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Journey to Didcot - a Traveller's Guide

Posted by Mikkel , in Miscellaneous 22 April 2013 · 2,114 views

GWR Paddington Didcot Guide
Journey to Didcot - a Traveller's Guide Last week I was browsing a secondhand bookshop here in Copenhagen. Imagine my surprise when I suddenly came across a dog-eared copy of "A Traveller's Guide to the Great Western Railway" from 1926. What really got my attention, however, was that this was one of the rare illustrated versions, with photos by J. Peerybingle, a well-known photographer of the day.

Feigning complete indifference I managed to obtain the book for a very reasonable price. I particularly like the chapter entitled "Journey to Didcot", and have decided to reproduce it here. I hope I am not infringing on any copyright laws by doing so!

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Our journey begins at Paddington Station, that most famous of railway stations from where tracks reach out for thousands of miles across the Kingdom.

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Under these mighty arches the traveller may choose to commence his journey with a pleasant meal in one of the numerous dining establishments.

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Perhaps a Cornish pasty would suit the traveller? Surely a suitable choice for the Great Western traveller. Side-crimped, of course!

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Waiting rooms are to be found in several locations around the station concourse. Naturally, separate rooms are provided for Ladies.

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In preparation for the journey the traveller will want to synchronize his time-piece with that of the grand clock in the station hall. One can only wonder at the scenes this clock has witnessed!

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Should assistance be needed in finding one's train, the courteous station staff will be of assistance, as will the numerous timetables posted throughout the station.

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Porters are available for those who carry heavy luggage, and the station staff are always on hand to assist the less sure-footed.

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The Great Western Company provides a variety of services in the direction of Didcot, depending on the needs of the traveller.

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The fastest and most direct service is provided by the sleek expresses that stop only at the major stations.

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Even the most experienced traveller must marvel at the elegant liveries and the lovingly polished engines for which the company’s crack expresses are known around the world.

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Alternatively, the traveller may choose to go by stopping train. These provide a more sedate mode of travel, and an opportunity to fully experience the beauty of the countryside along the way.

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The interior of the stopping trains are a study in lavish design and tasteful colour selection...

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...and the comfort is second to none.

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As we embark on our journey, we soon pass Old Oak Common, the renowned locomotive depot of the Great Western Company...

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...where the observant traveller may be fortunate to see some of the graceful locomotive classes of the Great Western. Here it is one of the legendary Castle Class, namely Pendennis Castle sporting the well-known coat of arms.

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As we proceed along the line we observe many examples of the lineside industries that keep the wheels of our industrious nation turning...

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...and which are served by endless rows of heavy goods trains that cross the country from one end to the other.

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Indeed, whereever we look there is evidence of the country’s great reliance on our railways.

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As we stop at stations along the way, it is difficult not to be charmed by the railway architecture for which the Great Western Company is so well known.

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Elegance is the key word...

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...station gardens are lovingly groomed...

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...and local artists have enthusiastically helped decorate the station buildings.

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Everywhere we witness the company’s loyal dedication to personal and attentive service.

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At the stations the railway enthusiast has the opportunity to study the railway officials going about their duties.

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Several of the stations along the way provide opportunities for the traveller to connect with branchline services if he so desires.

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Gangers may be encountered along the way...

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...whose job it it is to ensure that the track is well maintained so that passengers may have a smooth and speedy ride.

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Indeed, the railway infrastructure itself is worthy of study as our train speeds westwards.

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As we gain sight of the company’s new coaling stage at Didcot we know our journey has come to an end. For the traveller who wishes to further explore this intriguing railway town, we refer to the next installment in our series.
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You must have brought that weather with you!
Nice selection of pics, an interesting juxtaposition in some cases!
Hope you enjoyed Didcot, I only live in Newbury so have been a fair few times. Never gets boring though.


cornish trains jez
Apr 22 2013 19:50
Lovely selection of photos! That pasty looks particularly nice!
Best regards,

I was lucky with the weather - this was on Saturday. In London for work last week and then suddenly realized I could just make a quick trip to Didcot if I changed my flight home.


The pasty is my attempt at taking the RMweb oath. I thought Paddington was an appropriate place to do it for a GWR enthusiast :-) 

What a fabulous photo montage Mikkel.At least some of the Great name lives on and some of the iconic Brunel masterpieces too.Look forward to part two.

Hi Mikkel,

This looks very familiar...

It's almost as if I have been there before...

Glad you got to see two Pendennis Castles in one day!

All the best,


Mikkel this is great! I can't wait for part 2! All I could hear was Bob Symes in my head!





Very well done Mikkel.


You had me chuckkling all the way. But my word, the Great Western we have now really is a shadow of it predecessor.

Thanks gents, for those of us who don't come to the UK often even a small trip like this is like a journey to Mecca :-)


It struck me that although an awful lot has changed, some things are still there just  being done in a different way. E.g. we always talk about how well-polished the engines were before BR, but those HSTs are pretty well polished too! Although not done by hand anymore of course.

Apr 23 2013 08:44

Michael Portillo, eat your heart out.

Iain C Robinson
Apr 23 2013 10:40

The inclusion of gratuitous pastie porn will ensure the fealty of the cornishmen on RMWeb! It's a lovely take on the original, beautifully and poignantly done. Those HST's are surely worthy of some kind of long-service medal, a wonder in themselves. One thing that really jars with me is the corporate colour scheme applied everywhere...of course it's a personal thing, but I don't think the purpley blue works on much, especially not the "heritage" structures. More, please!



Forgive the ignorance, but what is the location with the three gated tracks (No 1 STOP etc.)?


Thank you,




Love the " local artists have enthusiastically helped decorate the station buildings" quip!

All very enjoyable, well done Mikkel

Sidecar Racer
Apr 23 2013 12:22

Excellant , super photos and a good travellers tale in one hit .


