By the end of the 19th century, Paddington and its associated goods yards and depots at Westbourne Park and elsewhere, were stretched to capacity and further expansion was needed.
In 1899 a strip of land at Old Oak Common was identified as suitable for a new depot. Built under the guidance of George Jackson Churchward, GWR’s Locomotive Superintendent, Old Oak Common was one of the most up-to-date locomotive repair facilities in the country when it opened in 1906. When it opened in 1906 it was described as the largest in Great Britain, if not the world.
Traditional and modern construction techniques and materials were combined to create a depot capable of accommodating and servicing the company’s latest and largest locomotives.
The depot included a vast engine shed measuring c. 135m by 110m. It contained four turntables for moving rolling stock and was able to accommodate 112 locomotives. It was largely demolished in 1963, after the introduction of double-cab diesel engines made the need for turntables redundant.
Parts of the depot remained in use until 2009 when it was closed in advance of the Crossrail works. Recognising the importance of the site in terms of railway heritage, items were retained for re-use where possible. A 1903 cast iron column has been preserved for incorporation into the new Crossrail depot that will occupy the site.