OUR main season is over now and we welcomed lots of lovely visitors from all over the world.

We know some of our visitors hadn’t visited the UK for a couple of years as they left old pound coins in our donation boxes, but luckily we can still exchange them.

Apart from banking old pound coins, our volunteers and staff have been busy catching up on other jobs around the Centre.

We’ve finished running steam trains and have been getting the diesels ready for this month’s Heritage Diesel Days.

Our volunteers have serviced our Teddy Bear diesel and checked out No 22, our Great Western Railway Railcar. No 22 will be 80 years old next year and is looking remarkably well for her age. She is the only working GWR diesel railcar in the country, although the National Railway Museum has GWR No 4 on static display and GWR No 20 is being restored on the Kent & East Sussex Railway.

Talking of diesels, the diesel crane and our new crane driver, Steven, have been busy lately. Because the Centre is completely surrounded by railway lines, everything has to come in or go out either through Didcot Parkway Station or on a railway wagon. Retail deliveries come through the station, up the stairs and then we put them on trolleys to take to the Shop or Refreshment Room. Anything larger has to be put on a railway wagon and shunted into the Centre. We have regular deliveries of coal, oil and diesel that come over on the wagons and send our rubbish skips out in the other direction. The diesel crane is critical to loading and unloading the rubbish and recycling skips.

Work also continues on our steam engines. Our new Saint Class steam engine, Lady of Legend, has been running reliably over the summer and she will have one more outing at our Victorian Weekend later in September. Then she will go back into the Works for some minor maintenance. We have had a couple of steam engines on hire to other railways and they will soon be back from their summer holidays too.

As well as working hard on the restoration of our GWR carriages and wagons, our Carriage & Wagon Department has been improving the Carriage Display area. They have been installing a dividing wall between the restoration and display areas and replacing the cracked concrete outside the Carriage Shed. I’m sure our visitors will appreciate their work as it has improved the path along the front of the Carriage Shed.

The office work continues too as we need to plan next year’s programme and print the leaflet. All in all, it is a busy September.