At Didcot Railway Centre we have a great team of volunteers.

Richard, one of our guards, has sent me some of his fondest memories of volunteering.

During our work week, which is a chance for our volunteers to do some of the larger jobs, Richard was sprucing up the signals.

He started well on the first day by spilling half a tin of black gloss paint on the platform of Didcot Halt, which of course had to be absorbed with sand and swept it up when dry.

If you look carefully, X still marks the spot.

The week ended similarly, when – on Friday – Robert (who organises the work week) dropped a small amount of signal red paint onto my white sun hat while he was painting the signal arm up top and I was painting the base of the signal post.

The sun hat has been in use at Work Week for many years, and is rather like an archaeological find, with paint spots in red from the signal, brown from when we renovated the atmospheric railway pipes from Dawlish, and black from painting the bases of signal posts.

Later the team was repainting Frome Mineral Junction signal box.

This box has its name written on the front in separate large friendly letters, instead of smaller letters on a cast nameplate like more modern boxes such as Radstock North.

The trouble with the separate large friendly letters is that they all have to be painted individually with a very small brush, which nearly always means repainting the boards behind the letters with an even smaller brush to cover the dark paint splodges that you’ve accidentally made on the light stone paint.

This covering up of different coloured splodges can go on for a surprisingly long time, but it is worth it when you see the beautifully restored signal boxes on our branch line.

If you feel curious about what we get up to at Didcot Railway Centre and have someone in the family who is interested in engineering we have our Little Engineers’ Workshop on Sunday, January 28.

The workshops are aimed at children aged between three and six years old and their families and the subject this time is levers.

The workshop is included in our normal admission and there is no need to book.

The Little Engineers will have a chance to build a see saw and take part in activity workshops to build their own levers.

There will also be a ‘Spot the lever around Didcot Railway Centre’ activity sheet to follow and the Little Engineers can see some of the hard work that our volunteers, including Richard, have put into painting the signal boxes.