On 26th May 2018 the Didcot Railway Centre – also known as the Living Museum of the Great Western Railway – held a WWI event titled as Rails on the Western Front. Having only visited the Centre on one previous occasion and as the event crossed my interests in railway and military history, attendance was a must.
The Centre is home to a well maintained variety of (mostly steam) locomotives, while almost as impressive is the railway infrastructure including the splendid engine shed, turntable, traverser and broad gauge running lines. A casual visitor to the Centre will take about 2 hours to go round, while the enthusiast will likely take all day. Two demonstration running lines are within the Centre and on steam days the visitor may take as many rides as they wish for the single entry price.
Rather than list all the locomotives on site – which would be a tedious task and quite unnecessary as this information is available elsewhere – I will list only the locomotives that feature in my photographs.
- 66110 – DB Cargo UK Class 66
- Captain Baxter – Fletcher Jennings Class B 0-4-0T
- 6998 Burton Agnes Hall – GWR Hall Class 4-6-0
- 3738 – GWR 57xx Class 0-6-0PT
- 18000 – Gas Turbine Electric (built 1949)
- 22 – GWR Diesel Rail Car “Flying Banana”
- Firefly – Daniel Gooch broad gauge 2-2-2 (replica)
- 1338 – GWR 0-4-0ST (Cardiff Railway No 5)
- 93 – GWR Railmotor
- 1466 – GWR 14xx Class 0-4-2T
- D9516 – BR Class 14 “Teddy Bear”
- 5572 – GWR 4675 Sub-class 2-6-2
- 6106 – 61xx Class 2-6-2T
- No 5 Shannon – George England 0-6-0WT
- 4079 Pendennis Castle – GWR Castle Class 4-6-0
- 5051 Drysllwyn Castle – GWR Castle Class 4-6-0 (also known as Earl Bathurst)
- 5900 Hinderton Hall – GWR Hall Class 4-6-0
- 80604 Phantom – BR Class 08 0-6-0 DE
- 4144 – GWR 41xx Class 2-6-2T
- 5205 – GWR 5205 Class 2-8-0T
- 5322 – GWR 43xx Class (entered service in France in July 1917)
- 3822 – GWR 28xx Class (used exclusively for RN coal haulage in WWI)
As usual the captions will show just the running number and name (where appropriate), so on to the images:
There was also, of course, displays specific to the WWI theme. The re-enactors were happy to chat (and pose for pictures) and very knowledgeable about their period while the ambulance train was something I’d never seen before.
Centre & Event Guides
For a very reasonable £5 (price correct as of May 2018) a very informative, 47 page guide is available for the Centre. The guide is crammed with informative text, photographs ( many of them in colour), a map of the site, a walk-round guided tour and a stock list. Because the day we visited was a special event, there was also a specific guide included in the entry price.
So this was my second visit to the Didcot Railway Centre and my first at a special event.. Tony and I spent pretty much the whole day at the event and were thoroughly entertained. To all railway enthusiasts I very much recommend a visit, if possible on a steaming day. Details of all events are on the Centre’s website.