Published: 15th December 2014
To many Great Western Railway (GWR) enthusiasts, the 1905 built Old Oak Common Depot, located just a couple of miles west of Paddington, and represented a mechanical Mecca housing hundreds of locomotives until closure in 2009.
It was constructed under the instruction of George Jackson Churchward, the GWR’s Locomotive Superintendent when the GWR decided to relocate to Old Oak Common which was located between the main line to the west and the GWR main line to Birmingham, then known as the ‘Acton and Wycombe’.
The new depot was designed to accommodate all GWR locomotives based in the GWR ‘London District’. Its importance was reflected to the end of steam as it was designated the code of 81A, the top GWR engine shed designation.
The relocation also allowed better access to and from Paddington, especially the Goods Station there and the locomotive servicing and repair facility at Westbourne Park could no longer cope with the growing traffic and size of locomotives.
The huge new depot was designed to repair and service the GWR’s ever growing steam fleet with huge engine sheds built housing four turntables, an array of workshops, stores and offices. Turntables were favoured because it made moving locomotives around the depot easier when compared with traditional ‘dead-end’ type sheds. Carriages were also maintained there, although Swindon Works remained the construction Works for the GWR. The depot was also known as ‘The Factory’ reflecting its activities.
The depot switched to house diesels from the end of steam in around 1965 and carried on as an operational depot until 2009 when the Crossrail project took over the site. The last few years it was used as a dumping ground for stored locomotives and carriages.
Crossrail used the space to construct a cement tunnel segment factory which lasted for a few years and brought much building demolition. Now that the tunneling on the western section has been completed, Crossrail’s new Bombardier train depot will be constructed there. This is why all the GWR and diesel sheds have been demolished but all the buildings and surviving equipment were recorded for future reference.
The new 65 Crossrail trains are being built by Bombardier and will be over 200metres long and have been designed on tried and tested technology adapted to meet Crossrail’s requirements for a world-class, high performing and reliable train fleet.
Their interiors have been designed to speed up passenger flows onto and off the trains and will have level boarding in the central London stations, as with the London Underground. Wide interconnecting gangways between carriages will avoid a scramble in any one carriage for seats and seating layouts will accommodate passengers with restricted mobility.
Rail.co.uk is proud to be able to share a pictorial snapshot of Old Oak Common’s 109 year history to date.