Didcot Railway Centre
Didcot Railway Centre
4
Speciality Museums • Rail Services
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10:30 AM - 4:00 PM
Wednesday
10:30 AM - 4:00 PM
Thursday
10:30 AM - 4:00 PM
Friday
10:30 AM - 4:00 PM
Saturday
10:30 AM - 4:00 PM
Sunday
10:30 AM - 4:00 PM
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About
Didcot Railway Centre is a living history museum of the Great Western Railway set in 21 acres alongside Didcot Parkway Station. From Brunel's Broad Gauge to the modern trains running past, Didcot Railway Centre's unique collection of buildings, locomotives, carriages, wagons and other artefacts shows how the Great Western Railway developed to be the premier railway company of the 1940s.
Suggested duration
More than 3 hours
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Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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4.0
721 reviews
Excellent
385
Very good
210
Average
64
Poor
33
Terrible
29

Minnie82
Clevedon Somerset134 contributions
Jul 2021
Our adult daughter had booked the 3 of us in for a 10am visit, so we stayed in Didcot the night before. That gave us the opportunity to get our bearings, and local directions are certainly confusing. The first one coming in from the West..a brown sign with a steam train logo on, going off to the left ,was not useful. (Second sign to left is).During that previous evening we also saw parking over the road from the mainline station, which we thought might be the correct place. ..but which with hindsight appeared to be for commuters and was full when we looked over to it next morning.However the best advice is to download the ap What/Three/Words which divides the country into specific squares, rather like map references used to! That led us to the huge car park , including multi-storey which is the preferred parking space. We paid £7.50 for the day as didn’t want to be constrained by time.From there, there are steps and open walkways over the tracks and down again to the station, then under the tracks through the tunnel to the railway centre. I advise wearing or carrying rainwear unless fine weather is guaranteed.
We had been instructed to be there on time, which we were, so it was particularly annoying to then find the gates closed, and no-one came to tell us (and several families with young children) what the problem was. It was raining so we had to keep going back into the tunnel under the rail tracks to shelter, with intermittent checks to see if anyone had appeared. After about 20 minutes someone came and opened up and apologised. They said they had been shunting stock around so it hadn’t been safe, but as they were moving trains around throughout the day that explanation seemed rather thin.
There was plenty to see, and my husband(the train enthusiast )was in his element, so his evident delight made the trip worthwhile. Obviously showery weather made it more tricky to wander about, but there were engine sheds etc to visit when the rain was heaviest. As I remember steam travel from my childhood ,I found interest in the decor of railway carriages, old photos and posters of destinations etc to revive my nostalgia. Our daughter found plenty to interest her too..especially the demonstration of the turntable in use, the signalling controls, etc but I think she got most pleasure from our nostalgic interest and stories from our past. We also enjoyed seeing the interest of young children in all things train related.
We enjoyed cake and coffee in the cafe, and spent a while in the gift shop during heavy rain, where we made some purchases.
We found all staff to be friendly and informative.
Written July 30, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Minnie Many thanks for your review, we're pleased you had a good day.
Written August 3, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

stingytownman
Huntingdon, UK880 contributions
Aug 2022 • Couples
Booked a visit to the centre while touring Oxfordshire and though parked in the wrong place, a multi storey some distance from it with a long badly signposted ramp way which taking you to Didcot main railway station which you have to walk through to reach the centre. The place is definitely worth the visit wherever you park however with two or three steam trains running all day down different sections of quite short track. There is one huge beast running on the longer line parallel to the main network rail line meaning you can see steam competing with electric and a smaller train on a shorter line at the other side of the centre. You can ride all day if you want to or ride and visit the many static trains and carriages on display in the sheds or on the sections of line dotted around the exhibit. There is a small cafe and shop in the middle of the centre selling hot and cold food and ever member of staff seems happily dedicated in whatever task they are doing. It would have been nice to see inside more of the carriages particularly the Caledonian sleeper as it wasn’t that long ago I was on one, but do understand there is a health and safety aspect to letting people have too much freedom to wander.
Written August 18, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
So pleased you enjoyed it. Next time ask and we will get you to see inside some more carriages
Written August 25, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Barry B
Hoddesdon, UK1,328 contributions
Jul 2021
A Christmas present was a day out for two at DRC, some slight issues in booking the right day, but help from Chrissy in visitor services sort this out - Thanks

Arriving at the appointed time, walked though the main line station and up the steps, (there is no step free access, and the surfaces mean that wheelchair access is extremely difficult).

Nice welcome on the platform from a man who explained the history of the site and God Wonderful Railway.

A steam ride to the other end of site, oh joy! Then we walked back though the site rather than taking the diesel shuttle. Some great examples of steam engines, early diesels and coaches.

All the staff on site are really friendly and happy to share their knowledge.

The cafe is extremely good, chicken goujons and chips,freshly cooked a joy and very reasonably priced. Nice cakes as well and great refuelling stop.

