Swindon was a small town until the coming of the railways. In 1835 the Great Western railway built a station in the town on its London to Bristol line. Six years later the company decided to build its locomotive works in the town. Swindon was also chosen as the junction of the Gloucester and Cheltenham line.
As Swindon was eighty miles from London, it was considered a good place for changing locomotives, in readiness for the steeply graded section of line that followed on its western route. It was also decided to build its new locomotive works at Swindon. By 1846 the works was completed and soon afterwards it produced the Great Western, the company's new locomotive designed by Daniel Gooch.