1 Didcot power station as it is remembered. Courtesy of  Phil Marsh

Didcot Railway Centre’s Presentation and Diesel Holiday weekend

Published 13th May 2013

County Set behind the scenes tour at Didcot on July 27

The Great Western Society (GWS) at Didcot Railway Centre is to hold the ‘Great Didcot Diesel Shed Bash’ over the Spring Bank Holiday weekend of May 25 to 27. The railway centre has a main line connection and around six main line diesel locomotives from the 1960s will be using that facility to spend the holiday weekend on display and in action on ntheir demonstration lines.

Didcot may not have a long running line but the benefits of this allow visitors to get close to the exhibits and cab visits will be available during the event. The visiting diesels will be taking turns to haul passenger trains on the railway centre’s main demonstration line when not on static display. Two of Didcot’s own diesels, the shunter 08 604 and vintage GWR railcar No. 22 will be operating on the railway centre’s demonstration branch line.

Diesel enthusiasts are known for being a thirsty bunch and ‘The Black Python’ real ale bar will also be open for the three day event!

Didcot Power Station diesel nameplate presented to Didcot Railway Centre

The landmark Didcot Power Station closed its coal powered boilers a little while ago and a locomotive nameplate Didcot Power Station, has been presented to Didcot Railway Centre, so that it will remain permanently on display in the town.

The nameplate is identical to those carried on the British Railways built Class 58 diesel locomotive, No. 58 014. This used to haul the merry-go-round coal trains for RWE npower's coal-fired Didcot A Power Station just to the west of Didcot Railway Centre. In the picture Phil Noake, Station Manager - Didcot A Power Station, (right) is handing the plate to Roger Orchard, Railway Centre Manager.

The freight locomotive No. 58014 was named on 11 June 1988 by Dr Caroline Jackson, who was then Member of the European Parliament for the Wiltshire constituency. The locomotive was scrapped in 2010 and was displayed in the control room of Didcot A Power Station until it closed after 43 years of generating electricity, on 22 March.

County Day and nameplate display on July 27 2013

There are many ongoing locomotive projects at Didcot behind the scenes. One is the recreation of a GWR ‘County’ locomotive which were all scrapped around 50 years ago. A conversion is taking place from a scrapyard GWR engine being used as a donor for the recreation.

Wheeling will take place towards the end of the year, a bit later than planned because of a delay in receiving a piece of lining-up kit from a supplier. The tender frames will be assembled by late summer while on the July 27 ‘County Day’ there will be a display of 22 ‘County’ locomotive nameplates. 16 of these are the straight Hawksworth designed variety and a further six are the curved (Churchward) versions. There will also be some ‘County’ numberplates on display but crucially, both County of Glamorgan plates from 1014 will be there.

Why County of Glamorgan?

This is to acknowledge the assistance of that county where the famous Barry Scrapyard was located and the final 10 engines known as ‘The Barry 10’ from there were rescued by that Council for preservation.

The County Project so far has made good progress with the overhaul of the locomotive horn guides and main axleboxes, and it is planned to fit the overhauled bogie and newly manufactured 6’ 3” driving wheels to Hawksworth County 4-6-0 No 1014 County of Glamorgan during 2013.

Behind the scenes on July 27

This progress can be seen at the Didcot July 27 ‘County Day’ when Society Members and the public will be able to inspect the locomotive and talk to the Project Team. By then, the team expect the locomotive will carry a completed cab and running plate. If time allows, the cab will be painted in BR express passenger green livery, fully lined out, and will sport its replica numberplate. The locomotive’s replica nameplates should also be fitted to the splashers/running plate.

The locomotive is normally out of bounds to visitors and rail.co.uk would like to thank the GWS for a private guided tour and would recommend that others take the chance to see behind the scenes for themselves.

In addition to the ‘County’ nameplate and number plate display, curved plates off the earlier Churchward ‘County’ 4-4-0s will also be on show with as many as possible of the surviving plates from both 10xx and 38xx classes being shown.

The entrance to the Railway Centre is via Didcot Parkway railway station, under an hour from Paddington, Bristol and Cardiff by train.

Written by Phil Marsh.

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