Living Museum of the Great Western Railway

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Tuesday Treasure Trove - April 2020

BLOG - Discover fascinating hidden gems from our Museum and Archive

We are very fortunate indeed here at Didcot Railway Centre with our vast collection of historic locomotives, artefacts and memorabilia that forms our world-famous museum telling the story of the Great Western Railway and its employees. For our volunteers and staff there are objects of great interest everywhere around the centre, each item unique to keeping the greatest railway company on the rails.

Our Tuesday Treasures blog is designed to share this vast and historically important collection so enjoy our deep dive into the rich history in our Museum and Archives.





In our current period of the very strongest calls from HMG to our population to “do the right thing”, we post this strikingly designed leaflet which was issued to GWR staff in March 1944, and the images detail its very similar moral plea for ever more struggle, toil and funding for the War effort. The Great Western Trust Collection holds many more examples of those seemingly very dark, unending days of endurance which thankfully, gratefully and perhaps miraculously for our generation, our forebears overcame. We can only demonstrate our awe and respect for them by showing just the same commitment and resolve and grit in our challenging times. 



During the 1950s British Railways (Western Region) made strenuous efforts to utilise rolling stock that would normally only be used on Summer Saturdays. One initiative was the Holiday Express which gave the public the opportunity to travel on consecutive days to different destinations.

From the Great Western Trust collection here are two handbills from 1957 and 1960 (until 1965 August Bank Holiday was the first Monday in the month). The promise of "somewhere different each day" in the first seems a distant dream at present; but six decades ago, Londoners were offered the chance to travel to Minehead, Gloucester, Bath Spa, Weston-super-Mare and Oxford all for the princely sum of 75/-, equivalent to around £90 at today’s values. 

People from Birmingham and the Black Country were not forgotten as the second example shows destinations in North Wales, Lancashire, London and the South Coast on offer. These two items form part of the huge collection of publicity material held by the Great Western Trust.



At first glance, this appears to be a standard Great Western Railway ticket; but look closely and you might just spot something rather special!

The name ‘Titanic’ is famous across the World as the subject of one of the greatest maritime disasters of all time, after sinking on its maiden voyage in April 1912 – 108 years ago this week.

This rare ticket states ‘issued on board White Star Line SS Titanic’ for a journey from Plymouth to London Paddington.

The liner’s eastbound voyages were to have called at Plymouth, allowing an onward journey to London via the GWR which would have been quicker than remaining onboard to Southampton and catching a train from there.  Passengers from the ‘Titanic’ would have boarded a GWR train from Plymouth Millbay station.

The curiosity is but one gem from the vast and famed, worldwide railway ticket collection of the late Charles Gordon Stuart, bequeathed to the Great Western Trust, which has been fully catalogued and conserved at Didcot Railway Centre in the archives of the GWT Museum.

The collection includes not only tickets destined for the ‘Titanic’ but a similar ticket for her sister ship ‘Olympic’.



Today's "treasure" is short and sweet - both the entry and the artefact itself.  It's a delightful doll in full Great Western Railway uniform dating from the 1930s and was given out as a gift from Paddington Station refreshment room. They are extremely rare; do you have one tucked away at home?



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