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Oxfordshire & The Cotswolds Museums and Arts


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Didcot Railway Centre

Didcot Oxfordshire England
Description : 


2 June 2020

Staff and volunteers at Didcot Railway Centre are making plans to again welcome visitors their 21-acre open air site and are offering re-opening "Return Tickets" to those looking forward to exploring the outdoor living museum.

The special "Return Tickets" will provide customers with the chance to visit on an Open-Air Discovery Day when the Centre re-opens and will also be valid for a second visit – to one of the Centre's popular Steam Days when it is possible to resume running trains.

The Centre will set up special outdoor displays and photo opportunities including historic steam engines, goods trains and a locomotive on the turntable, as well as giving visitors 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.

A leisurely stroll will also take visitors to a beautifully recreated 1930s branch line station and to a rare section of surviving track from Brunel's broad gauge railway, complete with replica Victorian locomotives.

Chief Executive, Emma Jhita, said "We have plenty of outside space, so are well placed to welcome visitors once the lockdown is eased further. Numbers will be strictly limited so everyone has room to wander around the Centre discovering the exhibits that represent almost 200 years of railway history.

"The special "Return Tickets" are great value as they are priced at the same level as our standard Steam Days – so customers will get two visits for the price of one! It's our way of thanking them for supporting us now, when we need to pay for essential tasks to care for the site and our irreplaceable historic artefacts."

The prolonged, enforced closure to combat Covid-19 has cut off the vast majority of income for the Centre which normally welcomes 50,000 per year. Most of the staff are furloughed and volunteers have not been able to get on site to carry on their painstaking work maintaining and restoring the historic locomotives, vintage carriages, and listed buildings.

"In common with many museums and attractions, this has been a difficult time for us," explained Emma, "We haven't got a firm date for re-opening yet, we hope it will not be too much longer and we're working to make sure the site is Covid Secure so guests can visit with confidence when we can reopen."


Further information about the Centre can be found at

Sleeping Car West Yard 2A carriage once used on the prestigious Caledonian Sleeper from London to the Scottish Highlands has arrived at Didcot Railway Centre and will soon be used to provide overnight accommodation for some of the volunteers who help run the 21-acre living museum.

The coach has been donated by Porterbrook Leasing following its retirement from Caledonian Sleeper services last October after around 35 years in service. The carriage was delivered by road to Didcot West Yard on 6 May and moved by rail to the Centre on 11 May.

Chief Executive, Emma Jhita, said "We are extremely grateful for Porterbrook for this generous gift. In normal times, our 250 active volunteers contribute around 50,000 hours to restore and maintain our unique collection and help welcome visitors and bring to life the history of the Great Western Railway – anything that helps us to improve the amenities for our working volunteers is very welcome and this coach will be of particular benefit to those that travel some distance to work on the site."

She added, "Although we are currently closed, we will be pleased to welcome new volunteers from near and far as soon as we are in a position to reopen – whether you want to help run the trains, serve in the shop or tend the gardens within the Centre, we'd love to hear from you." The Centre can be contacted on

180 years after it was incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1835, the Great Western remains Britain's best loved railway. It was built on a heroic scale by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, with a broad gauge, beautiful bridges and sumptuous stations. It served some of the most scenic areas of England and Wales and called itself The Holiday Line. It invented the Cornish Riviera as a tourist destination. In the 20th century the GWR's Cheltenham Flyer was the world's fastest train. Its locomotive policy in the first half of the 20th century was an object lesson in the benefits of standardisation and evolutionary design. With the end of steam on the horizon by the 1940s, the GWR had built a fleet of diesel railcars and experimented with gas turbine locomotives.

Today Didcot Railway Centre encapsulates the long history of the GWR. The replica of the 1840 broad gauge locomotive Fire Fly offers an experience of travel at the beginning of the railway era. The collection of more than 20 standard gauge locomotives from the 1890s to the 1940s include many of the standard classes typified by tapered boilers, copper-capped chimneys and Brunswick green paintwork. They are completed by Didcot's preserved fleet of chocolate and cream carriages. On a steamday you are guaranteed a ride in vintage carriages from the 1930s or 1940s.

But Didcot is much more than a train ride. The original engine shed, built 1932, is an exhibition hall which displays locomotives in their authentic surroundings. As the only complete GWR locomotive depot that has survived, Didcot also has a coal stage and turntable in working order. Within the railway centre, buildings have been brought from around the GWR system and re-erected. These included two signal boxes, one of which is regularly opened with staff to explain how semaphore signalling works. There is a picnic area where you can sit and watch the trains go past.

