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Didcot Railway Centre
Home of the Great Western Society


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

Latest News

Queen’s Award For Voluntary Service Given To Didcot Railway Centre

The Queen's Award for Voluntary Service

The Great Western Society at Didcot Railway Centre is proud to announce that they have been granted the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service. This is in recognition of the voluntary work that has taken place at Didcot Railway Centre for over 50 years, and could be deemed particularly apt in this, their 50th anniversary year.

The wide ranging skills of the volunteers, past and present, can be seen in how the Centre has developed, from a railway depot, into a globally recognised centre of excellence in railway preservation. The work includes the restoration of steam locomotives, historic carriages and wagons, and buildings sourced from many outposts of the original Great Western Railway. The Centre now has an unmatched collection of locomotives, rolling stock, and small and large artefacts of railwayana from a single railway company.

Centre manager, Roger Orchard said, “We feel hugely honoured to have been given this award, especially in our 50th anniversary year. We hope this award will stimulate more volunteers to come to the Centre and see the many different volunteering roles we are able to offer people of all ages and abilities.”

You can find out more about the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service on the www.gov.uk website.

When is a Shed Notashed?

Steam Railmotor No.93 at the Transfer Shed

The company that produced ‘Trainspotting Live’ from Didcot last year were so impressed with our Transfer Shed that they have nominated it for the Shed of the Year award.

Didcot Railway Centre Transfer Shed has been nominated in the ‘notashed’ category for Channel 4's program ‘Amazing Spaces Shed of the Year’. However to win this unusual accolade we need your votes!

So please click to register your vote and who knows we may achieve world wide fame for this award! The competition is sponsored by Cuprinol - we may even get some to splash on the Shed itself.

Transfer sheds date back to Brunel's broad gauge railway, when it was necessary to manually transfer goods from trains of one gauge to trains of another.

The shed has a central platform, with a standard gauge line on one side and a broad gauge one on the other, to make this transfer as easy as possible. The Transfer Shed at Didcot was moved from what is now the station car park to form the northern terminus of the Branch Line.

National Railway Museum’s Flying Scotsman to visit Didcot Railway Centre

Flying Scotsman at the NRM

Didcot Railway Centre is pleased to announce the visit of the famous locomotive, 60103 ‘Flying Scotsman’.

Considered by many to be the most famous locomotive in the world, it will be at Didcot Railway Centre during the three days of the August bank holiday (26/27/28 August).

The appearance of ‘Flying Scotsman’ will provide people in Didcot and surrounding areas, a chance to enjoy this renowned locomotive, for the first time since 2005, when the locomotive last visited the centre, just before being taken out of service. Admission will be by ticket only, bought in advance via this website. There will be no walk in/pay at the gate admissions.

Flying Scotsman on the turntable at Didcot
Flying Scotsman on the turntable during its last visit to
Didcot Railway Centre

Railway Centre Manager, Roger Orchard said: “We are delighted to have been chosen by the National Railway Museum to show off their most famous locomotive in our living steam railway museum. Passengers will be able to ride behind ‘Flying Scotsman’ in beautifully restored carriages from the 1930s and there will be frequent trips to watch and photograph the train as it goes by. We are also working with our neighbours in the community to ensure they are able to share in this experience, and will be working to support local businesses. We look forward to welcoming ‘Flying Scotsman’ to Didcot again and to further visits in the future.”

Jim Lowe, Head of Operations at the National Railway Museum, said: “Following the successful restoration of the ‘Flying Scotsman’, we’re delighted to be able to give as many people as possible the opportunity to see this magnificent locomotive in person. Embarking on a national tour, we’re visiting Wales, the South and South West of England and will be returning to Didcot over the August Bank Holiday weekend for the first time since the engine was restored. We’re excited to be back and expect the crowds to be out in force once again.”

Interest in ‘Flying Scotsman’ will be extremely high and those wishing to view it are urged to do so from a safe vantage point. Spectators must not venture onto the railway under any circumstances.

Tickets for 'Flying Scotsman' at Didcot Railway Centre over August Bank Holiday weekend will be available soon. If you'd like to be among the first to be notified of tickets being available, please subscribe to our newsletter, or register with Ticketmaster.

Tickets MUST be purchased in advance for this event. No tickets will be available for purchase on the day.

Tim Dunn to Open New ‘Action Stations’ Exhibition - Saturday 11 February

Action Stations

Over the years, Didcot Railway Centre has been used more than 100 times for main stream films, documentaries, commercial advertising or music videos. With that thought in mind, the Centre management has long pondered how best to showcase some of the ways Didcot has been so featured.

