The Works were in full production force, and this is compared with contemporary scenes of the bustling workshops and warehouses.
Another scene shows a special morning assembly on railways being conducted at Nythe Primary School in the town. There are also numerous shots of areas in and around the town of the time including the Brunel Plaza, the Railway Village and Covingham.
It's a fascinating insight into a period in Swindon's industrial history fraught with uncertainty, and which ultimately led to the closure of the Railway Works four years later.
'Jobs on the Line' will appeal to anyone with an interest in Swindon's history or who has an affinity or connection with the town's historic Railway Works.
last updated: 10/05/2008 at 11:15
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Son of Swindon