The railway centre also includes a comprehensive museum of small relics and artifacts from the GWR. These include the colourful posters which decorated stations, an amazing variety of silverware, glass and crockery used in restaurant cars in the age of elegant dining, and the everyday items crafted in brass or steel and marked with the magic initials GWR.

An interactive Science, Learning and Railways exhibition in two railway coaches explains the theory of steam locomotion to young and not so young visitors. The original air raid shelter from 1940 has been restored as an experience of that dark era when the railways helped to ensure victory, but emerged so run down that nationalisation was inevitable. In 1948 the GWR became part of British Railways, but the brand is so potent that the privatised train operating company has re-adopted the name Great Western.
Whether you want to be entertained, educated or to admire engineering excellence, a visit to Didcot Railway Centre is a great experience.

As always, it is suggested to check the website for details or updates, or to telephone the centre on 01235 817200

11 June 2017 4144 2 crop 2400

The entrance to Didcot Railway Centre is at Didcot Parkway railway station on the London to Bristol main line. For information about events, please refer to our website, or telephone 01235 817200.

Didcot Railway Centre Gains TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, Hall of Fame Award

Didcot Railway Centre is delighted to announce that the Centre has been recognised as a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, "Hall of Fame" winner.

The Certificate of Excellence award celebrates all round excellence for a given attraction, and is given only to establishments that consistently achieve great visitor reviews.

The 'Hall of Fame' was created to honour those businesses that have earned a Certificate of Excellence for five consecutive years; being created in 2015 for the fifth anniversary of the Certificate of Excellence. It was not offered in 2016 or 2017.

Being awarded the Certificate of Excellence for many years, this induction into the 'Hall of Fame' is a huge source of pride for the entire team at Didcot Railway Centre. We would like to thank all of our past guests who took the time to complete a travel review.

There is no greater seal of approval than being recognised by our visitors. With the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence based on visitor reviews, the accolade is a remarkable vote of confidence to our living history museum, and to our continued commitment to excellence.

Ann Middleton, Commercial Manager, said, 'We are proud and delighted to have qualified for a Certificate of Excellence, Hall of Fame entry, from TripAdvisor. We really value our visitors' opinions of Didcot Railway Centre and are always striving to improve where we can'.

Two Centenarian Locomotives make tracks to Didcot Railway Centre for half-term steam days

31 and 813 03 smallDidcot Railway Centre is hosting two very special visiting locomotives for its Half-Term Steam Days on 26, 27, 30 October, 2 and 3 November. The pair are both over 100 years old and were built by Hudswell Clarke & Co in Leeds, but they have had very different careers.

No 31 was constructed in 1913 for Sir Robert McAlpine & Sons and worked at the company's Hayes depot until the 1960s when it was to have been scrapped but was saved by the late Sir William McAlpine and it has worked on the family's large garden railway at Fawley Hill ever since. This is believed to be the locomotive's first working visit away from Fawley Hill and will provide a rare chance to ride in a passenger carriage behind No. 31 as she spent most of her working life shunting trucks loaded with construction materials, while passengers at Fawley Hill are conveyed in an adapted good wagon. No 31 will be in action at Didcot on 30 October and 2 & 3 November and appears courtesy of Lady McAlpine.

This locomotive can currently be seen making appearances on Channel 5's "Great Model Railway Challenge" programme.

The second visitor is No 813 which was built for the Port Talbot Railway in 1900 and was used on coal trains and to shunt colliery sidings until 1933 when she was sold to Backworth Collieries in Northumberland where she worked until 1966. The Great Western Railway took over the Port Talbot network in 1922 and when overhauled by her new owners, 813 received a characteristic GWR bunker, brass dome and copper capped chimney that partially disguise her industrial roots. 813 will be hauling passenger trains on 26, 27, 30 October, 2 and 3 November.

On 2 and 3 November, 813 will be reacquainted with coal trucks that played an important part in her history as she propels wagons loaded with coal up the steep incline to the Centre's coal stage – the only surviving working example of a type of building that was once commonplace at locomotive sheds. At the coal stage, the solid fuel can be transferred into tubs which then tip to fill the bunker of a locomotive waiting below.

The two centenarians will also be used to work demonstration goods trains on the Centre's two running lines over the course of the weekend and will double-head passenger trains each afternoon – the first time these remarkable survivors have operated together.

