Didcot Railway Centre
GWS Logo
Didcot Railway Centre
Home of the Great Western Society


Page last updated:
Loco Cleaning
Carriage and Wagon Work
Fitting the oil pipes in 
the crankcase of Diesel Railcar No. 22
My Turn to Drive

Latest News

The Winning Plate

Thames Valley Railways

As part of an event on Sunday 26 April, when residents of the OX11 postcode area around Didcot were given free entry to the railway centre, we held a raffle for a unique plate painted by local artist Charlie Davies, depicting the three Didcot Power Station cooling towers which were demolished in July last year.

The plate was kindly donated by the artist and the 'No Two Things' shop in the town, with all proceeds going to the railway centre.

The winner was Martin Parr, seen here holding Isaac Parr, with the Mayor of Didcot, Scott Wilgrove, presenting the plate.


Six Thames Valley Railways discount vouchers

Thames Valley Railways

Didcot Railway Centre has again teamed up with:

to offer visitors discounts on future visits.

All the attractions in the scheme give every visitor a £2 discount voucher that can be used for a return visit or to visit any of the other participants.  The even better news is that the discounts continue. When visitors pay their admission charge on their next visit to any of the six attractions, and redeem their voucher or vouchers, each visitor will be given another £2 discount voucher, making this a self-perpetuating offer. The other unusual thing about this promotion is that the offer is transferable.  So if visitors are unable to use the vouchers, they can give them to friends or other family members to use.

There are a small number of exclusion dates for each railway when the vouchers cannot be used.  Otherwise, the discounts are available until 22 November 2015.

  1. The offer is transferable. If you can’t use it please pass it to someone who can!
  2. This offer is not usable in conjunction with any other promotion, discount or offer.
  3. Only one voucher can be used for one ticket.
  4. There is no cash alternative and the voucher is not for re-sale.
  5. The voucher has no cash value.
  6. Photocopies will not be accepted
  7. The attractions have the right to refuse admission.
  8. The offer is valid between 14 March and 22 November 2015.
  9. In the case of Didcot Railway Centre the following dates are excluded from this offer: 2/3/4 and
    23/24/25 May, 7 June and 3/4 October.
  10. In the case of STEAM-Museum of the Great Western Railway the following dates are excluded from
    this offer: 12/13 Sept, 3/4 Oct and 5/6 Dec and any other special day or evening events.
  11. In the case of Swindon and Cricklade Railway the following are excluded from this offer: 8/9 August,
    12/13 September, 30/31 October and all Murder Mystery and Moonraker dining trains.
  12. In the case of Chinnor Railway the offer is NOT valid on ANY EVENING SPECIALS.
  13. In the case of Cholsey and Wallingford Railway the vouchers are redeemable only on
    scheduled services.

Visitors are advised to check opening times on attraction websites while planning their visit.

This is the fourth year of this promotion and the number of railways involved has doubled from three to six over that time.

Free Day Out for Local Families

Visitors outside the Refreshment Rooms

On Sunday 26 April 2015 Didcot Railway Centre will once again open its doors to welcome all Didcot residents absolutely free of charge. Free entrance will be granted to anyone who provides evidence they live at an address with an OX11 postcode.

This is a fantastic opportunity for local people to visit the centre and see the work that goes on there. Whether your interest is local history, the wonderful steam and diesel engines or just a fun day out Didcot Railway Centre has something for every one. We are always looking for new volunteers, so if you fancy helping out in the future, please chat to us.

On the day there will be opportunities to ride on the trains behind heritage diesels and see the steam engines in the engine shed. For younger members of the family the education centre will be organizing a colouring competition and story time and children’s entertainers will be on site - so bring the family and join in the fun.

The Mayor of Didcot, Councillor Scott Wilgrove, will be attending, and raffle tickets to win a beautiful glass plate will be on sale. The plate has been painted by local artist Charlie Davies and depicts the power station in all its glory! The plate was kindly donated by the artist and No Two Things and all proceeds will go direct to the Railway Centre. There will be a range of real ales and soft drinks on sale, the restaurant provides a good range of reasonably priced food and drink; or if it is a sunny day you can bring a picnic. So come rain or shine you can make the most of your day with us.