In 2016, the Centre was offered the sponsored help of Reading University intern student, Marylyn Molisso., and the decision was made to let Marylyn develop the theme accordingly, once the working title of ‘Action Stations’ was chosen.

Marylyn then spent 10 weeks, working on Action Stations, the second week of which, coincided with the BBC’s three live transmissions of ‘Trainspotting Live’; one of the 10 chosen Action Station banners. During the 10 weeks, Marylyn researched through the many films and productions made at the Centre, before narrowing the choice down to the 10 most interesting or relevant productions.

The 10 Action Stations banners were jointly sponsored by donations from Didcot Rotary Club, Didcot Chamber of Commerce members, and from the Flourish Project.

Action Stations is a series of 10 pop-up banners that will be placed around the Centre to show how (and where) the Centre has been used in film and television productions, including Trainspotting Live. It is hoped it will help broaden the Centre’s appeal to a wider audience. Ann Middleton, Commercial Manager, said, “Film tourism is an exciting new development for us. We are delighted to launch Action Stations to show how Didcot Railway Centre has featured in film and television over the years.

The new exhibition is to be officially opened on Saturday 11 February, at around 11:30, by Tim Dunn, one of the four presenters of Trainspotting Live. Marylyn will also be present for the occasion.

Volunteer Reunion - Saturday 29 April

As part of the Society celebrating 50 years at Didcot there will be an informal volunteers reunion on Saturday 29 April 2017 for all volunteers past and present. At the moment it is planned to have a BBQ and the bar open as a focal point for people to meet up with others, chat or just use as a base to visit parts of the site that are new, have changed or just you haven't been to for a while. If you know of volunteers that please feel free to pass details of the reunion on to them. If you wish to bring pictures from the past feel free as I am sure there will be many memories for people in those pictures, we will provide a board where you can leave copies if you wish.

Free Entry Weekends in January 2017

Free Admission

On the remaining weekends until the end of January we are offering free entry to Didcot Railway Centre. The gates will be open from 10.30 am until 3.30 pm. We will welcome a donation if you wish to leave one, and our shop and refreshment room will be open as normal.

Please be aware that the Great Western Trust Museum is closed for refurbishment at present and will re-open on 11 February, which will also be the next day on which passenger trains are in operation.

The Great Western Railway’s history is encapsulated in Didcot Railway Centre’s unique collection of buildings, engines, carriages, wagons and other artefacts displayed in over 20 acres alongside Didcot Parkway Station. From Brunel’s Broad Gauge to the modern trains running past, the Centre is home to over 180 years of railway and social history.

Little Engineers' Workshops - Coal

Little Engineers

On Sunday 22 January Didcot Railway Centre will be running a Little Engineers' Pre-School Workshop, for children aged 3-6 years. The event is entitled 'Coal'. The workshops will be held at 11:30am, 12:30pm, 1:30pm and 2:30pm in the Science, Learning and Railways carriages, and in between the workshops there will be visits to the Coal Stage for participants.

The Small Print:

Great Western Society member awarded BEM

Viv Cooper

Our warmest congratulations go to Viv Cooper who has been awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Year's Honours List.

The Official Listing reads ‘Vivien Alma, Mrs COOPER - Volunteer, Great Western Society, at Didcot Railway Centre. For services to Railway Heritage. (Maidenhead, Berkshire)’

Joining the Great Western Society in her teens, 53 years ago, Viv quickly became involved with administration, which has continued to the present day. The first locomotives and coaches purchased, or cared for on behalf of fellow members, were based at Totnes in Devon. Here Viv would also help with cleaning the locomotives as well as promoting the Society at open days, on sales stands and in other forms of publicity.

Once the Society moved to the Didcot Railway Centre, which is now its home, Viv, for some years, took on the duties of liaising with British Railways for open days and filmings plus arranging VIP entertaining. For many years her home telephone number was the Society's main point of contact.  Viv has covered most aspects of administration in the Society, including forty years of producing newsletters for members and latterly transferring them to digital format. Currently company secretary for the Society's rolling stock holding company, Viv is now gathering together the Great Western Society's own history. She has always felt part of a team to make the Great Western Society and Didcot Railway Centre successful and accepted the BEM on behalf of all the volunteers.

Married with three daughters and four grandchildren, Viv lives in Maidenhead, Berkshire.

The main photograph shows Viv in May 1964 with No 1466, just a couple of months after the Great Western Society had purchased its first locomotive, and apparently before health and safety had been dreamed of - The inset shows Viv on the same locomotive in less perilous pose in January 2017.

Mike Peart, one of original four 'schoolboys' founders of the Great Western Society adds his congratulations “Volunteering is obviously the secret of eternal youth! Well done Viv”.


Recreating the golden age of the Great Western Railway