Saturday, February 20, 2016

Saturday 20 February - Didcot Raiway Centre and a Riot in Reading

The forecast for today was sunny this morning and showers later. I went to Paddington and took a train to Reading where I had 30 minutes to see the operation before taking a stopping train through the Thames Valley to Didcot.  The views over the river were good but the clouds were rolling in.  It was good to pass through the local stations and brought back memories of the short time I was holiday relief Area Manager Cholsey.

It took an inordinate amount of time to get into the Didcot Railway Centre - 15 minutes to get through a dozen or so people.  There was a stiff west wind and it had begun to rain.  A 57xx pannier tank was giving rides on the main line while a 95xx diesel hydraulic was giving rides on the branch.

Two boys and a girl were jacking upo the front of this 43xx - a tough assignment.
Diesel hydraulic on the branch
It was good looking at the array of steam locomotives under cover in the shed, especially the 61xx, a couple of Halls and Drysllwyn Castle which was being polished up ready for its next trip.

By this time it was getting pretty wet and, not fancying the fare available in the Didcot Centre cafe, I decided to go to Reading.  Reading turned into a disaster as well.  The listed station building which has been turned into a pub, was very full and there were at least six bouncers manning the entrance. As I walked into the town I found the same was the case with all other pubs.  There were bouncers galore and a large police presence.  It struck me that Reading were playing at home and the away team's supporters had traveled in by train.  Walking down in front of the Old Post Office I saw a large group of away supporters who were being shouted at by a large group of home supporters in a pub across the street - some 60 men all with glasses (real glass) of beer.  They were jeering and shouting out their supporter songs.  Then fighting broke out in the street.  This was quickly brought under control by the long suffering police - and this was well before the match had started. (it turned out that Reading beat West Bromwich Albion 3-1 in an FA Cup match - I wonder what the score was in the stands?)

I decided I had seen enough of Reading and took the next train back to Paddington where I had a pint at the Mad Bishop and Bear which was full but orderly.

Mad Bishop and Bear
I met Mary and Pat back at the hotel and we had an early dinner at the Victoria, a Fullers pub which was quite pleasant.

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