2999 Lady of Legend is unloaded at Bridgnorth MPD on 31st March 2021. Martin White
Welcome to your latest edition of Branch Lines!
You'd pick up a definite feeling of anticipation were you to visit any location at the Severn Valley Railway today. From one end of the line to the other, no effort is being spared to get ready to welcome the first visitors of the 2021 season. Because next Monday, 12th April, we will be back in business!
In the past month, we’ve said goodbye to one special visitor - GBRf’s 69001 which came for load testing - and hello to another – the long-awaited 2999 Lady of Legend which will play a starring role in this month’s Spring Steam Up event.
This week, a network of cameras has been installed, which will give everyone a window on the SVR, and the freedom to watch trains arrive and depart at four of our stations. Not only will this attract even more viewers to our YouTube channel, but it will also give invaluable support to duty officers as they manage on-the-day services.
Also in this edition we have news from many different corners of the Railway, bringing restoration progress and even a heart-warming update on Puddles, the former Bridgnorth station cat. We hope our new publication day of the second Thursday in the month hasn’t caught you out, and we look forward to seeing you back at the SVR in the very near future.
Lesley and Patrick, co-editors
The Branch Lines team is Lesley Carr, Patrick Hearn, Amy Baker and Nicola Fox
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Ready, steady, go!
With only a few days before the SVR starts its 2021 season, general manager Helen Smith takes stock of where we are and how far we’ve come in this extremely challenging and unusual past 12 months:
It has been fantastic to watch teams across the SVR return after Lockdown 3 fades away. The stations are coming back to life as we prepare for a successful season ahead.
We’re in a great position to benefit from domestic tourism this year, making the most of the ‘staycation effect’, and not before time! The SVR’s reliance on day visitors means that we will be largely unaffected by the travel restrictions that will devastate inbound tourism for destinations like London, York and Edinburgh. In fact, we’re perfectly placed to receive as many visitors as we’re able to safely accommodate, from 12th April onwards.
As you’ll read elsewhere in Branch Lines, Lady of Legend has arrived and we’re getting the loco ready for its inaugural journey on the SVR, its first ever journey away from home at Didcot. The team at ESMP are putting the Saint through its paces to make sure everything’s ready for the Steam Up event on 15th – 19th April. Lady of Legend looks amazing, and will most definitely be the Belle of the Ball!
Finally from me, a plea for help! We need volunteer professional project managers to get involved with various projects across the Railway. If you’ve worked as a specialist project manager and you’re looking for a challenging volunteer role then please send your CV to email@example.com. We’re looking for help with construction projects, learning programme delivery, the roll-out and monitoring of the strategy – a whole host of interesting and engaging projects!
Photo: Geoff Smith and Roger Panter ready Kidderminster Town station on 7th April 2021 for the season opening. Amy Baker
Welcoming a legendary guest!
Bridgnorth MPD is gearing up for the start of the season, which includes welcoming our Spring Steam Up special guest, as shed master Martin White explains:
“How do you get it off?” Someone asked whilst looking at 4-6-0 Lady of Legend on the trailer that had just reversed onto the boiler shop yard at Bridgnorth. “Do you use a crane?” The solution, whilst obvious to some, may be a mystery to others, hence it’s worth a more detailed explanation.
The answer is that it is rolled down a ramp that’s built by the haulier. But of course, it’s not quite as simple as it sounds. To start with, the heavy haulage unit has to get to our site. Delivering to Kidderminster entails coming up the hill to the station and steering through the Network Rail car park. The recent redevelopment of that site specifically incorporated sufficient manoeuvrability to enable this.
At Bridgnorth, due to the size and weight of the load, the haulier cannot reach the Railway via the town bridge, but instead crosses the river on the by-pass bridge and comes into town via Ludlow Road, Salop Street and around the tight curves and steep hill of Squirrel Bank. Finally, there is the tight turn into Station Lane made possible by steerable trailers, and an escort driver in a van who stops approaching traffic. This is essential as the trailers have to traverse Station Lane in reverse!
Coming up Station Lane, the load arrives into the boiler shop yard, which SVR staff will have shunted clear of wagons, closing the foot crossing gates, in order to keep members of the public out of harm’s way. The haulage driver then has the tricky job of positioning his trailer so that the end of his straight offloading ramp will align with the mostly curved running lines. Fortunately, the regular hauliers are very familiar with this and can do so without much to-ing and fro-ing.
