We are delighted that work has now begun to construct the new visitor entrance ramp, which will allow for step free access to the Railway Centre for the first time.
Contractor's plant has begun being transferred to the Centre by rail from Didcot West Yard, and on Monday 11 September, the contractors arrived to unload the excavator from its wagon and to start clearing the site and conducting test borings for the concrete piles which will eventually support the structure.
The arrival of the contractors heralds the beginning of a new phase of this project, following a summer of mainly volunteer activity, which has seen the ticket office moved and all utilities re-routed to avoid the ramp site. A full archaeological survey of the site, which contains part of the foundation of the earlier GWR loco shed, has been conducted under the supervision of Charlie McCarthy. A report on this survey will appear in the next Great Western Echo.
If all goes well, we are hopeful that the basic structure of the ramp can be completed this year, but the project is a complex one, in our terms, especially given the additional logistical challenge of all plant and materials requiring delivery by rail.
Whilst we have the funds to complete the structure itself, we would very much like to introduce some Great Western features into what will become the first structure that our visitors see on entering our site. This could include such features as railings, gratings and tiling. We have launched an appeal to pay for these 'nice-to haves' and would welcome any contribution you may be able to make.
For more information see the Appeal Leaflet
The steps at the entrance to Didcot Railway Centre have been challenging to some and impossible for others. In particular, for events aimed at young families, a huge number of prams and buggies have to be carried up the steps and then back down at the end of the visit. Whilst we try to provide help with this, it is not appropriate for a modern visitor attraction.