Saturday, 29th April, 2023

Our day started with breakfast at McDonald's (again) and very nice it was too! Unfortunately, there had been an accident on the roundabout right next to McDonald's. A car was on its roof. This made it very slow to get out of McDonald's and on our way to Didcot Railway Centre. We then had a bit of trouble finding it. Both Apple and Google Maps took us to the wrong place! Luckily it was only slightly wrong and after about another 10 minutes we arrived. The weather was sunny and I didn't even need a jumper. It was a special day at the museum and they had three steam locomotives functioning.

This building is a Coal Stage. It was used to tip the coal from the wagon on the right down to a locomotive tender which would be waiting on the left.

The Station Master's office (he's a dummy)

This photo shows the shine on the "King George" locomotive (seen in the video above)!

One of several signal boxes on the site (it's 21 acres).

This is the oldest operational standard gauge steam locomotive in Britain. It was built at Manchester in 1863.

The "Drysllwyn Castle" was built in 1936

The "King Edward II" was built in 1930.

6106 was built at Swindon in May 1931, and withdrawn from the Oxford depot in December 1965.

6998 ‘Burton Agnes Hall’ emerged from Swindon Works in January 1949, going initially to Cardiff's Canton depot. She survived until withdrawal by BR from Oxford in January 1966 after being honoured as the engine chosen to work the Western Region's last steam-hauled passenger train.

This is the "Shannon" which was built in 1857.

This video is a recording provided to show how to control a locomotive. The flashing red lights are to indicate which control is being spoken about.

We learned that, if all the screws in a certain part (such as a window frame) are aligned, then the restoration was of a high quality.

We had a very pleasant few hours at Didcot Railway Centre and enjoyed several short (as in about 500 metres) steam train rides. We were both very tired so we decided to go back to our accommodation for a bit of time out before attending Evensong at Christ Church Cathedral. We admired the Christ Church College gardens as we walked from the bus stop to the Cathedral.

Evensong was sung by the boys and adults of the choir. The music included the Responses by Shephard, Psalms 142 and 143, the canticles by Stanford in G and the anthem by Stanford "Ye Choirs of New Jerusalem". The standard of the singing was excellent and the service was very well-attended. Although we had a short time in which to take photos at the end of the service, I will not include them here. I will wait until we have had a "proper" look around.

Following Evensong, we went directly to the Sheldonian Theatre where we attended a performance of Haydn's oratorio "The Creation". The Sheldonian was designed by Christopher Wren (it was his second work) and was built between 1664 and 1669. It is a magnificant space with wonderful acoustics but it was not built with the comfort of the audience in mind. Many of the seats (including ours) don't even have backs, they are more like benches. The orchestra was the Oxford Philharmonic with the Merton College Choir. The soloists were Mhairi Lawason (soprano), Thomas Elwin (tenor) and Jonathan Brown (bass). The conductor was Benjamin Nicholas who is organist and director of music at Merton. This was easily the best perfomance I have ever heard of this oratorio and one of the best concerts I have ever attended.

The Sheldonian Theatre, a magnificent building, matched by the wonderful blue sky!

The performers at the end of the concert.

As it was 10:30pm, it was back to McDonald's for dinner before getting a taxi back to our accommodation.

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