Your first opportunity to see three of steam's 'impossible projects' in action together.
The Great Western Railway 'Saint' class locomotives, introduced by G J Churchward in 1902, represented one of the most important steps forward in railway traction of the 20th century. The class incorporated many revoulutionary advances in design and the 'Saints' are now acknowledged to have had a profound influence on almost evey aspect of subsequent steam locomotive development.
Unfortunately no example was saved for preservation, the final engine, No. 2920 Saint David, being withdrawn from service and scrapped in 1953, ending a distinguished half century of work by the class.
Since 2004 the Great Western Society has been working to re-create an example of this iconic class using the opportunities provided by GWR standardization and 'Hall' class 4-6-0 No. 4942 Maindy Hall purchased from Barry Scrapyard by the GWS in 1974 with the specific intention of using it as the basis for a new 'Saint'. The Saint will return to steam in 2019.
The King class was the final and most powerful development of the GWR’s 4 cylinder designs.
Apart from the first of the Class, 6000 King George V, now on static display at STEAM (Swindon), the rest of the class were quicky scrapped with the exception of Nos. 6023 & 6024 which, having been used as dead weights for a bridge test, ended up at Woodham's scrap yard in Barry. 6024 was saved for preservation in 1973 for eventual return to steam in 1989.
Meanwhile 6023, which had suffered a shunting accident, leading to the rear driving wheel set being sliced through with a cutter's torch, was left in the open to rot at Barry for nearly 20 years. The marine air slowly ate through the boiler cladding and much of the steel plating and the locomotive was raided for parts - many taken for use on other locomotives.
The King finally left Barry in 1984 and, following purchase by the GWS, was returned to steam in 2011.
The Great Western Railway built a fleet of 99 steam-powered railmotors, between 1904 and 1908. These were gradually withdrawn between 1914 and 1935, with many of the earlier withdrawals being converted into auto-trailers for push-pull working with suitably fitted locomotives. Our own No.93, built in 1908, was converted into an auto-trailer in 1935. The autotrailer itself was condemned in 1956, but the vehicle was not scrapped but converted into a 'Work Study Coach' ending up in use as an office in Birmingham. When British Railways disposed of the vehicle, it was acquired by the Great Western Society and brought to Didcot Railway Centre in 1970, becoming the sole example of the Great Western Railway's original fleet to enter preservation.
After a great deal of research a replacement power bogie was designed and built, and the coach body completely overhauled, with the Steam Railmotor returning to traffic in 2011.
These are Steam Days, so you will be able to view our collections of locomotives, coaches, wagons and buildings as described in the Centre Guide and in our Guidebook (available for purchase from our shop or at the entrance) and enjoy the various facilities and exhibits.
You can walk around the only surviving steam age loco depot in its original condition, and get up close to our large collection of locomotives which are so much more impressive when seen from ground level. Why not explore the rest of the centre including the Archie Trail, the Science Learning & Railways interactive exhibition and visit our shop and refreshment room?
In addition, you will be able to:
Check our Locomotive Roster to see what we expect to be running on your next visit.
You can buy tickets online at any time prior to the day of your visit - or buy them at the entrance on arrival.
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