We would recommend this as a day out.
Written July 10, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Many thanks for your review, we look forward to welcoming you again soon.
Written August 3, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Rebecca R
Reading, UK51 contributions
Dec 2021 • Family
No Christmas magic at all!

We paid £70 for 3 of us- 2 adults & our 16 month old. We nearly didn’t book it as it was originally £50 & then they stuck £20 booking fee on top for some reason, but my husband decided we should go for it. This is the first Xmas that our boy Is aware of what’s going on & loves trains so thought this would be a great visit!
I have to say we were very underwhelmed & there was not a lot of Xmas magic at all.
The initial train ride was good fun even though not decorated for Xmas, and was a bit of a wait in the bitter cold! Not fun with a small one.
There was then a bit of a queue for Santa & was nice to take some pics but again the magic just wasn’t there! No music, had some decs up but could have been lit up more with some lights as was getting quite dark by late afternoon. Santa was stood away on a train and the present rolled down on a ramp by a young person with an elf hat on. Was nice to be greeted & have a pic with the old guy as an elf first but why couldn’t you do that with SantaZ
too?? The elf also would have made for a better Santa as he had an actual very long beard.

The train then took you to the central part & got given a tiny hot choc each & mince pie at this little tent. I mean for £70 could we not have had a bigger hot choc? It was freeeezing!

There was a brass band playing as we left but that would have been nice to hear in the centre.

I definitely wouldn’t recommend this place as a Xmas event, but maybe on a normal day at probably half the price then maybe…
Written December 5, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hi I am sorry you were disappointed. The weather was terrible which never helps! This was our first day and we will take your comments on board and improve the Santa experience. Drinks and food are supplied in small sizes to suit children but refills are not restricted.
Written December 9, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Louise S
Marlow, UK143 contributions
Dec 2021 • Family
We booked tickets for 4 of us at a cost of £86. We didn't feel the experience represented this value. The primary reason for our visit was for our kids (boys age 3 and 5) to meet Santa. Whilst I get this can't be changed, the venue is very exposed with little shelter. It was bitterly
cold for our kids and very windy on the day we visited which was not pleasant given there are limited sheltered areas.

We were given a time for our santa train and boarded. It was not well organised or clear what we were supposed to do. We got into our carriage and the train went up and down for about 10 minutes then we had to get off. The train was not decorated at all and no staff showed us what to do. There was confusion when we got off. We figured out we needed to go to another shed though there were no signs. Inside was santa but he was up high and an elf slid presents down a chute to our kids. Santa said hello but didn't engage at all. It was utterly disappointing. I get social distancing is in place but he could have asked them if they had been good and what they had on their Christmas list. The boys had been thinking all morning what to tell him and were upset they didn't get a chance - it was the whole point of our visit! That's why you take your kids to see santa! Unforgivable.

The gifts we were given were plastic rubbish. They were not age appropriate (both the 3 and 5 year old got the same plastic diggers) and were gender biased. In this day and age most places are now moving away from pink and blue parcels. Big disappointment.

After seeing santa we had to wait ages for another train with only 1 carriage to shuttle us back towards the main part. We weren't sure what was happening which led to us missing the first train and having to wait 10 minutes on a very drafty cold platform for the next one despite having been at the front of the queue for the first one. The journey back was 5 minutes.

There was an opportunity for refreshments when we got off the train but there was a long wait inside a crowded tent and no dairy free options for our kids. As the covid risk was too high to go in we were unable to partake. We left straight after.

In all we came away in under 1.5 hours very disappointed and feeling like we had been ripped off. We wouldn't recommend it. Neither child enjoyed it. It was a waste of money.
Written December 5, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
The weather was foul and it was our first open weekend. I am sorry you were disappointed and we take your criticism and work to improve our event. All the presents are by nature gender neutral but the packing colour does help us to give a present that will not be unwrapped and returned as unwanted which would happen in a large percentage our presents if not managed in anyway. Returned presents would need to have been destroyed as I am sure you would not want a previously opened present given to your child. We had over a thousand visitors on the day and our visitor survey of the day was very positive. Please visit us in the Summer when you will feel more comfortable with the weather and hopefully Covid will be less worrying for you.
Written December 9, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Natalie9628
Thame, UK9 contributions
Aug 2020 • Family
Very disappointed and soggy. Completely understand that we need to socially distance but it was pouring down today and we had to queue outside to get into everything and there was no shelter. Considering the cost to get in, I wouldn’t have thought it too much to expect a few pop up gazebos but there was nothing.

When I asked if we could stay on the train as we have a 6 month old baby and a 2 year old the member of staff said “I’ll tell that to all the people at the back of the queue stall I”?!

We spent £27 on 2 adult tickets and another £4.40 on 3 hours parking as we had assumed we’d stay for the afternoon. We left after a miserable hour.