The ramp for offloading is a set of rails in ‘kit form’, which the haulage firm provide and erect on blocks and packing, with tie bars between the tails. Even though the haulier carrying Lady of Legend has a semi-automated ramp on his big trailer, there’s still a lot of manual work in getting it set up. Once the ramp is in place, the winch on the tractor unit is connected to the loco drawgear, and the chains that fasten the loco to the trailer are released. The winch then gradually lets gravity move the loco down the ramp, very steadily, closely observed until, more often than not, it stops with the loco half on the trailer and half on SVR rails. At this point, an SVR diesel shunter attaches and gently pulls the loco down the last few yards. All that then remains to be done is to pack the ramp away, swap the trailers around and repeat the exercise with the tender!
Simple…no cranes involved!
After starring at our Spring Steam Up, travel behind Lady of Legend for 64 miles and enjoy two round trips in our historic rake of Great Western Railway carriages from Bridgnorth or Kidderminster!
Bridgnorth departure - 23rd April, 10.10am
Kidderminster departures - 5th, 6th May, 9.50am and 7th May, 10.40am.
Discounts are not available any of these trains. Tickets are available from https://svr.digitickets.co.uk/category/32559
Click on the gallery for Martin's full, uncropped images.
Culture Recovery Fund
The Severn Valley Railway’s application for a Round 2 grant from The Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage was unfortunately not successful. Reacting to the announcement, general manager Helen Smith said:
“Whilst this is disappointing news for us, we must remember that we have already benefitted from Round 1 of the Culture Recovery Fund, when we were awarded £906,000. This means the SVR has received the third largest award to a heritage railway through The Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage. This was in addition to the £250,000 grant the SVR had previously secured from the Heritage Emergency Fund in 2020, making a total of £1.156 million in emergency grant funding.
"I would like to thank everyone who worked so hard to put in this second application, and I know that we will be making further approaches to The National Lottery Heritage Fund in the future.
“The major award made to The North Yorkshire Moors Railway was through a different awarding body, Arts Council England. The SVR was not eligible to apply to this because it is not an accredited museum.”
Kidderminster Railway Museum was successful in its application to the Culture Recovery Fund through Arts Council England, and you can read more about this elsewhere in Branch Lines."
Photo: A look back to October 2020 and the previous award when we were visited by the Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage, Nigel Huddlestone MP with Wyre Forest MP Mark Garnier and Eilish McGuinness, the executive director of business delivery at The National Lottery Heritage Fund. (c) Copyright Tim Thursfield & Express & Star
The SVR livestreaming to your home
The SVR will soon launch a new service for supporters and visitors - a network of livestream cameras, operating 24 hours a day, at key locations along the line. As well as providing a fascinating and free viewing facility for the public, the camera network has an important role to play in assisting the smooth operation of the Railway. Head of communications and marketing Lesley Carr told Branch Lines more:
“The installation of the cameras was completed this week, and we’re undertaking some final testing and configuration. We hope to launch the livestream feeds from our six cameras very soon, ideally in time for the Spring Steam Up event starting on 15th April.
“We have two cameras each at Kidderminster and Bewdley, plus one at Highley and one at Bridgnorth. Using the SVR’s YouTube channel, you’ll be able to see and hear all the comings and goings at these locations. Working closely with our partners RailCam, we’ve made sure that microphones don’t pick up conversations, although you will hear all the excitement of the trains arriving and departing!”
The Railway’s senior duty officer Dave Brattan has welcomed the initiative:
“We’ve been hoping for something like this for a long time. These cameras will significantly improve the way the duty officer will be able to manage the day-to-day running of the train service and improve how we deal with delays, to help keep our passengers happy and more informed. Duty officers will be able to see what’s happening in these locations in real time, which will help us when we are recovering delayed services. However, it will still be helpful to the duty officer team if operational staff can continue to inform us about delays, in the same way as they currently do."
Keep an eye on social media in the near future for an announcement that the cameras are live.
Developments underway at Bridgnorth
Like many things, the Bridgnorth Development project has been delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, things are starting to move again, and a team is working on the station building development and also the MPD Roof and Crane. General manager Helen Smith told Branch Lines about the shift in focus for the project:
“Since the 2016 share offer, the priorities at Bridgnorth have had to change. A recent report has highlighted the rapid deterioration of the MPD roof and the urgent need for an overhead crane to improve safe working. These elements were not part of the original development but are essential to the operation of the Railway.
“We need to be pragmatic about this, and we must recognise that we cannot do everything at once. This comes from both a funding point of view and also from a management perspective.
"With that in mind, the Major Capital Projects Tripartite Group (which has representatives from all three SVR Boards) has decided to concentrate on two projects – namely the Bridgnorth Station Building and the MPD Roof and Crane projects. The SVR Charitable Trust will soon launch a major appeal to fund the Roof and Crane project.
