Pendon Museum and Didcot Raiway Centre – 1
Last weekend, 23/24 October, my wife and I spent a weekend visiting the above venues. We stayed in the Premier Inn at Oxford South (I can only assume that Premier Inn are embarssed by Didcot and feel Oxford South has a better ring to it!). Having said that, the place was clean and comfortable and surprisingly quiet given its proximity to the main A34 road.
We started on Saturday at Pendon Museum and it has to be around 20 years since my last visit so I was interested to see what progress has been made in the intervening years.
As you go into the main part of the museum, you are greeted with several information panels outlining the history and philosophy of the venture, together with some railway aretefacts.
The first room contains the Madder Valley layout built by John Ahern in the 1940s. It is considered to be one of the first layotus to encompass serious scenic work, particularly in the buildings. Whilst it looks a bit crude by today’s standards, one has to remember the materials that were avilable back then – nothing like the sophisticated materials and techniques we have today!
Moving on to the next room is the iconinc Dartmoor scene, featuring a Brunel timber viaduct and Per Tor Road junction station. This usually has a parade of trains from the 1930s period along with a commentary but unfortunately, not a lot was happening. However, it didn’t detract from the splendour of the model. Looking for detail cameos under the viaduct, such as the hoverign kestrel, was interesting.
From there you move to what I suppose could be copnsidered the main scene – the Vale of White Horse layout. This is definitely where I was able to detect progress since my last visit. The station was more complete and the village has considerably more buildings than last time. However, it is possible to see buildings in situ still under construction so there is much to be done. We were told by one of the staff that the founder, Roye England, set out a list of buildings he wanted to include and they are still working to that list 60-70 years later. We were also told that whenever he was asked how long it would be until completion, Roye always said “About 25 years.”. No doubt, that is still the case!
The following photo of the church illustrates that there are scenes yet to be completed.
This shows the details of how the buildings are constructed.
More later on the visit in part two when we will look at Didcot Railway Centre.