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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!





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





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





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





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





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!





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.





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





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





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





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.





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.





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





...and the comfort is second to none.





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





...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.





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





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





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





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.





Elegance is the key word...





...station gardens are lovingly groomed...





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





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





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





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





Gangers may be encountered along the way...





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





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





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.





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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 :-) 

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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.

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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,



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





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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.

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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.

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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!

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


Thank you,




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


All very enjoyable, well done Mikkel



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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!

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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?

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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.

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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? 

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How did I miss this one, or have I just forgotten it?  No, must have missed it as it is brilliant.

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Thanks Chris. Seven years ago now, can't believe it! A good day though a bit rushed.

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Your N6 horsebox must have been in the pipeline back then, Mike. 


Went back and looked at the album from Didcot that day. Took a lot of detail shots - some were posted here. A couple more:







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