Photo: The temporary wheelchair toilet unit at Bridgnorth has gone. March 2021, Sue Thomas
Diesel Bash VIP guest locomotives announced
Another in the series of ‘Behind the Scenes on the Severn Valley Railway’, Kidderminster Diesel Depot Uncovered streamed live on 2nd April on the SVR’s YouTube channel, as part of the SVR’s diesel week. Again, this detailed presentation has proved very popular with almost 18,000 views as we go to press.
The ‘big reveal’ was the Diesel Bash VIP guest locomotives that will join the home fleet line up on 13th-16th May. These will be Vintage Trains’ 47773 and one of the Class 20s (identity to be confirmed) owned by Class 20189 Ltd, whose managing director Michael Owen is a regular supporter of SVR diesel events. Ticket sales are going well with around 50% of tickets already sold and more than a month still to go: Diesel Bash event details and tickets are on the SVR website.
Also available is a 32-page glossy Diesel Bash souvenir programme including timetable, locomotive articles, behind the scenes information and lots more!
The video includes features on the unique Class 17 Clayton as it prepares for its first appearance in blue livery, our fantastic TMD (diesel depot) and turntable, how we're helping to overhaul 47773 and a demonstration of how to start Class 40 40106.
An additional item of diesel news is that a replacement Maybach MD655 engine was fitted to D1015 at Kidderminster TMD on 27th March, again showing how essential the TMD and its facilities are.
The roster for the diesel ‘Pioneer’ excursions has been announced. These run on 11 Friday and Saturday dates between 23rd April and 17th June. They include Class 14 D9551 and Class 17 D8568, 40106 Atlantic Conveyor, Class 42 D821 Greyhound, Class 50s and Class 52 D1015 Western Champion. Use the above link to check out the running dates and to buy your tickets online.
Renewing membership subscriptions by direct debit
Victoria Evans from the SVR membership department has been in touch to follow up with news of the appeal in November’s Branch Lines, and a positive response from the membership:
We would like to thank everyone who responded to the call to sign up to renew their membership subscriptions by direct debit.
If you’re still paying by another means, please can we encourage you to consider making the switch? When you sign up to pay by direct debit, you won’t need to worry about remembering to renew, as we can process this automatically for you.
We’ll let you know 10 working days before we take the payment. As well as saving you time and trouble, it works for the SVR too, because we can reduce costs and streamline the renewal process.
If you haven’t yet provided us with an email address, please could you contact Tori Wakeman on firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 01562 757 930.
Thank you so much for your continued support and for helping to ensure the future of the SVR.
Thefts from Arley station
On two separate occasions in late March, thieves stole more than 20 enamel advertising and GWR cast iron signs from Arley station. The signs had been on display at the station for many years.
Leonard Warrington, one of the station volunteers, said: "They took nine enamel signs early on Monday morning towards the north end of the station, and then I got another call saying that more enamel signs as well as three cast iron signs had been taken on Monday night.
"After a call from a farmer, we found one of the cast iron signs sticking out of a hedge. They are heavy – the cast iron ones especially – so maybe they couldn't carry it and chose to leave it behind."
Station master Ian Latimer said, "It’s awful that this has happened. Our volunteers take huge pride in making Arley attractive for visitors and have worked hard to collect and restore these signs. We have reported the theft to the police and removed further signage from the station."
Lennie added: "We are really upset that they've been stolen. It's not so much the cost, we spent many hours restoring them.”
All the enamel signs have a coating of SmartWater. If you see any of the signs, or are offered one to buy, please report it to the Railway or police.
Click on the gallery for full, uncropped images and descriptions.
69001 has left the building!
Locomotive 69001 left the SVR on 12th March as planned, after its successful testing contract during the previous weeks with one of our industry partners, GBRf. With luck, this won’t be its last visit as GBRf have kindly agreed to one of the class coming back to haul a special passenger service in the not-too-distant future.
The visit generated considerable public interest. Our ‘Behind the Scenes’ video (see March’s Branch Lines) on YouTube was viewed over 33,000 times in the first day! In all the current count is over 100,000: around 78,000 times for the ‘debut’ video with a further 26,000 for an 'engine noise' version. If you’ve not already done so, please subscribe to our YouTube channel.
The contract again showcased the SVR’s testing abilities. Holdings Company deputy chairman Mike Ball told Branch Lines, “We have subsequently had enquiries about other testing contracts that could potentially bring in much-needed revenue, which Duncan Ballard, Matt Robinson, Andy Barr and I are fielding, including one possible job in the coming months.”
