THE DIDCOT RAILWAY CENTRE, DIDCOT, UK: The Didcot Railway Centre is located in the English town of Didcot, it is nestled directly alongside the busy Didcot modern railway station. The Didcot Railway Centre houses a massive array of Great Western Railway (GWR) Rail stock and the site is dominated by an equally massive Engine Shed.
My visit to Didcot coincided with the 50th Anniversary of the Great Western Society and the 44th year of occupation of the GWR Engine Shed at Didcot. The Didcot Railway Centre has expanded over the years and in 2011 covered some twenty acres!
STEAM LOCOMOTIVE #5322: A total of 342 of this early #53XX Class were built, they served throughout the GWR System. Locomotive #5322 was one of twenty GWR locomotives built at Swindon in 1917 and dispatched immediately to France to assist the British Army transport supplies from the Channel Ports to the front line during the World War 1.
The locomotive was returned to England and 'demobbed' at Chester in 1919, fortunately the locomotive remained the only #53XX Class to survive the 'cutter's torch'. A Great Western Society member acquired the locomotive in 1969, she was relocated to Didcot in 1973 and used at open days until 1975. In the early 1990's initial overhaul works commenced which finally resulted in the locomotive being returned to it's configuration and appearance of 1919, she was returned to service at Didcot in November 2008. The locomotive wheel configuration is 2-6-0 and the weight is 102 tons.
STEAM LOCOMOTIVE #6998: This locomotive is a GWR 6959 Modified Hall Class 4-6-0 type, built at Swindon in January 1949. She was the last Steam Locomotive to haul a scheduled passenger train on the Western Region and she was withdrawn from service in 1965.
THE FIRE FLY: The Fire Fly is a broad gauge replica completed at Didcot by The Fire Fly Trust in 2005. The nameplate on the side of the replica Fire Fly states that it was built by The Fire Fly Project with key dates of Bristol, 1987 and Didcot, 1989. The wheel configuration is a somewhat unusual 2-2-2.
The original Fire Fly was one of the first class of sixty one locomotives designed by Daniel Gooch for passenger services on the GWR, the original was manufactured by Jones, Turner and Evans of Newton-le-Willows and saw service in the years 1840~1870.
STEAM RAILMOTOR #93: Originally constructed as a Steam Railmotor #93 in 1908, #93 was subsequently converted to an Auto Trailer in 1935. In the early 1970's the Great Western Society obtained a couple of Auto Trailers and developed one in sympathy with the original Steam Railmotor vehicle #93, the ultimate goal is to develop a Steam Railmotor (#93) and a Trailer combination.
DIESEL SHUNTER 'PHANTOM' #604: Originally constructed in 1959 with a wheel configuration of 0-6-0, #604 was for some time finished in 'black war department livery' with the locomotive code #WD40, then painted in 'Tyseley' BR green and finally in August 2010, an earlier plain green livery. When #604 arrived at Didcot she required an extensive overhaul including exchanging one of the wheel sets, repairs to a seized traction motor and the driver's cab had been stripped out which entailed a partial rewire. #604 now performs general shunting duties at the Didcot Railway Centre.
LOCOMOTIVE 'BONNIE PRINCE CHARLIE': Originally constructed in 1951 by Robert Stephenson and Hawthorns, she was originally owned by Messr's Coral on Poole Quay for Gas Works duties. She was purchased by the Salisbury Steam Trust for preservation in 1969 and subsequently arrived at Didcot where she underwent further restoration prior to 1985. The locomotive has a wheel configuration of 0-4-0.
TRAVELLING POST OFFICE GROUND APPARATUS DISPLAY: Travelling Post Office (T.P.O.) apparatus was implemented for the first time between Euston and Rugby Train Stations in 1838! Mail pouches were suspended from arms which were 'caught in nets' deployed off the side of the T.P.O. Coach as the train passed, deliveries were also achieved using similar equipment. The Postman usually prepared the mail pouches nominally ten minutes before the train was to pass and was required to witness the exchange.
T.P.O. Transfer was last used by British Railways (BR) at Penrith, Cumbria in 1971. The Great Western Society's T.P.O. Coach is regularly used to display the mail exchange system.
TRACKSIDE: There is so much atmosphere at Didcot and the trackside facilities and fixtures only add to the overall spectacle.
MORE DIDCOT RAILWAY CENTRE COVERAGE: Please continue my 'Didcot Railway Centre coverage' by selecting the following page...
MORE RAILWAYS COVERAGE: Please continue my 'Railways coverage' by selecting from the following pages...
I LOVE NEW TECHNOLOGY, TABLETS, LAPTOPS, DIGITAL CAMERAS, MOBILE PHONES/WIRELESS BROADBAND, GPS, ETC. ALL SO COOL AND 'PORTABLE'......