Virus control on the GWR (from an FNRM member who was there at the time)



As we battle another infectious disease, 90 years ago, building work was underway on the Great Western Railway’s new carriage and vehicle disinfecting plant. Built at Swindon Works next to 24 Shop, this was a brick building containing an 85 feet long airtight cylinder into which the vehicle was pushed and the airtight door closed and sealed. The massive airtight door and sealing ring were machined in the millwrights’ G Shop at Swindon. Once sealed, the plant could create a vacuum of 28 inches with steam pipes raising the temperature to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This was thought to kill all vermin, weevils, cockroaches etc after six hours. If a coach was thought to have come into contact with an infectious disease, formaldehyde gas was pumped into the cylinder when the vacuum had been destroyed. The plant was known as the "Bug House" to Swindon's workers. The inspiration was believed to have been a German carriage disinfecting plant built before the Great War used to disinfect carriages which had been into Russian territory. Station instructions required that coaches to be disinfected had to be placed in an