Arley Station, Severn Valley Railway, Arley, Worcestershire, DY12 3NF
The heart of the Severn Valley Railway
The Severn Valley Railway was opened on the 31st January 1862. At that time Arley Station was considerably smaller than it is now. There was no passing loop and the single platform was very much shorter than the two the station has today. If you look at the face of the main platform from the down platform (or garden side) it is possible to see the shape of the original short, stone-faced platform which you can see was also more than a foot lower than the one in use now. The station buildings were also smaller at that time, passenger facilities being limited to the present waiting room with a partitioned booking office in the corner of the room and the gentlemen's toilets. Facilities were completed by a weighbridge on the site of the present day refreshment kiosk in the station yard.
The passing loop and a signal box were installed in the 1880’s together with a second platform, the existing platform being raised and lengthened. In 1907 both the platforms were further lengthened, since then the only significant change to the layout was the laying of a second siding behind the signal box sometime before the 1930’s.
One of the main types of traffic for which Arley was used was that of fishermen coming for a day’s sport on the nearby River Severn. Coal traffic from the collieries to the north at Kinlet, Highley and Alveley was also an important feature of the line.
After the Severn Valley’s British Railways passenger service north of Bewdley ceased in September 1963 a number of changes were made at Arley. The signal box closed on 28th June 1964, the up line through the station and the sidings were lifted and the down platform edging was removed to ensure clearance for the coal trains which still passed through for a few more years. The station house was still the home of Mr and Mrs Jones who had staffed the station for many years. As the years passed the grass grew up where the track had been removed and the down platform in particular became heavily overgrown with bushes and trees until the waiting shelter was almost hidden from view. The original signal box was also demolished during this period.
On the 16th February 1971 the purchase of the southern part of the Severn Valley Railway as far as Foley Park Halt was agreed with British Rail. By 1972 the restoration of Arley Station had begun in earnest. The early part of the year saw a great deal of hard work clearing the down platform of ten years worth of trees and undergrowth. By the end of the year the down platform face and edging had been repaired, mains water and electricity had been installed at the station for the first time and five Great Western Railway gas lamps had been erected on the main platform. New running-in boards had been erected (showing the station’s name) and a summer camp school party had gathered up all the surfacing bricks on the down platform to facilitate its levelling and re-laying. The station had also been repainted in the early 1930’s GWR style.
By spring 1973 the platform awning had been repaired, the brushwood on the down platform had been completely removed, the former weighbridge had been converted into “Sid’s Café” and (reported the Severn Valley News) the future visitors’ car park to the rear of the down platform had been levelled. 250 concrete sleepers had been delivered for the bay and passing loop (actually now the main running line) and the north and south loop points. Adderbury signal box had been obtained as a replacement for the one removed, and a large hole had been excavated in which to plant the up starting signal’s post. Sadly it was also reported that Daisy Jones had died on the 15th January 1973.
Work to be completed by the 1974 season included the painting of the toilets and installation of new sinks, further restoration work in the gardens and the laying out of the sleepers through the main platform. Another event of note was the opening of the station shop. Work still outstanding was more tree and shrub clearance at the northern end of the station and fencing around the station house.
In Spring 1974 it was stated that it was the intention to relay the “loop” and rebuild the signal box in time for the 1975 running season.
The station was re-opened with due ceremony (including a brass band playing on the platform) on the 18th May 1974.
By the end of 1974 the relaying of the line through platform 1 was under way, and the former LNWR signal box from Yorton in Shropshire was undergoing reconstruction on the site of the original box. Also by late in 1974 work had been completed to the up and bay platform walls and the up platform fence had been erected.
The works completed, the first day of crossing services at Arley was 25th May 1975.
More recently a new refreshment kiosk has been built in period style on the site of the old weighbridge building.
Ever since the 1970’s there has always been a group of dedicated volunteers (currently numbering about 20) who work around the year to staff the platforms, refreshment kiosk, shop and booking office, clean and maintain the station buildings, maintain the cuttings at each end of the station and improve and maintain the station’s beautiful gardens. Many visitors will get off the train at Arley Station in order to pay a visit to one of the frequent special events that we are involved in throughout the year, to enjoy a walk by the river or just to enjoy the beauty of the scene and soak up the atmosphere. If you haven’t been to see for yourself why not come and pay us a visit?
There are a number of excellent and well illustrated books available about the history of the Severn Valley Railway, (and one of particular interest to those concerned with Arley Station) these include:
“The Severn Valley Railway at Arley” by former Arley Station Master Barrie Geens is available from the Arley station shop (and also those at Bridgnorth and Kidderminster stations and the Kidderminster Railway Museum). ISBN 1-874103-23-2
“The Severn Valley Railway” by John Marshall provides a full history of the line between Hartlebury and Shrewsbury including the Kidderminster loop, together with many illustrations. ISBN 0-946537-45-3
“The Severn Valley Railway – A View From The Past” by Michael A. Vanns also covers the whole line, mainly in the form of a collection of superb historic photographs. ISBN 0-7110-2599-1
“The Severn Valley Railway – Past and Present” by Roger Siviter provides a series of paired views showing how various parts of the railway look now compared to how they looked in the past.
The traditional way of referring to the two directions of travel along a railway line is ‘up’ and ‘down’. On the Great Western this referred to travel towards Paddington (up) and away from Paddington (down). In the case of the Severn Valley Railway trains travelling towards Bridgnorth are therefore down trains, and trains travelling towards Kidderminster are up trains.
At Arley up trains always depart from the up platform (the station building side). Depending on the timetable in operation, down trains may arrive and depart from either the down platform (the garden side) or the up platform, as shown on the platform destination boards.
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