Living Museum of the Great Western Railway

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Coal Stage Conservation

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Water Tower & Coal Stage Conservation Project

For some time, we have been concerned about the condition of the Water Tower and Coal Stage, which is now over 80 years old and has served us well over the years. We have been advised that without immediate repair and restoration there is a possibility that the water tank could fail at any time which would make running steam locomotives almost impossible in the short term and also bring about the loss one of our most popular visitor attractions.


As a result, there is now an urgent need for funds for the restoration and repair of one of the most important buildings and pieces of railway heritage at Didcot Railway Centre. The Water Tower and Coal Stage is vital to us if we are going to continue running a heritage museum with steam locomotives at Didcot.

Scaffolding being erected around the coal stage - 24-Nov-2021

The overall cost of the remedial works is estimated to be in the region of £300,000. In this regard we have been fortunate to receive a grant for up to  £100,000 from the Railways Heritage Trust, which is most welcome, but we now need to find the remainder in order to complete the works. Scaffolding has already been erected around the structure to allow a start to be made on the work on the water tank and then we will commence work on the other parts of the building that are in need of restoration.

The Water Tower and Coal Stage is probably the most iconic building reminiscent of steam locomotives at Didcot. Built in 1932 it has coaled and watered GWR engines without fail since that date and as it is a listed Grade 2 building we cannot leave it to deteriorate further. We now need to restore it to a level where it can service our living collection for another 80 years.   

The inside of the tank ready for inspection, having been cleared of years of sediment

Whatever help you can give at this time to help us carry out and complete this work during 2022 will be much appreciated and is vital in our efforts to bring back to life or continue running our magnificent collection of locomotives and rolling stock.

Update January 2023

The conservation of the water tank was completed in late summer 2022, when the tank was refilled and the supply to the yard water cranes restored.

The next phase of the Coal Stage project will see work on the coal stage itself (masonry and timber work) and long overdue repairs to make the access steps safe again.  This will ensure that like the tank, it will last for many more years as a unique and iconic structure.


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