As well as the more obvious features of the Railway Centre described in the sections above, there are quite a few other items of railway interest which have been re-located or created at the centre. Some of the larger ones are described below:
The traverser is used to provide rail access to the various lines within the carriage shed, within a limited space.
Our traverser has no Great Western pedigree, having originally come from the carriage works at Derby, though it has been much modified for use at Didcot.
Beyond the traverser is the carriage shed itself where much of our collection of GWR coaches is kept.
You can normally go into some parts of the shed to see carriages on display and under restoration, though other parts may be closed for safety reasons.
Once the Wantage Tramway, which ran from Wantage Road station on the Great Western main line to Wantage itself, closed on 30 July 1925, the passenger service was provided by a GWR Road Motor (or bus in modern parlance) which ran a Didcot-Wantage Road-Wantage route.
The road motor was ‘shedded’ at Wantage Road in a corrugated iron building specially constructed for the purpose. The shed has been acquired by the Great Western Society and is currently being re-erected at Didcot Railway Centre. When completed it is intended to be used to display some of our collection of GWR horse-drawn vehicles.
Railwaymen were often permitted to use areas of land owned by the railway company but not required for operational purpose, as allotments, and a typical allotment has been created at Didcot beyond the Great Western Trust Museum and Archive. During the summer months there will normally be a fine selection of vegetables growing adjacent to the busy working shed.
This is a new building but it is closely based on the original design of the Railmotor Shed, which the Great Western Railway built in 1905 at the London end of Southall station.
The building was constructed in 2010 to house our recently restored Steam Railmotor No. 93 and Trailer Coach No. 92.
Much more information about the shed can be found on the Steam Railmotor web pages.
The air raid shelter, next to the shop, is one of two built to protect the railwayman at the loco shed during World War II. The other is behind the Great Western Trust Museum and Archive, but is used as a store and is not open to the public.
The shelters would not have survived a direct hit but would have provided protection from shrapnel and flying debris. It may also have given protection from incendiary devices.
The air raid shelter is made from concrete and is protected by being semi-sunk into the ground. The roof is covered with stones which would have been scattered by a nearby blast, absorbing much of the energy.
The air raid shelter was restored to its original condition in 2008.
Even the small entrance building where you buy your ticket and guidebook is an original Great Western Railway building.
It was originally built as a ground frame hut and was used to house the Yard Ground Frame at the east end of Didcot station.
The adjoining porch structure has been added in a similar style to the original building, to provide shelter to arriving visitors.
In the longer term we hope to build a more substantial visitor entrance building, at which time the hut can be moved to another part of the centre and revert to its original function. We also have plans to re-use the porch!
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