Living Museum of the Great Western Railway

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Spring Bank Holiday Steam Up

23-25 May - Three or more locomotives in steam including award-winning 'Saint' No. 2999

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Coronavirus: In line with Government advice, the Centre is closed until further notice.

We will continue to monitor the situation and advice from the Government and Public Health England and will review the position frequently and will re-open when it is safe and responsible to do so.

If you have purchased tickets for the coming weeks, we will be in touch shortly with details of how to rearrange your visit.

If you do book online, and it not prove possible for us to open, you will be able to choose another date and transfer your booking the same type of open day at no additional charge.

We should like to thank visitors for their patience and understanding at this time.


Come and see our award-winning locomotive No. 2999 "Lady of Legend" hauling genuine Edwardian carriages. The remarkable locomotive will be one of three in action providing unlimted train rides throughout the weekend.

No 2999 is a recreated Saint Class locomotive of the type introduced by the Great Western Railway in 1902.  The innovative, outside cylinder design was the work of George Churchward, the GWR’s newly-appointed Locomotive Superintendent and incorporated features such as long-travel valves which greatly increased efficiency.  The class performed extremely well, and the design formed the basis for the period of standardisation on the GWR that lasted nearly 50 years until the railways were nationalised in 1948. This unprecedented half century of design continuity, built on the foundation of the Saints, is depicted through the unparalleled collection of locomotives assembled at Didcot which includes examples of most GWR types from this era.

The last original examples were withdrawn and scrapped in 1953, long-before the railway preservation movement was established, but 2019 saw the completion of a project, 45 years in the making, to build locomotive 2999 - the first "Saint" to enter service for over a century!  The scheme centred on rebuilding No 4942 “Maindy Hall” from scrapyard condition and reverse engineering the locomotive to create a Saint. This mirrored the process the GWR had used in 1925 when the prototype Hall Class was produced by the conversion of “Saint Martin”.

The £825,000 project included manufacturing major new components including wheels, axles and the lever reverse as well as extensively modifying and strengthening the frames.  Many other items, including the boiler, were refurbished, while still more came from surviving parts from other GWR locomotives. 

The huge achievement has been recognised by the Heritage Railway Association with a special Chairman's Award for the project team at their 2020 annual awards.

Turnatble demonstrations and double-headed trains will also feature at the event which will also see passenger trains in action offering unlimited rides on the Centre's two demonstartion lines.

As well as the trains, there's plenty to see and do as you explore this 21-acre living museum and unearth almost two centuries of railway history.  Stroll through the original 1932 engine shed and see magnificent preserved locomotives – you can even climb onto the footplates of some! See surviving track from Brunel’s broad gauge, discover painstakingly restored buildings, coaches and wagons and learn more about the development of railways and how they changed everyday lives.

There’s a chance to get hands-on in the Science of Railways carriages and the signalling centre where you can find out how trains have been controlled through the ages. Descend into a shelter built to keep Didcot’s enginemen safe in WWII and experience an air raid or immerse yourself in the varied collection of fascinating, smaller artefacts in the museum. Don't miss the opportunity to get hands-on and control trains using the 1960s technology of the Swindon Panel.  The equipment was once the heart of Swindon signalbox has been saved and restored so, guided by one of our experts, you can keep trains running safely and to time on a virtual Great Western mainline!

Children can let off steam in the outdoor play area, make tracks to the indoor toy train sets or dress up as a Station Master. You can relax over lunch or enjoy a snack in the refreshment rooms and don’t forget to pick up a souvenir in the gift shop.  The modern trains running past the centre complete the picture and mean you can experience 180 years of railway progress in just one day!

More details our collections can be found in the Explore section, and in our Guidebook (available for purchase online with your tickets or at the entrance).

Open 10.30am – 5.00pm, last admission 3.30pm

The cheapest and most convenient way to buy tickets is online in advance as these are discounted by 10%.

Admission Prices including a Gift Aid donation for this event are:

  Buy Online in advance Pay on Arrival
Adult £12.60 £14.00
Senior Citizen £11.25 £12.50
Child  £8.55  £9.50
Family (2 Ad & 2 Ch or 1 Ad & 3 Ch) £39.60 £44.00

Voluntarily Gift Aiding Your Donation allows us to reclaim tax to help look after the collection at Didcot Railway Centre.


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