Living Museum of the Great Western Railway

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Volunteer members of the Great Western Society run the Didcot Railway Centre, supported by a small number of paid staff.  To ensure that we continue to uphold the aims of the Society we seek and welcome new volunteers in all departments.

Didcot Railway Centre Needs You!

Didcot Railway Centre has become the leading Great Western Railway preservation centre through the efforts of our membership. Our activities range from the restoration and repair of our historic locomotives, coaches and wagons, and operating them on the demonstration lines; signalling; educating children and young people through the Science and Learning Centre; displaying collections in the Museum; all supported by site development and trackwork, special events, gardening and catering … to name but a few of the opportunities that await you.

Although in some areas we do need experienced volunteers with specialised skills do not be put off by thinking that you are unqualified, as we also provide full training for whichever job you choose to do. We realise that everyone has a different amount of uncommitted time - the amount of time you spend with us depends on you. Some activities take place regularly every week or fortnight; others, such as site working parties, are programmed and advertised in the Newsletter. Operating Staff are rostered over a year, usually a minimum of ten days per year.

So whether you are retired, young, or a working person with a few hours to spare, a warm welcome awaits you. 

Before you start as a volunteer at Didcot Railway Centre we will ensure that you take part in an induction session so that you know your way around and are able to work safely in a railway engineering environment.


Each engine under restoration or repair is undertaken by a specific group of volunteers. Whether you are skilled, unskilled or simply interested in engineering, a machinist, a fitter, a welder or can lend a willing hand to clean/assemble/paint/make tea, you can make a difference. We can provide appropriate training.

Current projects include:

  • 4079 Pendennis Castle (Project leader - Drew Fermor). The Group meets fortnightly.
  • 6023 King Edward II (Project leader - Karl Buckingham). Completed 2011 though some faults that showed up during the running in period are now being attended to, the Group meets fortnightly.
  • 2999 Lady of Legend (Project leader - Peter Chatman). The Group meets fortnightly.
  • 1014 County of Glamorgan (Project leader - Dicky Boast).
  • 7202/3822 The Heavy Freight Mob (Project leader - Mark Baldry) restore and maintain the freight engines, e.g. 3822 & 7202, and in their spare time run the Black Python Bar at Events!
  • W22 Diesel Railcar (Project leader - Jim Parker) maintain and operate the Diesel Railcar
  • Non-Operational Locomotives Group (Project Leader - Richard Preston)

Carriage & Wagon

Restoring and maintaining our fleet of passenger coaches and wagons in good working order, including our heritage fleet and the prestigious Super Saloons. Opportunities for woodworkers, joiners, electricians, plumbers, sheet metal workers/panelists, mechanical engineers (for brake and bogie overhauls), painters, general practical handymen, cleaners. (C&W Manager - Roger Horwood).


Volunteers are needed in each of the Sections of the Operating Department shown below (Contact - Richard Jermyn):

Trainee applicants will be required to complete a confidential medical questionnaire to the satisfaction of the Society’s Medical Officer, and to commit to 6-8 turns per year (minimum 4 turns p.a.) .

  • Duty Managers - A managerial role in charge of operational activities on running days, interacting with the public and operating staff.
  • Shunters - A very physical role, involved with all train movements on site: shunters move the trains around and co-ordinate the operations on running days. Shunter is also the entry grade for footplate crews, and can lead to trainee fireman, trainee driver, trainee crane operator etc. as vacancies arise.
  • Guards - Overall in charge of the train, with specific responsibility for coaches and passengers.
  • Station Masters - In charge of platforms, ensuring safety and enjoyment of public. An important role assisting visitors to board trains and act as liaison at all events.
  • Signalmen - Signalmen operate the signalling system from our two signal boxes on the Branch Line. ‘Box talkers’ also give brief talks to visitors to Radstock North Signal Box on operating days.
  • Travelling Post Office - Maintain and operate the TPO coach and apparatus.


  • Civil Engineering - This group has a programme of work dates for the year.  They undertake general building, plumbing, roofing, carpentry, painting, landscape/gardening, and tree surgery as well as general labouring skills. Architects, Quantity Surveyors and building services engineers are involved with major building planning. (Civil Engineer - Richard Antliff).
  • Permanent Way - The PW Group meets on a regular basis, usually on a Saturday. The Group is involved in preparing/excavating/track laying, assembling, fencing and light maintenance. General labourers also required. (PW Foreman - Richard Jermyn).
  • Signal & Telegraph - S&T Department maintains the signalling system and the Branch Line. Volunteers skilled in electrical work, painting, gardening, blacksmithing, woodwork, making/drinking tea are most welcome. (Contact - Robert Heron)


  • Science & Learning - Assistants in the Science & Learning Centre - the Society’s interactive educational resource for children and adults alike. Applicants will be CRB checked.
  • Guides & Group Escorts - GWS welcomes educational visits throughout the year, mainly during the week and some evenings.  Guides are trained to take groups around the Centre and educate visitors in the history of the GWR. We also provide escorts for Thomas and Santa visits. (Groups Contact - Pat Bosley).
  • Museum - The Museum houses a collection of GWR artefacts and memorabilia. Stewards staff the Museum on open days. (Museum Contact - Peter Rance).

Young Volunteers

Our younger members can join 'Firebox' and assist, under supervision, in the work of the Railway Centre. Why not have a look at the young volunteers page?


  • Shop - volunteers to act as a Shop Manager and Shop Assistants. (Contact - Angela Dean).
  • Events - Assistants for special events, eg. Thomas, Santa & Victorian Days (costumed); entertainers, platform staff, Santa helpers. (Contact - Pat Bosley).
  • Offices - Ticket Office Clerks at entrance, also Enquiry Office Staff to answer telephone enquiries, answer visitors’ enquiries and make announcements over the public address system. (Contact - Pat Bosley).

To find out more please contact Didcot Railway Centre:

Or download, complete and send in the GWS Volunteers Form (40kb .pdf file).

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