Ann Middleton is commercial manager at Didcot Railway Centre

AT Didcot Railway Centre we are only just recovering from our successful Day Out With Thomas event before we need to get ready for our half term steamings.

Where does the time go?

In the next week or so we will be welcoming one of our favourite visiting engines, Tornado.

Tornado was built by the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust and is the first mainline steam engine to have been built since the end of steam.

We might dispute that as our own Fire Fly is also a mainline steam engine built in 2005 but sadly there isn’t any mainline broad gauge track for her to show her paces.

We can’t dispute the popularity of Tornado. She will be with us for a few weeks while the team carry out maintenance work.

Tornado has been quite a regular visitor to Didcot and we have had some great events: in 2014 she was one of three large blue engines for our ‘Once in a Blue Moon’ event and took her place alongside King Edward II and Sir Nigel Gresley – the steam engines, not the people!

She visited us again, repainted in green British Railways livery, in April 2016 for our Easter Steamings. Tornado will be running on Saturday October 28 at the end of half term week.

We are getting back into the swing of our normal opening and are getting our own engines ready too. Our Steam Rail Motor has been on her travels again: she was the only passenger train running at the recent Old Oak Common Open Day and then moved to the Mid Norfolk Railway where she has been operating their service trains from Dereham to Wymondham. Our large Prairie Tank, No 4144, will be joining the fun and pulling our beautifully restored Art Deco Great Western railway carriages. No 4144 isn’t named and isn’t really very glamorous but she is very reliable and makes a great sight on our Main Demonstration Line. During the week we are also planning to run our Class 14 Diesel – nicknamed the ‘Teddy Bear’.

Half term is not just about train rides though – all our usual attractions are open and children can enjoy our play park, dress up and learn about trains. Our museum is open for visitors to explore GWR history and there is also a chance to see our Rails on the Western Front exhibition, which tells the story of GWR No 5322 which served in France in 1917 and we have a re-enactment group with us on October 28 and 29.

We are open every day over the half term holiday from October 21 to 19 and are running trains on both weekends and on the Wednesday.