In addition, the SVR expects railtours both on and off the Railway in 2021 and continues to work with industry partners and Network Rail to plan the details.
Photo: 56312 collects 69001 from testing on the SVR to return to Longport on 12th March 2021. Bob Dunn
No hibernation for C&W!
Lighter evenings and signs of new life in the garden show that spring is here; meanwhile the teams in Carriage & Wagon have been hard at work on winter maintenance, Angela Walker reports:
Our carriage mechanical department look after everything below the carriage floor and had a very busy winter. First up GW restaurant carriage (RTO) 9653 was treated to brake rigging, drawgear refurbishment and steam heat testing.
1146 GW corridor third (TK) also received a planned routine exam, to check bushes and pins for wear, replace wheel bearings, and carry out repairs to the steam heat, as well as checking the radiators function correctly.
829, another GW corridor third (TK) carriage, is the latest star of the SVR’s YouTube channel! Behind the scenes with the Carriage & Wagon Team shows some of 829’s time in the works. As well as replacing the wheel sets on one bogie, the team checked bushes, pins and steam heat. Due to the replacement wheel diameter difference, the ride heights were checked and adjusted, and the carriage weighed. 829 is now positioned in the Great Western set.
12992 LMS corridor third (TK), built not too far away in Smethwick by the Birmingham Railway Carriage & Wagon Company, had its bogies sent away to Bristol for tyre turning due to wheel flats. They’ve since returned and been refitted under the coach. The brake rigging was examined and some loose bushes replaced. Other work included checking and adjusting ride heights. 12992 has now been returned to the LMS set, and GWR TK 1086 is now in the works receiving the same treatment.
16169 BR Corridor Composite (CK) has been completed mechanically. Following a successful test run, it’s now in position in the MK1 set, ready to run in a couple of weeks’ time.
Over into the paintshop, where BR TSO (tourist second open) 4345 arrived before Christmas for a smarten up, and due-by-date repaint. 4345 had a brief pause whilst works were carried out on 25771 BR corridor second (SK), replacing worn crash pillars and replacement metal work around the gangway fittings. Once this was done, and with 25771 back in the MK1 set and ready to run, the team are back at work on 4345, repairing corroded crash pillars on one end and replacing small body panels where necessary. This required the gangway faceplate to be removed and repaired. With all this complete, the team have now moved onto to paint work.
All of this routine maintenance keeps the fleet rolling smoothly and ready to welcome passengers back next week!
Click on the gallery for full, uncropped images and descriptions.
Home & Dry – Keeping Bridgnorth dry!
Annual raffles have long been a tradition within the Railway and since 2000 more than £500,000 has been raised from the sale of raffle tickets to invest in SVR projects. Recent recipients of raffle funds include the project to adapt GWR 9581 into a wheelchair-accessible buffet carriage and the 4150 fund, restoring GWR Large Prairie Tank Locomotive 4150.
This year, the SVR Charitable Trust, with the backing of the Severn Valley Railway Company Limited, hopes to raise £20,000 through the raffle, to be invested into Bridgnorth locomotive works. Essential improvements include a new roof, energy efficiency initiatives and an overhead travelling crane that will revolutionise the way work is carried out. This will protect people, locomotives and equipment, boost productivity and save money by reducing energy costs.
As fundraising manager Sue Chance explains, “Current conditions at Bridgnorth are less than ideal; wet people, wet locomotives and wet machinery are common sights on a rainy day as staff dodge the rain coming in through holes in the roof. Heavy equipment has to be shifted manually, wasting energy that could be better spent elsewhere.”
The ‘Home & Dry’ appeal in support of these works, will be officially launched next month. In the meantime, raffle tickets cost just £1.50 each or £15 for a book of 10. The top prize is £1,000, a second prize of £500 and a third prize of £250, with additional runner-up prizes too.
To request raffle books, please email email@example.com or call 01562 757940. The draw will take place at Bridgnorth station, at 12.30 pm on Wednesday 30th June 2021.
