There are always plenty of interesting projects going on at Didcot Railway Centre:
Here are links or information about just a few of our current projects:
Some of these projects have their own independently run web sites:
Download the County appeal form (Word format)
Download the Saint appeal form (Word format)
Download the 4709 appeal form (428 kb .pdf file)
The Great Western Society is not responsible for the content of external web sites.
Some other projects, without their own website, are detailed below:
Work has now started to construct a building for the Controlling the Trains exhibition, due to open in 2016. The exhibition will look at the history of train control centres from the Railway Policeman to the Thames Valley Signalling Centre, and will feature the 1930s Illuminated Panel from Bristol East and Swindon Panel from the 1960s as major exhibits. This project is being undertaken in conjunction with the Swindon Panel Society.
The Great Western Society is not responsible for the content of external web sites.
Get the Latest News on the Controlling the Trains exhibition (Updated July 2015)
The new Conservation Grade store and Reference Library (the Charles Gordon Stuart Annex) attached to the existing Museum Building is now structurally complete, but much fitting out work remains to be done. The building holds the paperwork, photographs and other delicate items, cared for by the Great Western Trust, in archival conditions and is therefore regarded as a high priority.
If you'd like to contribute to this exciting project, cheques sent to Didcot Railway Centre and made payable to ‘The Great Western Trust’ with ‘Library Fund Appeal’ on the back will be most gratefully received and appreciated.
Get the Latest News on the Charles Gordon Stuart Annex Project (Updated October 2014)
In April 1964 this little 14xx 0–4–2T became the first engine to be taken into preservation by the Great Western Society.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if 1466 could be overhauled in time to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Great Western Society in 2021?
Mechanically the engine is in reasonable condition, but it is known that a new backplate, firebox side plating and possibly a new boiler barrel will be needed. Until the locomotive is dismantled it cannot be certain exactly how much the final cost will be, but one estimate is around £150,000.
If you can help, contact: Chris Herridge, Great Western Society, Didcot Railway Centre, Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 7NJ. Tel: +44 (0) 1235 817200 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Download the 1466 appeal form (688 kb .pdf file)
The Great Western Society owns three of the eight Super Saloons introduced by the Great Western Railway to carry passengers from Plymouth to London who had disembarked from the Trans Atlantic liners. Two of these, 9112 Queen Mary and 9118 Princess Elizabeth, have been in regular use at Didcot whilst the third, 9113 Prince of Wales, has spent far too many years out of public view awaiting restoration.
Over the years visitors have been able to enjoy the graceful ambience of Queen Mary and Princess Elizabeth but both vehicles now need major refurbishment before their interiors can be enjoyed to the full again. The Wine & Dine facility which used to be a regular feature of events at Didcot until the end of the 1980s is still greatly missed and in answer to popular demand the Great Western Society would like to offer this service again.
At present we are concentrating on restoring 9113, Prince of Wales, which had been stripped down pending overhaul for many years. Having given the carriage a very careful and thorough assessment we know that restoration is within manageable proportions.
When 9113 is fit for traffic, efforts will turn to refurbishing 9112 and 9118, one at a time, so that there will always be two vehicles available. This will be a gradual process with the work spread over a number of years.
If you would like further information on the Project or feel that you could support the restoration of the Ocean Saloons by making a donation or regular monthly contributions, or by joining the regular working parties, please contact the project leader: Mick Howse at the Great Western Society, Didcot Railway Centre, Didcot, Oxfordshire, OX11 7NJ, England.
Tel +44 (0) 1235 817200 or e-mail email@example.com
Download the Super Saloons appeal form (Word format)
Your contribution, however small, will be greatly appreciated and bring forward the day when people can again sit in luxury in an Ocean Saloon and enjoy a meal behind a King or Castle class locomotive.
Get the Latest News on the Pendennis Castle Project (Updated October 2015)
The Castle Class 4-6-0 is one of the most celebrated locomotive types of the former Great Western Railway. The prototype, No.4073 “Caerphilly Castle” rolled out of Swindon Works in August 1923, the first of a series that remained in production right up to 1950.
No.4079 “Pendennis Castle” was the seventh of 171 Castles built and was completed at Swindon in February 1924.
Pendennis Castle's claim to fame dates from 1925 when the GWR lent the locomotive to the London & North Eastern Railway for trials against Sir Nigel Gresley's mighty new Pacifics exemplified by No.4472 “Flying Scotsman”. Working 16-coach trains on the East Coast main line from Kings Cross, the stalwart Castle covered itself in soot and glory, thoroughly out-performing its larger competitors. Its exploits were the talk of every schoolboy in Britain and the GWR rather cheekily sent “Pendennis Castle” to stand alongside “Flying Scotsman” at the 1925 British Empire Exhibition at Wembley with a notice proclaiming it to be the most powerful passenger express locomotive in Britain.
After withdrawal in 1964, “Pendennis Castle” was purchased for preservation by Mike Higson and appeared at one of the Great Western Society's first open days in 1965. It was soon sold to the Hon John Gretton and Sir William McAlpine and was based at Didcot just before the GWS established Didcot Railway Centre. In 1977 the locomotive was sold again, this time to Hamersley Iron - one of the largest iron ore producers in Australia - for use on excursion trains on the company's 240-mile ore-carrying railway in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
No.4079 left England on 29 May 1977. In Australia, she was looked after by the Pilbara Railways Historical Society, formed by Hamersley employees, and worked many excursion trains through the Chichester Ranges. A highlight of the Australian sojourn was a visit to Perth in 1989 to operate alongside her old rival “Flying Scotsman” as the climax of a tour during the country's bicentennial celebrations. However, vastly increasing traffic on the Hamersley railway combined with operational difficulties resulted in No.4079 being stored out of use for several years, her final steaming in Australia taking place in October 1994.
With prospects for an operational future in Australia looking uncertain, Hamersley Iron began to consider the options. The main concern was to find a new home that could offer a secure future, which would recognise the significance of its English heritage and provide a high degree of public accessibility. It was also important that the engine should not become a stand-alone exhibit, but should play its part in illustrating the wider picture of GWR locomotive development.
The decision to offer “Pendennis Castle” to the Great Western Society was made in the first days of 2000. In return, we agreed to arrange and pay for the repatriation, and to restore her to full main-line running condition.
The locomotive was formally presented to the Society by Hamersley Iron on 19 April. Following a 10-week voyage “Pendennis Castle” finally regained British soil on 8 July 2000, 23 years, 1 month and 8 days after she left. The cost of bringing the locomotive back to Britain had been met by generous donations from British enthusiasts and a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. “Pendennis Castle's” route was via the Pacific Rim, the Panama Canal, the Eastern Seaboard of the USA and across the Atlantic - the opposite way to her outward journey - making No.4079 the first 4-6-0 steam locomotive to circumnavigate the world, and only the second steam loco to do so after “Flying Scotsman”. There's no doubt that the repatriation of “Pendennis Castle” has warmed many hearts that were saddened when the engine left for Australia. Its contribution to the status of the Didcot collection is beyond question and future generations of preservationists will have good reason to remember the generosity of Hamersley Iron and Rio Tinto with gratitude.
Restoration is now in its final stages at Didcot. If you would like further details or feel that you could support its restoration, by making a regular donation or joining the regular working parties please contact: Richard Croucher, Great Western Society, Didcot Railway Centre, Didcot, Oxfordshire OX11 7NJ
Tel: +44 (0) 1235 817200 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Download the Pendennis Castle appeal form (Word format)
Get the Latest News on the Pendennis Castle Project (Updated May 2015)