King Amanullah at Swindon railway works

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King Amanullah toured the Great Western Railway’s Swindon works on the afternoon of 21 March 1928.

Railway Gazette reported how the “astute and active potentate”, “fresh from an aerial flight over London“, went to London Paddington station. Here he was received by the “Mayor of Paddington and some of his official brethren, all bravely attired”. However “To the great disappointment of many, the King’s beautiful consort was not of the party: it was understood that the Royal lady was too fatigued to bear the journey.”1

The Journey of Their Majesties the
King and Queen of Afghanistan
From Paddington to Swindon
On Wednesday, March 21st, 1928.2

The King left Paddington at 13.30, hauled by GWR locomotive No. 6000 King George V. Luncheon was served during the journey, and the King arrived at Swindon carriage works at 14:55. His Majesty “spent a crowded hour of his glorious sight-seeing life in the workshops”. He departed from the locomotive works at 16:15, arriving back at London at 17:45.

To mark the occasion the GWR produced a Persian language commemorative booklet, containing an illustrated history of Swindon works and portraits of the company’s Chairman, Deputy Chairman, General Manager and Chief Mechanical Engineer.

King Amanullah, “with his customary keenness and untiring energy, manifested the liveliest interest in everything he saw”, and Chief Mechanical Engineer CB Collett was kept busy answering questions through an interpreter.

The King inspected the footplate of newly-built locomotive 6005 King Charles II. At the close of the tour, a “large number of workpeople” gave “the distinguished visitor three hearty cheers, which seemed to please him”.

Royalty. Amir of Afghanistan Amanullah Khan visits England. The Amir and his entourage visit a railroad engine factory. Dark but interesting footage. The group watches a worker using a gun to spray paint or some sealant on a railroad freight car; the man wears a mask to protect himself from chemicals. The men walk by a locomotive rotating on a turntable outside factory. Interior: they walk through large space w/ many sets of train wheels lined up. Heavy machinery moving another set of wheels overhead. Next; they gather around a finished locomotive. Exterior again;the group walking along beside train. Entering train coach. This visit is probably from 1921 [sic – this should almost certainly be 1928 as listed by the British Film Institute]; when A.K. signed a treaty w/ Great Britain.

Railway Gazette commented “there are no railways at present in Afghanistan, and it is said that there will not be until Afghanistan herself can build them.”

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  1. Afghan King’s visit to Swindon works, Railway Gazette, 1928-03-23, p438. Includes a copy of the timetable, in English and Persian.
  2. King of Afghanistan’s visit to Swindon works, G.W.R. on March 21. Time-table of Royal Train in English and Persian, The Railway Magazine, May 1928, p410

3 thoughts on “King Amanullah at Swindon railway works

  1. Dear admin.

    Thanks for a wonderful piece of historical document related to King Ammanullah Khan. How can I get the full travell schedule of his tour.


    M. Jafari

      1. I have in my possession original copies of the programme for the visit of THEIR MAJESTIES THE KING AND QUEEN OF AFGHANISTAN,the TIMETABLE of the JOURNEY and the MENU for luncheon served on the journey which took place on WEDNESDAY,MARCH 21ST.1928. Are these of any interest?

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