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Swindon Social History

This varied collection includes material relating to everyday life in Swindon and the rest of the UK. There are large collections of photography, crested china and locally produced bottles. There is material associated with Swindon stores and businesses, including McIlroys, Morse’s, Garrards and Pressed Steel. This collection also includes the Local Art collection – paintings, drawings and prints showing scenes of Swindon and the surrounding area, or by artists from Swindon and the surrounding area.

Swindon fire engine


The Social History Collection includes the following smaller collections:


This collection includes British and non-British coins and bank notes, along with medals, badges and tokens with a connection to Swindon.


A large collection including photographic prints, postcards, cabinet cards, negatives (including plate glass negatives), Magic Lantern slides and modern slides. It includes the following named photographic collections.

  • The Woodfield Studio Collection of plate glass negatives, c.1900-1920
  • The Fred Stevens Postcard Collection, c.1900-1985
  • The Albert Beaney Collection, c.1950-60s
  • The Eric Alman Slide Collection, various dates
  • The Swindon Camera Club Photographic Collections, 1960s-1980s
  • The Harris Collection, various dates
  • The postcard collection

Local art

The Whatley Family from the Woodfield Studio Photographic Collection


This collection includes a large number of 19th century paintings depicting Swindon and donated by James ‘Raggy’ Powell, or paintings by artists from Swindon and the surrounding area. The collection also includes historic prints and paintings without a Swindon connection by artists including William Hogarth and John Collier, donated by local collectors.

Ceramics and glassware

This includes large collections of local ginger beer bottles, ceramic beer bottles and demi johns, and a large collection of crested china.

Paper documents

This comprises a large and varied collection of accounts, accessioned archives, correspondence, publicity material, postcards and other paper collections. It includes the Mary Slade Collection of World War I postcards sent by Prisoners of War.

Industrial and commercial

A varied collection of material from Swindon shops and factories, including the Garrard Collection, which is made up of turntables, clocks, parts and accessories and publicity material.

The Social history Collection also includes maps and plans, costume and textiles, domestic, industrial and personal items, as well as books and printing blocks.

A selection of the local art collection can be viewed on the Art UK website.