In common with other outdoor attractions, Didcot Railway Centre will reopen in mid-April following the Government’s announcement of the roadmap out of lockdown. The resumption of activities will see the Centre’s popular Steam Days take place at weekends and Wednesdays from 14 April.
The Open Air Steam Days will follow a similar format to those successfully staged at the living museum last summer and autumn. Head of Visitor Experience & Marketing, Graham Hukins said, “The safety and wellbeing of our visitors, volunteers and staff is paramount. We are proud to have Visit England’s “We’re Good To Go” accreditation and will continue with the adaptations we implemented on site last year to allow us to welcome visitors safely and provide the reassurance they need.
“The feedback from visitors in 2020 about the measures we adopted to welcome our audiences safely was very positive and we will again re-open gradually, in line with government guidance. There is lots to discover and we’re making use of the whole 21-acre site to ensure there is plenty of room for visitors to relax and enjoy a gentle stroll as they explore” he added.
Visitors will be able to travel from one end of the site to the other behind an historic steam engine built for the famous Great Western Railway. The train will include wonderfully restored compartment carriages allowing each group of visitors to be accommodated in their own individual space for the trips on the Centre’s demonstration line.
There’s also the chance to get up close to engines in the locomotive yard and discover special outdoor displays and photo opportunities including goods trains and a locomotive on the turntable.
The Government’s phased easing of restrictions means that the a small number of indoor facilities where space is very confined (such as the original air-raid shelter, small artefacts museum and signalling centre will remain closed initially but visitors will be able to see the towering coal stage; surviving track from Brunel’s broad gauge railway; beautiful, recreated stations; 20 preserved locomotives; dozens of wagons – many designed for specific types of goods; and many other exhibits that represent almost 200 years of railway history.
The Centre’s gift shop will be open with controlled access to facilitate social distancing while the Refreshment Rooms will offer a limited takeaway menu. There are benches and picnic tables across the site and children can let off steam in the train themed play area while they watch the real thing steam past!