Great Western Society Limited

Great Western Society Limited

Charity information

Great Western Society Limited

The GWS exists to preserve the history of the Great Western Railway. It operates Didcot Railway Centre where many operational locomotives, items of rolling stock and other historic artefacts are based

Founded 1961

  • Mission statement

    The Great Western Society exists to conserve and preserve the history and artefacts of the Great Western Railway and its successor, the Western Region of British Railways. It operates Didcot Railway Centre, a former locomotive depot in Oxfordshire, where many steam locomotives, carriages, goods wagons and small items are preserved. As well as the original engine shed, demonstration lines have been established on the site and railway structures, including stations, have been brought to Didcot from all parts of the GWR system for reconstruction.

    A key aim is to enable people to experience railway travel as it was in past eras, as well as explaining the history of the Great Western Railway and the part it played in the social history of the nation.

    The Society also offers many opportunities for people to become involved with its conservation projects, thus perpetuating skills that may otherwise disappear.

    A particular focus is the filling of gaps in GWR history. Recent examples have been the re-creation of a section of Brunel's broad gauge railway, complete with a working locomotive and rolling stock, and the restoration from derelict condition of an original 1908 steam railmotor, the forerunner of today's multiple unit trains. Current projects include the re-creation of a 'Saint' class locomotive – probably the biggest single influence of British steam engine design – and a 47XX class fast freight locomotive.

    Education and interpretation is at the heart of all we do.

  • Aims

    Great Western Society Limited aims to:

    • To preserve and conserve all items relating to the history and operation of the former Great Western Railway and its successor, the Western Region of British Railways.
    • To enable people to experience what rail travel was like in past eras, as well as fostering an understanding of the history of the Great Western Railway in context of the development of the nation.
    • To use continuing programmes of education and interpretation to communicate a deeper understanding of British railway and engineering history among younger people in particular.
    • To perpetuate dying skills by involving members of the wider community in the Society's preservation and conservation projects.
  • Overview

    Established: April 1961

    Registered Charity Number: 272616

    Board members: 9

    Full time staff: 2

    Part time staff: 4

    Volunteers: 100

    Phone number: 01235 817200

    Address: Didcot Railway Centre Didcot Oxfordshire OX11 7NJ

    View charity accounts on the Charity Commission website
  • Great Western Society 47XX Project

    The Project is building a new example of G J Churchward's final masterpiece, the 47XX 2-8-... More