A Great Western Themed Gala

1450 at Arley on the Severn Valley Railway

In commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the closure of Didcot Engine Shed the Mayday weekend gala event (2-4 May) will feature visiting GWR locomotives, as well as seeing our own home fleet in action and the relaunch of Prairie Tank No. 4144 after overhaul.

The visitors will be Pannier Tank No. 1501 (courtesy of 1501 Pannier Tank Association) and 1450 (courtesy of Push Pull ltd) both with thanks to the Severn Valley Railway.

Other attractions include:

Didcot visits Model Railway Shows

Didcot Railway Centre stand with Gerry Norris

Gerry Norris, a member of the Didcot Railway Centre Education Team, regularly takes a railway centre information stand to Model Railway Exhibitions. If you are going along to any of the following, please do say hello.

Bookings for Didcot Railway Centre display stand for 2015

3/4 January Scout Rail - Kidlington
14 February Newbury Model Railway Exhibition
21 February Kenavon Railway Society - Reading
28 February Abingdon Model Railway Exhibition
14 March Modrail 2015 - Steam, Swindon
9 May Loddon Vale Model Railway Club - Arborfield
4 July Beaconsfield Model Railway Exhibition
12/13 September Swindon Railway Festival 2015 - Steam, Swindon
26 September Earley Model Railway Exhibition
31 October Abingdon Model Railway Exhibition - Didcot
November White House Model Railway Exhibition - Hampton, Middlesex

The Great Western Society is not responsible for the content of external web sites.

4144 Steams Again


On Wednesday18 February 2-6-2T No 4144 had her boiler inspected in steam by the insurance company and we're pleased to report that all went well.

The restoration team then took her onto the main demonstration line for a bit of exercise in the late afternoon sunshine, before returning to the lifting shop to complete the final jobs in the loco's restoration.

Hopefully, it should not be long now before this lovely locomotive is completed, finish painted and running passenger trains at Didcot Railway Centre once more.

Starlight Wish of a Lifetime at Didcot Railway Centre

Daniel Bainbridge

Didcot Railway Centre was proud to help Starlight Children’s Foundation grant Daniel Bainbridge’s wish of a lifetime last Sunday. Starlight Children’s Foundation is the UK’s leading wish granting charity for children and young people with serious and terminal illness.

Ten year old Daniel from Abingdon was diagnosed shortly after birth with Neurofibromatosis, a genetic disease that causes tumours to grow along the nerves. Late in 2012, Daniel was also sadly diagnosed with an Optic Pathway Glioma; a type of slow growing brain tumour. Since then, Daniel has undergone intense chemotherapy.

Despite all these challenges, Daniel has remained positive, often cheering up other children on his ward. Daniel’s mother, Julia, wrote to Starlight, to ask them to help grant Daniel’s wish to be a train driver.

The Foundation contacted Didcot Railway Centre, and plans were put in place for Daniel to have a footplate ride on a steam engine, speak to a train driver about what it’s like to drive a train and explore the engine shed.

Daniel was shown around the railway centre by the Mayor of Didcot, Councillor Scott Wilgrove, who also loaned Daniel his chain of office!

Neil Swan, CEO of Starlight Children’s Foundation, said “We are delighted to be granting Daniel's wish-of-lifetime this weekend and to be creating precious memories for his family to cherish. The positive focus that a Starlight wish brings really does have a beneficial effect and helps to restore the fun and magic of childhood. We are extremely grateful to Didcot Railway Centre for their assistance in helping make Daniel's wish come true.

Details of the Starlight Children’s Foundation can be found on their website.

The Great Western Society is not responsible for the content of external web sites.

A Valentine's Day Boost to Castle Restoration

Cheque Presentation
Members of the 'Pendennis Castle' team, standing left to right, Keith Turfrey, Richard Croucher, Dudley Allewey, Kevin Paul (holding cheque), Clive Sparling, Angus Pottinger, Jim Secchi, Drew Fermor (holding cheque) and Mike Bodsworth. On the locomotive's chassis are left to right Andrew Vaughan, Charlie McCarthy and Ben Shakeshaft.

