At Didcot Railway Centre we are getting ready for our February half term opening and looking forward to welcoming lots of visitors.

Colleagues in the Great Western Trust have been working hard to rearrange the displays in the GWT Museum in time for the weekend.

We have to close the museum during the year to refresh the displays. There are two reasons for this: firstly, some delicate objects, such as posters and publicity material, deteriorate in the light and, although we monitor light levels to minimise damage, we don’t want them to be in the light for too long. Secondly, we have such a wonderful collection that we want to give visitors the chance to see different things when they come back for a return visit.

This year there is a horseracing theme in the posters on display.

My colleagues know about my interest in racing and in one corner of the museum are three beautiful Great Western Railway posters of racecourses.

The first is a charming view of ‘the new racecourse’ at Chepstow with the GWR offering cheap fares on racedays. According to Chepstow Racecourse’s website, the course took three years to build and opened in the summer of 1926 when 20,000 racegoers came to the inaugural meeting. It doesn’t say how many came by train, though.

The second poster is not quite as splendid and shows two horses jumping a fence at Colwall Park. The poster is advertising racing on Monday, Sept 27, with the first race at 2 o’clock and again the GWR issued cheap tickets. The admission prices are a sign of the past too: entry to the course was two shillings whereas admission to Tatts (Tattersalls enclosure, now usually renamed the Grandstand & Paddock Enclosure) was 12 shillings and 6 pence for gents and eight shillings and 6 pence for ladies. Colwall Park racecourse is no more as the final meeting was in May 1939.

The third poster is advertising Windsor Races on June 21. We have been unable to work out the year, although it was during Sir Felix Pole’s time as General Manager of the GWR (1921 to 1929). There is more information on this poster as it gives details of special trains between Paddington and Windsor & Eton Station as well as the times of the first and last races (2pm and 4.30pm) and a note that trains will be in readiness to leave Windsor & Eton Station for Paddington immediately the races are over.

Of course there are many other wonderful posters in the GWT museum advertising destinations all over the old Great Western Railway network so come along and see us during half term.