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Thursday 16th April 2020 Didcot Parkway Station, Station Rd, Didcot OX11 7NJ

A rare chance to capture cameo scenes featuring at least three pioneering diesel railcars at Didcot

Join us at Didcot Railway Centre for a rare opportunity to photograph at least three and possibly four pioneering railcars in cameo period scenes reflecting their days in service from 1903 until the mid-1960s.


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About this event

Join us for one of our more unusual events of 2020 as we visually reflect on some of the historic railway vehicles which in their own individual ways paved the way for the trains we know today. In terms of introduction they date from 1903 through until 1958 and to have them all together in one place is extremely rare.
Visiting are Maschinenbau railbus M79964 from the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway and North Eastern Railway AutoCar No.3170 from the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Railway. These will appear alongside resident GWR ‘Flying Banana’ Railcar W22W in chocolate and cream livery and (to be confirmed) GWR Steam Railmotor No.93 in maroon livery.
Our day will see us posing up the railcars at appropriate locations around the site including the branch line which will suit both W22W for the period from 1940 up until 1948 and the period 1958-67 for the Maschinenbau railbus. At Oxford Road at the far end of the main demonstration line we will pose up the NER AutoCar No.3170 in its striking red and cream livery as this fits the branch line less convincingly than the other vehicles.
Although we will concentrate on cameo scenes using each vehicle from differing eras individually, we will also try and arrange a line-up of all four vehicles outside the shed. We will have crew properly attired and a number of re-enactors who will be able to represent differing time periods to match the relevant vehicle we are using for each cameo scene, which will ensure we get the maximum photographic reward from each scenario we set up.
The most modern of the visitors is the Waggon & Maschinenbau four-wheel railbus from the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. M79964 was built in 1958 and was one of an experimental batch of smaller railcars which were trialled on lightly used branch lines. Five out of a total of 22 were built by Maschinenbau and four of these have been preserved. They seated between 46 and 56 passengers and the other experimental vehicles were built by British companies. The four-wheel railcars appeared at locations as diverse as Ayr in Scotland, Saffron Waldron in Essex and Bodmin in Cornwall. It was hoped that they would help reduce the losses being incurred by British Railways on rural branch lines and in this respect they were largely successful. However, the closure culture at that time meant that the losses were still deemed too great and the routes on which they were operating began to be closed. Some were trialled on the Western Region so are not out of place against a backdrop of former GWR infrastructure. They worked the Kemble to Cirencester and Kemble to Tetbury lines in Gloucestershire, Bodmin to Wadebridge and Yeovil Junction to Yeovil Town and to Yeovil Pen Mill. It is finished in the dark green of British Railways with small yellow warning panel, truly a product of the 1950s railway scene.
The older visitor is North Eastern Railway AutoCar No.3170 which dates back to 1903. When introduced in 1903, the Electric Autocar was a truly pioneering vehicle. Designed by Vincent Raven, the Assistant Chief Mechanical Engineer of the North Eastern Railway, two of these railcars, 3170 and 3171, were introduced and initially used between Hartlepool and West Hartlepool; they later worked between Scarborough and Filey and then on the Selby to Cawood branch line. No.3170 was later paired with a trailer to increase passenger carrying capacity and received a more powerful engine and generator to enable it to haul this additional vehicle. Both autocars survived into the 1930s though were withdrawn early in the decade, upon which 3170 was sold out of service for use as a holiday home, a transaction which ultimately ensured its survival. The Autocars were the first railway passenger vehicles in the world to be powered using an internal combustion engine. They carried a Diesel engine which drove a dynamo which in turn provided power to the electric motors. They also had the first electric track brakes used on railways. In its restored guise, 3170 is powered by a more modern diesel engine - the LNER actually considered this option for one of the vehicles - though in all respects its outward appearance represents the ambiance and aesthetics of the 1900s.
The Great Western built 38 railcars between 1933 and 1942 with earlier examples becoming known as ‘Flying Bananas’. W22W is a classic vehicle by any standards and is celebrating its eightieth year in 2020. Built in 1940, W22W entered service from Newport Depot in September of that year. A number of allocations followed with the vehicle’s latter years being spent in the Worcester area. After withdrawal in 1962 and a period of storage at Swindon, the Midland Group of the Great Western Society purchased W22W in 1967. It moved to the then embryonic Severn Valley Railway in 1967 and later to Didcot Railway Centre in 1978 where it remains in full working order. It is the only operational vehicle of the three preserved examples and is finished in chocolate and cream livery, therefore representing the period 1940 to Nationalisation in January 1948 in terms of appearance.
The visiting railcars will only be at Didcot for a period of a few days to appear at Easter for the public and then on this special TimeLine photographic event. We hope you will want to join us in April for what should be an interesting and unusual day of photography.
Our day will begin at 08:00 to take advantage of the morning light and will finish up at around 17:00.

Event requirements


  • Spare batteries
  • Camera
  • Lenses
  • Camera protection - rain covers etc


  • All levels welcome


  • Low

Other essentials

  • Sturdy outdoor shoes
  • Warm clothing
  • Wet weather gear

Event location

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