IT was looking at an aerial photograph of Didcot Railway Centre that got us thinking of how green the centre is.

Of course the opposite was true in its life as a working engine shed when it would have been a grey/ brown industrial area surrounded by farmland.

One of our volunteers found an article in October 1963 issue of The Railway Magazine that explored the relationship between railways and wildlife. Ravelling by train is still a wonderful way to watch the scenery and Didcot is close to two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty – the North Wessex Downs and the Chilterns – that can be seen from the train.

The article makes reference to Edward Thomas and his poem, Adlestrop, which captured a moment in time with a wild bird’s song, a bare platform and the hiss of steam as his train stopped there unexpectedly one summer. We have still got our Adlestrop station name board as a tribute to Edward Thomas at Didcot Halt, our branch line station.

A wide variety of plants are found on railway embankments and the railway provides an animal-free and human-free area where species can thrive.

Possibly the most famous of railway plants is the Oxford Ragwort which spread from Oxford towards Paddington as its seeds were carried along the line.

This gave us the inspiration to commission an intern from the University of Reading, Maddi, to produce a nature guide that will be launched on August Bank Holiday Monday by councillor Bill Service, the Mayor of Didcot.

As well as the formal launch of the guide at 11.30am, Milletts Falconry Centre will be bringing birds of prey and there will be nature crafts in the picnic area where families can join in making bug hotels, bug headpieces (with antennae!), doing puzzles and colouring sheets. The nature guide will be available and visitors can join in a competition to spot many of the plants, trees, insects and animals around the centre.

It will also be the final day of our Engine Shed Experience event when visitors are invited to experience the atmosphere and sights of a working steam engine shed in Didcot Railway Centre's original 1930s Engine Shed. Some of the steam engines will be pulled out and displayed as they would have been in their working lives.

All our usual attractions will be open, including The Signalling Centre with its interactive exhibits, and visitors are welcome to visit some of our restoration workshops.

There will also be unlimited steam train rides all day in genuine GWR vintage carriages.