On Saturday 14 February, during a book signing to launch the Haynes Owner's Workshop Manual for the GWR/BR (WR) Castle class, a cheque for £2,500 was presented by Kevin Paul, Sales Manager of Haynes Publishing, to Drew Fermor, the book's author who is also the Project Manager for restoration of 4079 ‘Pendennis Castle’ at Didcot Railway Centre.

Drew said “Drew said: "My long-suffering and very supportive partner affectionately refers to Pendennis Castle as ‘the other woman'! It is appropriate, therefore that the generous gift to the 'other woman' was presented on Valentine's Day. This money will go into the restoration fund for 'Pendennis Castle'. It represents the photograph budget for the book, thanks to the generosity of the photographers whose work is published in it and who all agreed to donate their reproduction fees to the locomotive's fund”.

Book Signings - 14 & 22 February

Book Signings

On Saturday 14 February the author of the new Haynes Castle Class Manual, Drew Fermor, will be at Didcot Railway Centre to sign copies of the book and talk about his work restoring the iconic locomotives.

Drew is the project manager for the restoration and mainline running of No 4079 Pendennis Castle at Didcot Railway Centre. He says:

When the Castles were built after World War I they proved an instant hit, and were the pinnacle of engineering at both a power and efficiency level. Their reign was short lived but they captured my heart and that of thousands of other enthusiasts. I have been involved in a torrid affair with one of them for nearly ten years now. My long-suffering and very supportive partner affectionately refers to Pendennis Castle as ‘the other woman! In that time I have become project manager and the obsession has continued. I am thrilled to be able to share this passion with readers through the book, and look forward to meeting fellow enthusiasts and signing copies at the event.

On Sunday 22 February the author of a new book ‘What the Railways Did For Us’, Stuart Hylton, will be at Didcot Railway Centre to sign copies of the book.

Stuart is a member of the Education Team at Didcot Railway Centre. He says:

It is hard, from a distance of nearly two centuries, to imagine the impact the coming of the railways must have had at the start of the nineteenth century. Their physical impact was dramatic enough – great mechanical horses, breathing fire and smoke and drawing impossibly heavy trains at unimaginable speeds, across a landscape transformed by the embankments and cuttings, viaducts and tunnels which their passage demanded. However, they would also transform the way war was conducted and peace was maintained; prove to be one of the drivers of the dramatic industrial growth of the nineteenth century; create opportunities for many to become enormously wealthy, but impoverish many more, who invested unwisely; cause the state to think again about the policy of laissez-faire that was its default position; transform our leisure; radically re-shape our towns and cities and change our very notions of time and how we measured it.

How Many Mayors ... ?

Mayors and Council Leaders

On Saturday 10 January the Mayor of Didcot, Cllr Scott Wilgrove, hosted an event for mayors of local towns and other council leaders to visit Didcot Railway Centre. The group travelled in a 102-year-old railway carriage, No 92, and took turns to ride on the footplate of 75-year-old pannier tank locomotive No 3650 that was hauling their train.

In this photograph of the group with 3650, those wearing chains of office in the front row are, right to left: Cllr Scott Wilgrove, Mayor of Didcot; Penny Wilgrove, Mayoress of Didcot; Cllr Anne Purse, Leader of Oxfordshire County Council; Cllr Helen Pighills, Deputy Mayor of Abingdon-on-Thames; Cllr Jane Titchener, Mayor of Wallingford; Mark Savery, Mayor of Wallingford's Consort; Cllr Margaret Turner, Deputy Leader of South Oxfordshire District Council; Michael Turner, Margaret Turner's Consort; Cllr Des Healy, Deputy Mayor of Didcot; Cllr Jeannette Matelot-Green, Mayor of Thame.

The group also had a tour of the carriage works and of the locomotive works to see restoration projects in progress.


Recreating the golden age of the Great Western Railway