PR - SVR volunteers look back to arrival of first loco 50 years ago

Page updated on: 21/03/2017 at 19:46

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March 21st 2017

See the BBC Midlands Today footage from 11:42 at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08jjw2r/midlands-today-evening-news-21032017 

March 17th 2017

Volunteers at Severn Valley Railway are preparing to remember the 50th anniversary of the arrival of the first locomotive on the line.

On 25 March it will be exactly 50 years since the Railway’s first locomotive, No. 3205, steamed into Bridgnorth’s platform 2, the first train at the station since it was axed by Dr Beeching four years earlier in 1963.*

The engine’s long journey from Buckfastleigh to Stourbridge began in February 1967 when it was diesel-hauled to Stourbridge and prepared to travel 30 miles, under her own steam, into Bridgnorth the following month.

Driven by Cyril Williams from Stourbridge and John Hill of Tyseley and, and fired by Gerry Carter, the gleaming engine steamed tender first into Platform 2 just after midday where the train crew was met by the Mayor of Bridgnorth.

The event drew crowds of thousands over a three-day celebration with the engine and two coaches making trips from Bridgnorth to Oldbury Viaduct and back.

The arrival of 3205 came less than two years after the inauguration of the Severn Valley Railway Society and its arrival helped the Society meet its fundraising target of £25,000, funds needed to buy and restore the six-and- a-half mile track between Bridgnorth and Hampton Loade. 

The anniversary also comes in the same month as the current round of fundraising, a £2.5 million share offer to restore and redevelop Bridgnorth Station, hit its first million-pound target, proving the enduring popularity of steam among today’s public.

John Hill, one of the drivers on the day and still a volunteer on the SVR, recalls the excitement of the day.

He said: ‘The day was a real reward for all the hard work that had happened to prepare the station and track. When the engine rolled in, it really lifted everyone’s spirits and we really started to believe that we were going to get the Railway back up and running.’

David Williams, founder member and volunteer at the SVR, also remembers the thrill of the day.

‘Those who were there will never forget the excitement of that first great weekend and my own fondest memory was a footplate ride with driver John Hill and fireman John Denson to Hampton Loade on 3205.

‘The arrival of our first locomotive - and a main-line Great Western one at that! – was not only exciting but also a turning point in the fortunes of SVR which was just a small society at the time. As well as bringing us thousands of visitors, the arrival of 3205 gave people in the West Midlands reason to believe in us and really boosted membership and financial support, support which we continue to need to this day as we work to preserve precious memories of steam for future generations.’

Shares in the Railway are currently available to buy for £1 each, and all proceeds from this share offer are dedicated to Bridgnorth Station and delivering the Railway’s most ambitious restoration and development so far in the SVR’s 52-year history. Full share offer information can be found at www.svr.co.uk/shareoffer or by calling 01562 757900.

*Note:

The announcement was made by BR(W) in June 1962 that passenger services would be withdrawn between Shrewsbury and Bewdley, but the
British Transport Commission report "The Reshaping of British Railways" ('The Beeching Report') was not published until 27 March 1963.
Although traffic between Shrewsbury and Bewdley ceased on 9 September 1963 the closure of the line was ultimately the responsibility of BR
rather than a direct result of the 'Beeching Axe'. More at http://www.svrwiki.com/The_Severn_Valley_Railway_under_GWR/BR_ownership

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