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

Centre Guide

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Dating Tickets
Chrissy Kinver reminds us of the Fishguard service
Admiring the tinplate collection

Great Western Trust Museum and Archive

The Great Western Trust

The Great Western Trust (GWT) (Registered Charity 289008) was established by the Great Western Society (GWS) in 1984 to own, administer, conserve and display the smaller artefacts and memorabilia of the GWR collection at Didcot Railway Centre. This deliberately focussed organisation has a unique, nationally significant collection devoted to the social and economic impact of the GWR, its constituent, absorbed and joint companies and its nationalised British Railways (Western Region) successor.

All seven Trustees are unpaid volunteers, who have to be GWS members and are individually appointed by the GWS Management Council.

Aim and Purpose of the Collection

To establish as comprehensive and representative collection of artefacts as possible with the purpose that not only will that material be conserved and available to current and future generations, but displayed and interpreted in such a way that it demonstrates the whole extent of this vast transport undertaking, its operations and the impact it had upon its staff and its customers.

To maintain topicality and to minimise fatigue for displayed items, we annually refresh some display themes. This also allows us to exploit the otherwise hidden part of our Collection.

The Collection

The vast majority of our collection has been donated by our visitors or by GWS members.

Broadly, it spans the period from 1833 (the First GWR Share Prospectus) to 1977 (when Diesel Hydraulic locomotives, unique to British Railways Western Region were withdrawn) The breadth is vast, including the building of locomotives to the running of Hotels, dockyards, air services, cartage, road motor omnibuses, marine and docks, and the organisation of the GWR staff and their wide ranging educational, recreational and welfare activities. It also covers aspects specific to Didcot and its locality. Finally, GWT are custodians of the GWS’s own railway preservation heritage records from its formation in 1961.

So far, we have recorded over 30,000 individual items and a further 50,000 photographs and that work continues based on many annual donations from both general public visitors to the Museum and GWS members, including bequests.

The Collection holds significant portfolios such as the R K Bird collection (which is probably the most comprehensive collection of Great Western publicity material in one place) and the bequests of Eric Mountford, Michael Hale, Mike Ogden and not least Charles Gordon Stuart.

The GWT Photographic Collection

The GWT Photographic Collection is vast . It covers not only the GWR and BR/WR but many other railways as well. Copies of images (scans only) are available to authors for publication or for private use. Details can be obtained from the GWT Photo Archivist via E Mail ensuring that ‘GWT Photo Archive’ is in the subject line or write to the GWT Photo Archivist c/o Didcot Railway Centre enclosing an SAE.

Research Visits and Reading Room

The GWT has now opened, as an addition to the existing Museum building, a Reading Room and an environmentally controlled Conservation Grade Store. Items in the Trust’s collection can now be viewed in the Reading Room by contacting the Trust and agreeing a Research Visit. Visits are always supervised by a Trustee and are strictly by prior appointment. As part of the process of agreeing a visit, the Trust will establish what items in the Collection will help you meet your research requirements and also arrange, if possible, for a Trustee to be in attendance who has particular knowledge in that area.

To help defray the running costs of the Museum and Store, we would ask for a donation when a Research Visit to the Trust is made. This will ensure that we can continue to meet the objective of conservation of the Collection and access to the Archive. A donation of £3.00 is requested if a copy of an artefact is made by photographic means. Any enquiry regarding the Trust Collection or Research Visits should be sent via E Mail, ensuring that ‘Great Western Trust Museum & Archive’ is in the subject line, or write to the GWT Secretary c/o Didcot Railway Centre enclosing an SAE.

Governance & Standards of Care & Administration

Under the umbrella title of Didcot Railway Centre, the bodies forming and administering it including the Great Western Trust, have gained full Accredited Status under the Arts Council of England (ACE) scheme. Hence potential donors can be satisfied that our Collection is subject to the best nationally recognised procedures.


Recreating the golden age of the Great Western Railway