Didcot Railway Centre boasts one of the finest collections of Great Western Railway steam locomotives, coaches, wagons and buildings in the country.
The 23 acre Centre is based around the original engine shed built in 1932 and has been developed to show many aspects of GWR history. Over the last forty years it has been used for numerous films, television programmes, photo sessions and commercials.
The Centre still has the original engine shed complete with coal stage, water columns and turntable. The engine shed has four ‘roads’ with a steel structured roof and smoke stacks. The shed has been used in filmings such as ‘Incredible Sarah’, Rowntrees ‘Secret’ TV commercial and episodes of ‘Inspector Morse’. It has been disguised as main line train termini representing several different countries.
The steam locomotives range from the Great Western’s express passenger engines such as ‘Castles’, ‘Halls’ and ‘Manors’ to the smaller tank engines once used to operate the many branch lines around the network.
Coaches range from luxurious Super Saloons built to convey First Class passengers arriving at Plymouth from trans-Atlantic liners, complete with upholstered armchairs, carpeted floors and tables, a VIP Special Saloon once used by the Royal Family which is a self contained coach with its own dining room/ board room lounge and kitchen, to ordinary open and corridor passenger coaches. The majority of the coaches are in the traditional chocolate and cream livery of the GWR but two have been painted in wartime economy maroon livery.
The transfer shed at the end of the branch line is a wooden structure used to tranship goods from standard to broad gauge in the early days of steam. The station has an island platform with both standard gauge and the broad gauge track that Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed for the original Great Western Railway in the 1830s. A reproduction of the broad gauge locomotive Fire Fly dating from 1840 has been built so we can recreate train travel as it was over 150 years ago! The location was used in the filming of the Channel 4 series ‘The Camomile Lawn’ and more recently ‘Carries War’ and ‘The Elephant Man’. The station is ideal for platform shots and period settings and has been used on many occasions as ‘Paddington Station’
There are several scenes in various locations around the Centre in the BBC television documentary ‘Beyond Narnia’, the life of C.S.Lewis, shown in January 2006.
The two signal boxes at the Centre show exactly how the signalman worked and spent his leisure time. Radstock Box is at the end of the branch line platform and is set with level crossing gates and cobblestones. Frome North Signal Cabin is set in the broad gauge period.
The main running line at the Centre is half a mile long with a station platform at either end. The platform at the entrance to the Centre is an austere concrete platform which was originally erected by the GWR at Eynsham in World War II. It has a typical branch line waiting room with an open coal fire. This platform has been used by the Royal Mail to launch a set of ‘Steam Stamps’ and by weather girl Louise Lear broadcasting live for BBC Breakfast.
The other line is a typical branch line recreated using buildings and structures from around the Great Western Railway network. The line won a first class award for its authenticity and has been used to film Beverley Craven’s ‘Promise Me’ video and British Home Stores stockings promotional advertisement.
The Centre’s Great Western Trust Museum houses thousands of artefacts once used by the GWR. The collection contains glass and silverware from hotels and on train dining, children’s jigsaws and Hornby tinplate trainsets as well as a typical Station Master’s Office. BBC Collecting Now and Disney Time have filmed in the Museum.
Didcot Railway Centre has a collection of posters, luggage, trolleys and other props which can be hired for film and TV shoots.
The Staff Refreshment Room is available to crews to use as a base. It has a washroom and toilets, hanging space for wardrobe, power points and is suitable for makeup and wardrobe departments to use. The Public Restaurant can be used for breakfast, lunch, snacks, tea and coffee and we would be happy to quote to cater for your production.
Didcot Railway Centre is adjacent to Didcot Parkway main line station situated about halfway between London and Bristol. Access is via the railway subway and a short flight of steps. Arrangements are made for parking and assistance with the delivery of equipment. On site both rail and footpath vehicles are available for use.
For further information, or to make a site visit, please contact Didcot Railway Centre, Didcot, Oxfordshire, OX11 7NJ. Telephone 01235-817200 or e-mail us.
More information about Filming at Didcot Railway Centre is available (935kb .pdf file).