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The return of 1466

10/11/12 May - 60 Years and the realisation of a Dream - 1466 delivered 60 years ago, 55 years since our first public open day

Come and celebrate with us as we see the return of the most iconic locomotive in our collection and try to recreate the open day from 55 years ago. The very first Member's Open Day was the 10th May 1969, and at that time, we were the Didcot Motive Power Depot with the name Didcot Railway Centre coming much later.

If you're not familar with our story and our humble beginnings, the collection had started a few years before that when 4 schoolboys thought that it would be a travesty if steam was scrapped. They launched an appeal to purchase an engine and luckily for them (and us), the money kept coming in and the collection expanded beyond just one engine.

The engine was 1466 and the coach was 231 which were both delivered 60 years ago in 1964. Following an extensive overhaul (and subject to completion of the work), that engine should be back with us and will perform on our main demonstration line during the event this weekend. Watch as we try to recreate the open day and come and view many of the exhibits that started our journey all those years ago.

 

Our steam power will be come in the form of 1466 on our main demonstration line.

No: 1340 'Trojan' - the oldest working Great Western Railway engine, built in 1897

 

No 2409 “King George” – our newest finished restoration project – originally built in May 1942 – will also join the fleet and haul services over the weekend.

In addition to passenger trains, the event will feature goods workings, demonstrations of the 70ft turntable in action, a chance to see enginemen coaling the locos under the newly restored Grade II Listed 1932 coal stage and dramatic action as a coal truck is propelled up the steep incline to the 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 – find 5900 Hinderton Hall, climb onto the footplate and listen to Archie, the driver, and Stan, the fireman, prepare their loco! Listen out for the sounds of a working engine shed and see if you can hear Stan fetch his supplies from Jonah, the storeman.

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 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.

 

 

See our latest pre-arrival advice here.

NOTE FOR MEMBERS: We are asking members to pay a modest fee to attend this event as the costs of steaming our locomotives is significant on special event days. We thank you for your support and understanding.

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