Please note that the dates for these tours may vary from the guide below. No tours will be offered until international borders are open.
Some re evaluation on our programme today had to take place as this was the first day of the school holidays and there was to be a mass exodus of over 7,000,000 people relocating either within the UK or going abroad and reports were coming in of estimated blocked motorways etc. Not immediately affecting us but maybe as people all over the UK who are going overseas make their way to the various airfields and those figures were estimated as, Heathrow 500,000, Gatwick 250,000 and Manchester 170,000. So, as the Spa Valley Railway was not opening till 1045 and we had 150 miles to travel westward and much on the motorways to get around London as we were starting in the East, in Kent, I decided to leave at 0900 and forego Spa Valley and head straight the Didcot Railway Centre. 110 miles away. It was a good move as we encountered minimal delay as Michael had selected a route with various options should conditions worsen.
Our plan worked a treat and we arrived 90 minutes earlier than we had envisaged and this then gave us more time to enjoy Didcot Railway Centre. Didcot Railway Centre is adjacent to the main line and to gain access you enter the Train Station, walk through a tunnel under the main lines and emerge into quite a vast area that takes you back to the 1930s. The Centre is set in 25 acres of land once the maintenance centre for the Great Western Railway and much of the infrastructure used in that time is still there. The engine shed with over 25 Locomotives there to walk amongst, Locomotive Workshops where restoration was being carried out, Victorian Transfer Shed, original turntable, many reconditioned carriages, Brunel's Broad Gauge Loco, signal Centre, coal storage and coal loading system and much more including 2 running steam trains.
As there was so much to hold the enthusiast's interest we stayed till close on 1500 and then headed to the Queens Hotel in Cheltenham where we will stay for 2 nights. We enjoyed dinner together before retiring for the night. A long day that started with expected issues but turned out to be an excellent day set in railway history. Tomorrow awaits.