THIS is going to be a big year for us at Didcot Railway Centre:
We are not only marking 50 years in Didcot, we are also commemorating the centenary of one of our engines, No 5322.
So to celebrate, we are starting the year by offering free entry to Didcot Railway Centre on January weekends.
Our shop and refreshment room will be open and visitors can explore the centre at their leisure, although the GWT museum and archive will be closed so the trustees can finish rearranging the displays.
In February we are running the trains on the Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesday of half term and we will also be launching our new exhibition – Action Stations – which shows how the centre has been used as a film location.
Thomas the Tank Engine visits us in March for our ever-popular Day Out With Thomas events.
Easter is very late this year and we are planning an event from Easter to the May Bank Holiday to celebrate 50 years since we took over the old depot at Didcot to develop it into Didcot Railway Centre.
There will be an informal volunteers’ reunion on Saturday, April 29, for all volunteers past and present.
We’re going to be busy with events in June – the transport rally on the first Sunday and Father’s Day on Sunday, June 18.
At the end of the month we will welcome the Star Tugs again for their annual visit.
During the summer holidays we will open daily and the trains will be running every Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday.
It is hard work but we love seeing our visitors enjoying themselves.
In good weather the picnic area is a lovely place to sit and watch the trains.
In August our 'Rails on the Western Front' event will commemorate the role of railways in the First World War.
Engine 5322 was one of 20 Great Western Railway engines built in Swindon in summer 1917 and sent to France to help with transporting supplies from the channel ports to the front line.
We hope the local community will come and get involved.
Things get a bit quieter in September when our final railway gala, Anything Goes, is a great chance to do something different.
Then Thomas visits us again in October followed by the October half term and Day Out With Thomas and meet Father Christmas events in December.
We wish all our readers a Happy and Prosperous New Year and we look forward to seeing you in 2017.