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Dear Working Members and Shareholders...
2015 has passed by, Santa and the festive season are complete and winter civils works are underway during the close down period. I am sure you would agree that the last twelve months has passed by in a blur and sometimes it is hard to remember individual events in any one year. As a reminder in our 50th year we have seen a new exhibition open at The Engine House celebrating the first 50 years of the Railway; this opening ceremony was attended by the Railway Founding Fathers. We have been privileged to receive a visit to the Railway from HRH Princess Anne to help celebrate the 50th year. There has been a charter Belmond Pullman Train from London Victoria. In regards to locomotion there has been the return to traffic of 34027 Taw Valley and 7802 Bradley Manor. There has been the construction of the impressive Diesel Depot and finally a visit from our Patron HRH Duke of Gloucester to Bridgnorth, the birthplace of the SVR. Our 50th year really has been twelve months of achievement and celebration.
This special year is in addition to the remarkable operation and events that we count as ‘business as usual’, which has included two superb galas, 1940’s with its ever popular battle re-enactment, 1960’s event and concerts, a food festival at The Engine House, a visit from 60163 Tornado and 6100 Royal Scot, Manor 50 in November and of course the Santa Service. The 50th year was a celebration of all the volunteers who made and continue to make this Railway such a special community, a community that makes all of the above possible.
The Bridgnorth Development Team have made super progress in 2015, following the compilation of the master plan for the site and numerous surveys the application for the project has been submitted to Shropshire Council for consideration. A sincere thanks to David Postle and his team for reaching this significant milestone.
As we move in to the New Year I would like to update you on other matters of interest:
The Santa Specials had a record year in 2015, with all tickets sold prior to the first weekend. There is an increasing number of people that are now booking online. The delivery of this service over December weekends is down to the teams at Kidderminster, Bewdley and Arley that provide such a professional operation. This event in particular staged on December weekends really takes a huge amount of dedication and commitment, thank you to Di Malyon, the team and all those involved in the operation of the Railway over December.
Manor 50 event
The Erlestoke Manor Fund wanted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Manors departing from daily service on the Cambrian and came forward with the proposal and the personnel to organise the event. Despite inclement weather on a November weekend, an interesting timetable and locomotion bought out 1,399 passengers and proved that the format of a steam event in November works very well. Following the success of Manor 50 you may imagine that there is consideration of running a steam event at a similar time next year. Watch this space, but I will take this opportunity to thank Terry Jenkins and his colleagues for their leadership of this super event.
The Diesel Depot
The Diesel Depot construction and snagging has been completed, with Pete Maddicks and a team of volunteers undertaking the completion of the electrical fit out. The building will be occupied from the January 2016 with the building under the supervision of Paul Koch and Roland Bull. An official open day, with further open days, will be held during 2016. The depot really is worth a visit, what an impressive achievement it is and for the first time offers a fitting location for the care and maintenance of our heritage diesel fleet.
Infrastructure and Permanent Way
The construction company that undertook to build the houses next to the SVR Kidderminster Car Park deferred improvement work on our car park, which they used for access during the house building until early 2016 which alleviated potential disruption to the Santa Service. Work has started on the reconstruction of the small room at the back of Bewdley Station. The small pebble-dashed annexe has been demolished. It will be reconstructed in 2016 and when complete will offer extended station mess accommodation. With thanks to the raffle undertaken by the SVRA it has been possible for Chris Bond, Infrastructure Manager to purchase materials for the first phase of work on Bewdley Platform 2/3 canopy repair. Work has already begun on this project. Meanwhile the P Way gang have been moving materials to site at Eardington for the winter track relay project. Other winter work will include the lining of the two Bewdley water tower tanks using a GRP liner to extend the use of the tanks. Chris Bond intends to do the same to the Kidderminster water tower in 2017.
The Stourport Spur
Rail Safety Solutions (RSS) and the SVR have now completed a lease agreement for the Stourport Spur and a site meeting with RSS representatives and Keith Brown from the Permanent Way has taken place. There will be more activity on the site during 2016, this will include some tidying up of the Spur to clear space for their apprentices to work.
Leased properties Station Lane Bridgnorth
You will be aware as previously announced that the SVR is now leasing two properties on station land Bridgnorth. The property formerly known as Dexter’s Garage will be used for storage and include a new Pattern Workshop. The property formerly known as the Graham Hill building at the top of the lane will be used as a mess facility and offices. This premises will replace the portakabins currently situated behind the boilershop.
King and Castle refurbishment
A visit to the King and Castle is recommended to inspect the new bar, which is stage one of a refurbishment plan, that continues with a new GWR carpet and work in the cellar. Kidderminster Buffet has also had its carpet renewed and the wooden dance floor has been replaced.
The Engine House will have a new exhibition on the balcony for 2016 and as well as running a Home and Garden Fayre on June 4th and 5th. Nicky Vale, Engine House Manager, is also trialling some themed nights in 2016 including two nights of tribute acts. Details will be on the website shortly. Finally, the Railway is on target to be able to report a profit at the end of 2015, with thanks to a fully booked Santa Service.
Thanks to all of you so very much for making 2015 such a fantastic year. Let’s all look forward to 2016!
Nick Ralls (General Manager)
Nick Paul (Chairman)