The Great Western Society, the Charity which runs Didcot Railway Centre, was born out of an appeal in 1961 to save a GWR tank engine. Six decades on the Centre is home to the largest collection of artefacts anywhere in the World that relates to a single transport company. Come and celebrate our Diamond Jubilee.
Locomotive 32678 ‘Knowle’ an A1X steam engine, one of the last batch of a class known as ‘Terriers’, entering service in 1880, will be visiting us from the Kent and East Sussex Railway. Knowle first saw service on the K&ESR in 1940 and pulled the final passenger train when the line closed – 60 years ago this year. After a brief spell operating on the Hayling Island branch towards the end of an astonishing operational career - she had covered nearly a million miles by the time the Southern Railway was formed in 1923 - she was sold to Butlins in 1964, becoming an exhibit in the children's playground at Minehead. For further information on Knowle please visit the Kent And East Sussex webpage or The Terrier Trust.
Photo Credit - Robert Wickham, May 2021
Other steam power will be come in the form of the award-winning 2999 ‘Lady of Legend’ which entered service in 2019 following a 24-year project to recreate the elegant Edwardian engine; No: 1340 'Trojan' - the oldest working Great Western Railway engine, built in 1897 to work at Newport Docks in South Wales and No: 4144 - a large and powerful tank engine built at the Great Western Railway's famous Swindon Locomotive Works in 1946.
We are also pleased to announce that No: 4079 – Pendennis Castle, will be on static display for photo opportunities and also talks from the restoration crew. Pendennis is currently not scheduled to be moving under her own steam on this day however there is a chance she will have a fire in her belly!
In addition to passenger trains, the event will feature goods workings, demonstrations of the 70ft turntable in action, a chance to see locomotives taking coal from the Grade II Listed 1932 coal stage – all sights that were commonplace at the steam depot in GWR days.
On site, you will find painstakingly restored buildings, carriages, and wagons and learn more about the development of railways and how they changed everyday lives. Visitors will also have the chance to get up close to the locomotives in the spacious Engine Shed which has remained largely-unchanged since it was built in 1932. See the magnificent preserved locomotives - you can even climb onto the footplate of some! A leisurely walk or a trip on our branch line will take you to the Transfer Shed where you can see surviving track from Brunel's Broad Gauge railway with replica locomotives and carriages.
The large, well-ventilated carriage shed will also be open with coaches dating from Victorian times to the 1940s that evoke bygone eras. See the VIP Saloon reputed to have been used by General Eisenhower during the preparations for D-Day and later used in the GWR Royal Train!
Enjoy a snack or light lunch in the Refreshment Rooms and pick up a souvenir from our exclusive range in the Gift Shop.
Select your date and arrival time.
You should arrive within your 30 minute time slot and will then be welcome to stay all day until we close at 4.00pm.
NOTE FOR MEMBERS: We are asking members to pay a modest fee to attend this event as the costs of steaming several locomotives is significant. We thank you for your support and understanding and free members tickets are available for our Steam Days.