Might be good to visit on since day but I won’t bother going back.
Written August 19, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Natalie - thank you for visiting and for your review. We are sorry to hear that the inclement weather spoilt your day. You are right that we have not reopened a small number of enclosed indoor areas as our first priority is to ensure the safety of our visitors, volunteers and staff. The spacious Engine Shed, carriage display and the mixed gauge Burlescombe Station are all large undercover areas with room for social distancing. The train rides are unlimited but to be fair to all visitors we do ask people to alight and rejoin the queue at busy times and we are restricting numbers to 25% of our usual capacity to ensure that there is space for everyone to relax and explore the Centre safely. Thanks once again for visiting and for taking the trouble to leave a review.
Written August 20, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Trevor R
1 contribution
Jul 2022
I visited on a ‘steam running day’ especially to photograph Pendennis Castle which was rostered to be running that day, only to find it in the shed being worked on and definitely not in steam. Now I know that these things happen and can’t be helped but there was only one loco outside the shed plus a small tank loco. There were so few people and staff around that I started to wonder if I should be there at all. I had the impression that visitors were ‘put up with’ rather than welcomed. This after spending £20 on train fare and standing both ways did not go down very well.
Compare this with a visit to the Blubell Railway a week later when again the loco I wanted to photograph had failed and would not be running. It was hauled into the station where people could take their photos.
Written August 2, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
I am sorry you had nonproductive visit. I would be delighted to welcome you back and give you a behind the scenes tour - personally to make amends. These things do happen but it is not acceptable that you felt you were not important to us as a visitor.
Written August 8, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Ken J
Birmingham, UK1,036 contributions
Aug 2021
Nice big open space ideal post Covid with 2 demonstration lines normally running steam engines, although Broad gauge and many standard gauge locomotives are display only as their boiler certificates have expired. Very helpful staff including directors, plus currently a visiting steam locomotive in service. The train rides are free and you can go on them as often as you like. It is a very large collection of locomotives etc right down to small artefacts so give yourself time to see everything or just to get around the site. Access is via Didcot station subway and there is a car park opposite or you can use the multi-storey station car park, which was being built the last time I visited. Could make better use of the trackwork outside the shed rather than just storing engines inside it. Pity to see things like the tool vans from Taunton needing a coat of paint - they need some TLC
Written August 10, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hi Thanks for the good review. We are working hard to paint exhibits but we need more volunteers. Join us?
Written November 10, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

duke68012
Bury, UK117 contributions
Sep 2020
Since watching a documentary as a baby (yes a baby) I became obsessed with wanting to visit Dicot Railway Centre, finally at the age of 27 I made my first visit.

The museum isn't particularly easy to get to or well sign posted, having to go through the mainline station to gain access to the site. However once there you are immersed in the GWR of the golden age.

Compared to most museums or heritage railways the site is fairly "access all areas/free rooming". There is no clean concrete next to well lit exhibits or prohibitve barriers. Its a unique opportunity to roam freely across real working yards and engine sheds. Explore the locos in their "natural habitat" and see what a real working shed looks like. Albeit a millenial's nightmare when it comes to health and safety its also great to be able to feel free to roam and see it all in action. HOWEVER I would imagine this also makes it difficult for access restricted guests such as wheelchairs given uneven surfaces.

The museum has so much to see and do with lots of land to explore as well as a great opportunity to ride in period GWR carriages (no standard BR MK1 carriages here). it's a great day out for all the family. A large picnic area allows for families to enjoy food outside amongst the trains and exhibits. I would recommend taking your own food though as we didn't find the catering to be of a high variety or standard.

We were lucky to visit on a day with decent weather but as much of the museum is open air/outdoors I would image during wind and rain it's possibly a less enjoyable experience.

a special mention must go also to the hard working volunteers who are informative and passionate about the railway.

The only thing to mention is that some stock/exhibits seem to be kept in immaculate condition while others seem to be less so (not including the stock which is clearly awaiting refurbishment).
Written September 6, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Many thanks for your very full and helpful review. We are pleased that you had a great time with us and we hope to welcome you back soon. You are absolutely right about our wonderful volunteers and we'll share your feedback with the team.
Written September 7, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

Peter F
1 contribution
Sep 2022 • Family
Had a wonderful time at the steam railway today but parking was a Nightmare. Tried to use RingGo but am still waiting for them to verify the App..
I eventually found the rail car park further up the road which was a bit of a walk but worth it.

Didn’t help that there was a. Bus service from the station for rail passengers which added to the amount of traffic.

Cafe was OK noticed they only had 3 stars which probably needs working on. Queue was very long as only one lady working behind the counter and a very slow coffee machine which again needs improving. Quality of the food was OK But little for vegetarians.
Written September 24, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Unfortunately the car parking is not ours and we cannot influence them to improve their service. I am pleased you enjoyed your visit.
Written September 27, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of Tripadvisor LLC.

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Didcot Railway Centre - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

Frequently Asked Questions about Didcot Railway Centre

Didcot Railway Centre is open:
  • Wed - Sun 10:30 AM - 4:00 PM


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