Science Museum at Wroughton

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The Science Museum at Wroughton
Science Museum entrance.jpg
The unimposing entrance to the large site
Established 1979
Location Wroughton, near Swindon, Wiltshire, England
Type Science museum
Director Ian Blatchford
Science Museum Group

The Science Museum at Wroughton, near Swindon, England, contains the large-object store of the Science Museum and the Science Museum Library & Archives. It is part of the Science Museum Group.[1]


The Science Museum took ownership of the 545 acre former RAF Wroughton airfield in 1979, to be used as a storage facility for the largest objects of the Science Museum. A collection of approximately 26,000 objects is currently kept in six of the hangars, from the first hovercraft to MRI scanners, and computers to (de-activated) nuclear missiles. The store is particularly notable for its extensive collection of vintage aircraft, road transport vehicles, agricultural machinery and industrial collections.

In 2016 the Science Museum at Wroughton started to be featured in The Grand Tour, a motoring entertainment show. The show's three ex 'Top Gear' hosts use some of the roads surrounding the museum buildings as a vehicle test track each week.


The object collections at Wroughton are not normally open to the public, however "research" visits to see specific objects in store can be booked by application. In the past there were regular open days when the public could view the collections.[2]

Science Museum Library and Archives[edit]

The Science Museum Library & Archives collections are part of the Science Museum in London. Its holdings include original scientific, technical and medical works from the last 500 years. The Library is free to use and open to the public but appointments to visit have to be booked in advance. It is open on Fridays 10.00 - 17.00.

History of the Library & Archives[edit]

The Science Museum Library was founded in 1883 as the Science Library of the South Kensington Museum. It was formed of collections from the South Kensington Educational Library and the library of the Museum of Practical Geology. In 1907 it moved to the Royal College of Science building. When the Science Museum gained its independence in 1909, the Science Library became its responsibility.[3]

In 1992 the Library joined with Imperial College London to form the Imperial College & Science Museum Libraries. Due to the increasing demand for space in South Kensington, about 85% of the collections and all of the archives moved to a specially adapted library building at Wroughton, Swindon in 2007. The London Library closed in February 2014 and all of its collections were moved to the Library in Wroughton [4]

The collections[edit]

The printed collections include rare books and first editions, journals from the 16th to the 20th centuries, Trade Literature, exhibition catalogues, British patents from 1617 - 1992 as well as over 85,000 books focussing on the history and social aspects of science, technology and medicine

The named archive collections include hold original archives of some of the most famous and influential individuals and companies in the fields of science, medicine, engineering and industry. These include personal papers, photographs, glass plate negatives, company records, technical drawings and other original manuscripts from famous figures and organisations such as the engineering drawings of Charles Babbage and Barnes Wallis as well as papers relating to Donald Campbell and Hooper's car building firm.

The MS archives are smaller collections of well over two thousand items, ranging in size from single items such as letters and notebooks to small collections comprising a number of items, which provide snapshots of the lives of those who created them. The material provides a wide ranging source of subject information across the science, design and technology disciplines, as well as insights into the day-to-day lives of individuals and families [5]

The catalogue[edit]

The archive collection has an online catalogue and the library has an online catalogue

A Douglas DC3 at the museum.
A Ford Edsel at the museum.

Selected large objects at Wroughton[edit]

The Wood Press[edit]

The largest object at Wroughton is thought to be the Wood Press, part of the last working printing press in Fleet Street. The press was acquired in 2001 and weighs 140 tonnes. It is the size of two small houses.[6]

Important works in the Library and Archives[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Science Museum Swindon: Unofficial Museum Guide". Retrieved 30 August 2011. 
  2. ^ "Britain: Days of discovery". Telegraph. 2005-07-09. Retrieved 2016-09-10. 
  3. ^ Wyatt, Nicholas (2010). Science for the Nation. Palgrave-Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-23009-5. 
  4. ^ "About Us : Access and registration". Retrieved 2016-09-10. 
  5. ^ "Dana Research Centre and Library". Retrieved 2016-09-10. 
  6. ^ Big Object storage. 2011. Retrieved 20 September 2011.
  7. ^ "The subversive encyclopedia." by John Underwood in Science Museum Library & Archives Newsletter, Spring/Summer 2010.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°30′44.1″N 1°48′46″W / 51.512250°N 1.81278°W / 51.512250; -1.81278