Other half-term highlights at the Centre include Apple Day on 27 October when Sustainable Didcot will be in attendance with their apple press, visitors are encouraged to bring their own apples for pressing; and Discovery Days on 28, 29, 31 October and 1 November when, with no trains running, visitors can take the chance to get close to the exhibits including Nos. 31 and 813 on display, the Centre's resident fleet of GWR locomotives housed in the original 1932 engine shed, fascinating artefacts in the museum with special talks on the object of the day, a section of Brunel's broad gauge track with replica locomotives, many restored GWR buildings carriages and wagons plus the interactive Signalling Centre and Science of Railways exhibition for families, the chance to dress up at the Ticket Office and even an original Air Raid Shelter built to protect enginemen in the Second World War!


Didcot Railway Centre is getting set to welcome some very special visitors to provide a fantastic seasonal treat for families.

Thomas The Tank Engine will be making the journey from the Isle of Sodor for the Festive Days Out With Thomas which will take place at Didcot on weekends from 30 November until 22 December.

Visitors to the Centre during the festive period can ride in a train of vintage carriages pulled by Thomas himself; meet The Fat Controller as he keeps a close eye on proceedings and say hello to Sodor Station Sweepers, Rusty and Dusty!

The Fat Controller will also be signing Junior Engineer Certificates and taking part in re-enactments of classic Thomas stories.

The Centre's second special guest will be Father Christmas himself and one of Didcot's resident steam engines will be in action running trains to take excited boys and girls to meet Father Christmas in his grotto housed in a wonderfully decorated festive station. There is children's entertainment, balloon modellers and a wrapped present for every child!

Advance booking is strongly recommended as these days are extremely popular – please see for full details and booking. Gates open at 9.30am and the fun continues until 3.30pm - you will need to reserve a time for your train ride to meet Father Christmas, but you can arrive anytime from 9.30am and stay as long as you wish!

Full details of opening times and prices can be found at . Entrance is through Didcot Parkway Station and subway.

 10 December Thomas 01 smallDidcot Railway Centre Christmas 06 small copyGrotto cropped

For further details, please refer to or telephone 01235 817200.

Swindon Panel display


Nature in Art

Twigworth Gloucestershire England
Description : 

cotsw natureart1

Discover the unique nature inspired art collection housed within the beautiful setting of Wallsworth Hall. The Georgian mansion was once owned by Samuel Hayward (1714-1790), local landowner and magistrate who built it for his wife Catherine as a wedding present, you will be in awe as you spy its grandeur travelling along their half mile driveway, edged by trees and fields. The perfect surroundings for what is held within!

The art collection is international in scope, embracing two and three dimensional work in all media and styles, ranging from Pablo Picasso to David Shepherd. Over their 25 year history, Nature in Art has collected works which represent over 1500 years of art inspired by nature, from more than 50 countries and 600 artists. So whether you prefer exotic Flemish masters or contemporary glass, modern abstract interpretations or bronze sculpture, textiles or ethnic art there will be something for you...


Nature in Art is also suitable for all the family; children can create animal brass-rubbings, experiment with materials using their handling box, touch some of the sculptures around the galleries, as well as enjoy their outdoor play area and garden.

Together you can visit the artist in residence (from mid-January to mid-November) in the purpose-built studio, meet a woodcarver, painter or sculptor! Complete your visit by relaxing in the coffee shop with a homemade lunch or afternoon tea, and then browse through the gift shop for a memento of your day. The shop sells a range of unique gifts, cards and prints.

Open: Tuesday-Sunday, including Bank Holidays, 10am to 5pm. Closed 24th-26th December.
Entry: £5.25 adults, £4.75 concessions (over 60s, under 16s), £15 family (2 adults, 2 children), under 8s free.

Telephone 01452 731422

cotsw natureart2 

New Brewery Arts

Cirencester Gloucestershire England
Description : 

Built in 1820 as a brewery, the premises continued to brew beer until 1937. After a period of use by a sheet-metal company the buildings were bought by Cotswold District Council for demolition. A local group, however, proposed repair and conversion into craft workshops instead and Cirencester Workshops opened in 1979.


Read more ...

Museum of Oxford

Oxford Oxfordshire England
Description : 

The Museum of Oxford opened in 1975 and immediately intrigued locals and visitors to the city with the story of Oxford and how it has developed.


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Holst Birthplace Museum

Cheltenham Gloucestershire England
Description : 

It feels like going back in time when you step inside the Regency terrace house where Gustav Holst, composer of The Planets was born in 1874.

Read more ...
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oxf cc

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