Living Museum of the Great Western Railway

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Science, Learning and Railways

Coronavirus: We are resuming actvities gradually, safely and line with Government advice. This means that some small, inside facilities, including the Science. Learning and Railways Carriages, remain closed at the moment.

We should like to thank visitors for their patience and understanding at this time.


Science, Learning and Railways

Our exciting Science, Learning & Railways Exhibition is housed in two railway coaches located to the left of the engine shed as you walk along the path from the entrance to the Railway Centre.

You enter the exhibition through the Introduction area. Here, you can explore the impact the railways had on local people. You can also build a variety of steam locomotives and a model steam railmotor similar to the one we are currently restoring. If you become expert at locomotive building, you can try bridge building. We also have a push-along train set and Vtech interactives for our younger visitors.

When you have finished in the Introduction, walk through the steam engine ‘firebox’ opening into the main interactive exhibition area – say “hello” to Isambard Kingdom Brunel on the way.

Try each of the Stations and discover:

  • Fire, Air, Water and Earth - Can you keep a ‘fire’ burning?
  • Water, Steam and Pressure - Can you ‘boil’ the water and create steam?
  • Using your new knowledge - Can you ‘fire’ the locomotive to make the wheel turn?
  • Man’s Ingenuity - Can you build up enough pressure to drive the piston – in the right direction?
  • Signalling the Network - Can you be a signalman and recognise the correct bell codes?
  • Environmental and Social Impact - Which is the best way of travelling?
  • Knowledge Wheel - How much do you remember? Test yourself and make the wheel turn.

Science, Learning and Railways

You leave the main interactive Exhibition area through the steam locomotive’s ‘smokebox’. Pause a while to view the video display, pick up a comment form and leave at the end door of the coach.

Outside the Science, Learning and Railways Exhibition are three main large exhibits. Although these need adult supervision, our younger visitors are welcome to try pulling the signal levers; find out what a ‘wheel tapper’ did; and try the weighing scales.

The Science, Learning & Railways Project would not have been possible without generous grants from the Millennium Commission of £134,000 through the Rediscover Fund, a Biffaward of £34,000 and the substantial support received from St. Birinus School Didcot, Didcot Girls School and Faringdon Community College.

The partner schools have also provided practical support with interactive exhibits in the outdoor area around the Science, Learning and Railways facility.

The exhibition was launched for schools on Tuesday 28 March 2006 by Nicholas Owen of ITN. A public celebration day took place on Sunday 9 April 2006 to mark the opening of the exhibition at the Bicentenary Birthday Steaming for Isambard Kingdom Brunel, the world famous engineer who designed and built the Great Western Railway, which passes through Didcot en route from Bristol to London.

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