Reading to Didcot/Oxford

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ChrisM

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Call me thick but it the route between Reading and Dicot/Oxford called the Thames Valley or GW mainline or something totally different.
 
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ChrisM said:
Call me thick but it the route between Reading and Dicot/Oxford called the Thames Valley or GW mainline or something totally different.

Well London-Bristol via Didcot is the Great Western Main Line (The real one two:) ). I'm not sure that Didcot-Oxford has a name maybe the 'Thames Valley' route or something...
 

ChrisM

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Thanks,thought it was but have heard a few names for it.
 

Andrew

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Wikipedia likes to call Didcot to Banbury the Cherwell Valley line. Can't say I'd know what you were talking about if you said that - or Thames Valley route - though!
 

LucaZone

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I think the section from Oxford to Paddington is referred to as the Thames Valley, but not sure if this had anything to do with Thames Trains running it?
 

Andrew

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LucaZone said:
I think the section from Oxford to Paddington is referred to as the Thames Valley, but not sure if this had anything to do with Thames Trains running it?

Yes, probably. But I guess Thames Trains came from the Thames Turbos/Thames Express. So basically from NSE sectors.
 

Bill EWS

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Hi,
Can't add much to the enquiry. In the 40 years I worked over the lines it was just the Birmingham Route. Some of you may know that the curve from the station to Didcot North was known as the "Chester Line". When I first moved to Didcot there was a stopping/Semi-fast DMU service from Didcot to Chester via Wolverhampton Low Level. Numerous freight, parcel and Postal trains for the north & Birmingham also used Chester curve. We have always referred to it as the 'Up & Down' Chester Line.

Didcot Crew had a night freight, with two x Class 56's (33's) too and from Oxley Yard over this route. Prior to that, when steam hauled it was a lodging turn via Worcester and Kidderminster but the diesels made it an out and back turn, albeit a very long one. However, it was also a very interesting turn as you went through Birmingham Snow Hill and Wolverhampton L.L. and many interesting places inbetween and was at the tail end prior to the Snow Hill to Wolverhampton GWR line closing.

The avoiding line around the north of Didcot (east to north) was known as the 'Avoider' or the 'Gully'. Controlled by Didcot East Jct and North Jct signalboxes. There were four tracks around the 'Gully' from Appleford Signalbox to Didcot East Jct and the up goods to Moreton Yard, beyond East Junction. East Junction was still quite extensive as the junction was still intact with the Didcot, Newbury & Southampton branch, as well as a short goods spur into Riche's Sidings. There was a 2-3 times a week shunt into Riche's sidings by the Yard shunter. I recall that it was mostly a single fuel oil tank wagons but household coal was probably still being delivered too. It was on this turn and waiting for the signal on the Newbury bay platform line to clear for us to go into the sidings that I watched the passenger train splitting as it came off the down main line, across the down relief and onto the down avoider, that I told you about in my last story.

The worst incident at Didcot North was with the 'Long Tom' petrol train. 45 x 48 ton petrol tanks and 2 x 56's (33's). When, on departing from North Jct towards Oxford a light steam loco reversed back through the trap points at the south end of the Appleford goods line and collided sideways with the tank train, derailing and setting numerous wagons on fire, which melted track and the steel footbridge as well as polluting the stream with fuel oil. The light locomotive was also extensively damaged and burned. Thankfully no-one was injured. I think I am right in saying that it was in 1964 just prior to my coming to Didcot and it was still being talked about then and I was lucky to have heard stories of the incident first hand from the driver and fireman of the petrol train and also the Oxford driver of the steam loco. In spite of the seriousness of the incident it really was down to a basic and very human misunderstanding between the driver and the signalman.

The north to west line was called the 'West Curve'. The signalboxes at each end were Foxhall Junction and Didcot North Jct. The most regular passenger train that used the curve was the York-Bournemouth 'Pines Express, which came down via the G.C.R. at Woodford Halse and Banbury and departed from the curve around 5.30 in the morning. We often travelled home on this train off a late turn that concluded at Banbury, or sometimes from Oxford. It was booked to stop at Foxhall Jct to set down train crew travelling home or to a job. This train originally traveled over the Didcot - Newbury & Southampton branch.

We refered to the Paddington-Bristol-Swansea as simply The Western Mainline and the Reading to Taunton as the Berks & Hants and further on as The West Country. What the present train operators call it today I have no idea, seeing that they don't own the line and only run the services they can call it whatever they like but it will always be The Great Western Mainline. Seems pointless trying to call them anything else.

Didcot had seven platforms then. No. 2 was the Newbury Bay platform and No. 3 the West Bay Platform. What us now platform 5 was platform 7. The changeover came just after M.A.S. was introduced from Reading Panel. The Newbury platform was virtually unused except for ocassional storage of wagons but the West Bay was still used for the Didcot to Swindon local passenger services, which stopped at Steventon, Challow, Uffington, Shrivenham and Stratton St. Margaret Stations. I'm not sure if Stratton was still in use then but I remember the station being quite complete at the time and I remember it slowly being dismantled, as of course, were all the stations along the line.

The interesting thing about this one or two coach local train was that it more than often had a King or Castle at the front, all looking spick & span. They were used on this service for running-in trials after being serviced at Swindon Works. It made a very interesting image starting away from the west bay. I can imagine you present day Trainspotters drooling at the thought, now that it is yet another Class 66 or Multiple Unit that runs past.

At the time too Didcot crew worked the 'Swindon Fly', which was a local pick-up goods train. Stopping all stations and yards down to Swindon and back to Didcot. It usually had a Hall Class loco in my time. I remember one trip, during the time that steam was being run-down and we had a couple of dead steam loco's in the train. Running down to Challow, we received a 'red' flag from the signalman and pulled up alongside the signalbox. Without a word the signalman came down from the signalbox and ran past us back along our train. He climbed onto one of the loco's, which I think was a Pannier Tank, and after a moment or two of hammering and banging, an item was thrown onto the ballast and down he came from the loco and dragging the item, which was some form of steam guage, with him. He climbed back into the signalbox and gave us a 'green' hand signal! and off we set having a good chuckle to ourselves at his audacity. The then 'young' signalman will be known to many of you, as he became well-known from writing books about the railway and his time at Challow signalbox. Adrian Vaughne, no less.

Regards.

BillEWS.
 
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