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Oxfordshire & The Cotswolds Museums and Arts


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Didcot Railway Centre

Didcot Oxfordshire England
Description : 

Santa and elves 2 medSanta Set to "Steam Into Christmas 2020" at Railway Centre

Staff and volunteers at Didcot Railway Centre are working hard to prepare for a very special visitor when the Covid-secure site is able to re-open in December. Father Christmas himself will be at the popular tourist attraction on weekends from 5 – 20 December plus Tuesday 22 and Wednesday 23.

Visitors will be able to take a ride on a vintage train, with a private compartment for each group, to a specially decorated Victorian station where they can meet Santa who is letting his reindeer take a rest ahead of Christmas Eve. Instead, he will be on a special train full of presents and will have a gift for every child, helpers to entertain the family and has arranged a second steam train to take visitors (and their presents) on a festive journey, ready to explore the rest of the 21-acre living museum.

There are seasonal refreshments to enjoy as visitors explore original 1932 GWR Engine Shed. Here, they can see more restored locomotives, access the footplate of some engines and meet Eddie the Engine Driver who will be telling festive tales of the railways at Christmas time. The refreshments are all included in the ticket price and come in the shape of mince pies and mulled wine/non-alcoholic punch which will be served to adults, while for children there's gingerbread and hot chocolate – with marshmallows of course!

Head of Visitor Experience & Marketing, Graham Hukins said "After a challenging year, we are determined to keep the magic of Christmas alive at the Centre. The experience we have gained operating in a Covid secure way from July to October will be invaluable and we have a Lockdown Guarantee that assures visitors of a free transfer to an alternative date or a refund should national or local restrictions mean we have to cancel any day to comply with Government guidelines.

"Of course, we are continuing to limit the number of people on site to keep everyone safe, so we expect tickets to sell out fast," he added.

Full details and bookings can be found on the Centre's website


19 October 2020

Didcot Railway Centre has been awarded £184,939 as part of the Government's £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) to help face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and to ensure the 21-acre living museum has a sustainable future, the Culture Secretary has announced.



15 June 2020

Didcot Railway Centre has announced it is to re-open to visitors from Saturday 4 July. The 21-acre open air site is implementing a series of measures to allow visitors to be welcomed safely, including limiting numbers and requiring tickets to be booked in advance for specific arrival times.

Initially, Open-Air Discovery Days will run on weekends and Wednesdays to allow visitors to explore the extensive outside spaces at the living museum with special outdoor displays and photo opportunities including historic steam engines, goods trains and a locomotive on the turntable.

The Centre's iconic Engine Shed dating from 1932 will also be available to visitors wishing to get close the collection of preserved locomotives and even climb onto the footplate of Hall Class engine No. 5900 "Hinderton Hall". Chief Executive, Emma Jhita said, "The safety and wellbeing of our visitors, volunteers and staff is paramount and we adapted our site to allow us to re-open and provide the reassurance that visitors need.

"There are one-way systems for the locomotive cab visit and through the carriage and wagon display area; socially-distanced waiting areas for some of the facilities such as the museum, toilets and gift shop; while our catering offer will restart as a take-away offer." she added.

Social distancing considerations mean that the a small number of indoor facilities where space is very confined (such as the original air-raid shelter) will remain closed initially but visitors will be able to see the towering coal stage; a carriage that was once in the Great Western Railway's Royal Train; surviving track from Brunel's broad gauge railway; beautiful, recreated stations; more than 20 preserved locomotives; dozens of wagons – many design for specific types of goods; and many other exhibits that represent almost 200 years of railway history.

Head of Visitor Experience, Graham Hukins said "Re-opening will be gradual, safe and in line with government guidance but there is plenty to discover and we're making use of the whole 21-acre site to ensure there is plenty of room for visitors to relax and enjoy a gentle stroll as they explore.

"Tickets for the Open-Air Discovery Days will also be valid for a second visit on one of our popular Steam Days when it is possible to resume running trains and re-open further facilities. Following almost four months of enforced closure, we expect these days to be popular." he added.

Further information about the Centre can be found at


Saint locomotive 299 and a vintage train at Didcot Railway CentreDidcot Railway Centre's unique Great Western Railway "Saint" Class locomotive has received a highly commended accolade in the prestigious Museums + Heritage Awards 2020 placing it in the top three restoration and conservation projects nationally.

The locomotive, No. 2999 'Lady of Legend', is a recreation of an iconic type of Great Western steam engine last seen in 1953 when the last of the original examples was scrapped. The £825,000 project was undertaken by a team of dedicated volunteers and took almost 24 years to complete with 2999 taking to the tracks in 2019.

To celebrate, the 2999 will be in steam and working passenger trains on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 October as part of the Centre's series of Autumn Steam Days. Visitor numbers are strictly limited and tickets must be booked in advance at The "Saints" were the blueprint on which the GWR based their designs for the first half of the 20th century. Examples of subsequent developments can be seen alongside 'Lady of Legend' at Didcot which houses the most extensive collection of locomotives from one railway company anywhere in the world.

Chief Executive, Emma Jhita, said, "This is wonderful news, a real tribute to the hard work and enthusiasm of the team here at Didcot. It is particularly rewarding to be recognised nationally, especially as we're not a conventional museum or gallery."

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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.

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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, 

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For further details, please refer to 

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

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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.


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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.

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