More please .

Apr 23 2013 15:06

"second to none" always sounds dangerously close to "next to zero" to me.

Iain C Robinson
Apr 23 2013 16:24

I've just realised that, of course, there was no book, was there...? Genius!

Apr 23 2013 17:41

Looks like you had your 35mm with you?!


Brilliant stuff, love the water tower/coaling stage - nice to see some of the old stuff.  That Pasty genuinely made my mouth water - can't get them like that over here and I miss them like mad!

Hi all, thanks for brightening up the evening :-)


Yes I had the 35mm with me and took photos out the window along the way. Got some funny looks from fellow passengers, especially a group of gum-chewing, mobile-phone-juggling teenagers who clearly thought I was either a complete dinosaur or some weird creep - or both!


Photographing the pasty at Paddington raised no eyebrows though. Londoners are used to nutters I suppose!


I agree about the purple blue colour. Not so stylish. It does make you think though. In livery discussions I have sometimes heard the argument that a particular colour would never have been such and such a shade as it would simply have looked awful. But who says garish livery colours are only a thing of the present?

Forgive the ignorance, but what is the location with the three gated tracks (No 1 STOP etc.)?


Hello David, I had forgotten but have just checked on Google maps and it is at Langley. You can see it here:




I don't know what the purpose of the sidings used to be? There were some old low-loaders or similar among the bushes, you can just seem them on the Google maps photo if you look closely.

Brilliant - nuff said :D

Ta Pete :-)
I was interested in these new facilities being established between Reading and Tilehurst. I assume they are DMU/EMU storing/maintenance facilities? Does anyone know the reason/occasion for these new facilities? 

Does anyone know the reason/occasion for these new facilities?


See http://www.getreadin...cleaner-5168672

for a description of the official opening.  They will support the electrification of the Western main line.


I f you don't know it, there is a real travellers guide from 1839, available as a free download from http://archive.org/d...sternchel00wyld

Welcome to Farthing!

Attached Image: farthing2.jpg


This blog chronicles the building of "The Farthing layouts", a series of small OO layouts that portray different sections of a GWR junction station in Edwardian days.


Intro and concept
How to eat an elephant
Design principles
State of play


Gallery (1900-1904)
Four o'clock blues, ca. 1902
What really happened in the Cuban...
The honourable slipper boy (Part 1)
The honourable slipper boy (Part 2)
The honourable slipper boy (Part 3)


Gallery (1904-08)
The trials of Mr Bull
A most implausible arrival
A parcel for Mr Ahern
Blue skies and horse traffic
The Remains of the Day
Motley crew

Edwardian daydreams


Gallery (1914)
All in a day's work, Part 1
All in a day's work, Part 2
All in a day's work, Part 3
All in a day's work, Part 4


Out of period
Undecided sky (1867)
The sleeping giant (1887)
Bunker first (1927)
Fitted fish and piles (1947)


Once Upon a Time in the West
Summer silliness
The unbearable lightness...
Across the years
The Sidelight Job
Painting coach panels

Traverser testing


Low-tech pre-grouping stock

Short trains for short layouts
Short trains with a twist
Hand-me-down coaches
Low-tech coach restoration (1)
Low-tech coach restoration (2)
Low-tech coach restoration (3)
Low-tech coach restoration (4)
Low-tech coach restoration (5)


Sprat & Winkle couplings
3 plank Open in GWR red
Outside Framed 8 Ton Van

In the red: GWR 1900s wagon liveries
In loving memory...
Scratchbuilt one-planker (1)
Scratchbuilt one-planker (2)
MSWJR 3-plank dropside
LSWR 10 ton sliding door van
SDJR Road Van
LSWR stone wagon
Fake news and wagon sheets
Same but different: 1900s wagons


GWR 1854 Saddle Tank (1)
GWR 1854 Saddle Tank (2)
Shiny domes and safety valve covers
Backdating the Oxford Dean Goods (1)


C+L underlay and Carr's ballast
Experiments with C+L track
Comparing track
Messing about with track panels
Laying track on "The depot"


GWR horse-drawn trolley
GWR 5-ton horse-drawn vehicle
Parcels van and coal trolley


Fun with crates
Barrels, baskets, bales
Small crates and tea chests


Andrew Stadden 4mm figures
Backdated Monty's figures
Footplate crew
HO figures for an OO layout
Lesser known whitemetal figures


Constructing the Branch Bay
First bite: "The bay"
Simple structures for "The bay"
Platform trolleys and barrows
Signs, posters and adverts
Six lessons learnt


Constructing the Goods Depot
Second bite: "The depot"
Shunting Puzzle
Sketches of The depot
Soft body, hard shell
Kit-bashed roof structure
Dry Run
Dusting off the cobwebs
Playing with mirrors
Mezzanine floor
Progress on "The depot"
4mm slate roofing
The treachery of images

A roof for "The depot"

A tall bird from Paddington
Cranes for the depot
Shoulders of giants
Flight of the bumblebee


Constructing the Old Yard
Third bite: "The sidings"
Wagon propulsion
Progress on "The sidings"
Rising from slumber
The Biscuit Shed
A shed and a lock-up
Agricultural merchant's warehouse
Mr Gorbachev, tear down this wall
Stops, levers, plates, gauge, wall


Constructing the Stables
GWR Park Royal stable block
GWR stables - an overview


Railway modelling and Art
Moving Pictures
Season's greetings


Layout ideas
A flexible layout
Kicking back in Gloucester


Pre-grouping livery clippings
Journey to Didcot
Detail hunting at Didcot
Here's looking at you
The mists of time (and all that)
My friend the operating chair
Ready-to-plonk freight
GWR Modelling website


RMweb Workbench
Flickr photostream

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