Photo: the roof and lighting are evident in this image of 46100 Royal Scot undergoing repairs in Bridgnorth MPD on 17th October 2020. Jim Norman
Disturbing the peace in Bewdley yard
On 30th March, the usual calm of Bewdley down yard was anything but, as a major reorganisation of vehicles took place. Yard master Clive Thompson tells Branch Lines what happened:
Many think of the yard as a place where carriages, wagons and the occasional locomotive sit rooted, whilst rails rust and vegetation takes hold. This large-scale reorganisation was intended to:
move a pair of DMU bogies to a position ready for road transport to Kidderminster
extract GWR 2-6-2T 4150 and its tool van (GWR Fruit D 92080) from the back corner to the front of the yard ready for onward transit to Bridgnorth to continue the loco’s restoration (the Fund’s March 2021 update includes further information and images)
move 0-6-0ST MW2047 Warwickshire and a wagon of large parts to the position vacated by 4150
trip GWR coaches 9581 and 4786 to Kidderminster for turning, then replace them in their respective positions to continue restoration
A major shunt like this requires two locomotives and shunt teams; one in the yard, pulling vehicles from sidings 4 and 5 via the head shunt alongside the car park, then placing them near the yard exit; the other working in the station area collecting said vehicles and positioning them on the lines in the station. And then of course the reverse occurs to return vehicles to the yard. Almost every vehicle in the yard had to be moved, and the opportunity was taken to re-position some other vehicles.
We’re indebted to all those who volunteered. In the yard Bob Dunn drove the resident Bewdley pilot (0-4-0 Ruston diesel shunter 319290), Colin Astbury was ground shunter, Graham Phillips drove the JCB for removal and replacement of access steps and other heavy items, and representatives of owning groups assisted as required. In the station we had ‘08’ shunter D3022 driven by Steve Jones with Dai Phillips acting as shunter and guard for the Kidderminster trip. We also had signalmen Bob Curtis and James Mort in Bewdley South and North boxes respectively, with James acting as travelling signalman for the trip to Kidderminster.
We achieved all our aims in an impressive nine-hour shunt on the warmest day of the year so far, and a second scheduled day wasn’t required. Most impressive was Colin Astbury who kept his pullover on throughout!
Now we can again watch the undergrowth take hold and the rails rust, for a while anyway!
Click on the gallery for full, uncropped images and descriptions.
Bridgnorth readies to reopen
As we move steadily towards reopening, much work is going on to give the best first impression to visitors at Bridgnorth, as station master Chris Thomas tells Branch Lines:
Perhaps the most obvious - is that which isn't there! The temporary disabled toilet has now been taken away so that a rapid tidy-up can proceed. We are also busy finishing off the new disabled facility, painting, tiling, putting all the fittings on the walls.
A mass weeding and moss removal session has left the platforms and terrace looking so much better. In the process, another 'now you don't see it…’ are the flowering cherry trees on platform 2, which have gone.
They had become too big for this location and the roots were damaging the platform wall, resulting the trees not being in the best of health.
At the north end of the site, the foot-crossing by the boiler shop has been resurfaced, as it is on the walking route from the main car park to the station. Next to this, there was some consternation caused by the unexpected arrival of four pallets of rail chairs in a public area. These are destined for Foley Park and should be gone before we reopen.
We are all looking forward to the simultaneous opening of the Railway and the bar. The Railwayman's Arms will have table service in a marquee to comply with government restrictions, but of course that's a great step forward from nothing.
We've appreciated the support of some of our Steam in Lights helpers in the last few weeks, and welcome new members to our team - please get in touch if you're available on a Tuesday or Saturday for our maintenance sessions.
Photo: Bridgnorth platform 2 with cherry trees removed, March 2021. Sue Thomas
Job opportunity at the Charitable Trust
The latest job opportunity is to join the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust and manage the delivery of the final phase of the restoration of the Falling Sands Viaduct, situated in Kidderminster.
The role will focus primarily on education, interpretation, community engagement and events. The prestigious £1.25m project is co-funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Details of the role can be found on the SVR’s employment webpage. Closing date is 30th April.
Education, engagement and new exhibitions
The physical restoration of Falling Sands Viaduct wrapped up in December 2020, but the project is far from over. The SVR Charitable Trust continues to work on the engagement and education side of the project - no easy feat during a pandemic. Although some of the original ideas had to be adapted to work with the uncertainty of Covid-19 restrictions, new opportunities have also arisen, as project officer Helen Russell explains:
“The Falling Sands Team is delighted to report that work has started on installing additional interpretation in the exhibition space at The Engine House. This will concentrate on the army of navvies who built the viaduct in 1875. To make the exhibition fun and interactive for children, visitors can build their own viaduct or dress up as a navvy to shift rocks and stones!”
Meanwhile the mobile Stove R exhibition will be expanded to include a film outlining how the viaduct was restored, featuring volunteer Nick Yarwood who oversaw all of the restoration work. This has also been launched on the SVR’s YouTube channel. Further interpretation panels will be installed in the carriage to explain more about the lives of those who built the Railway and how it changed the surrounding area.
Helen added, “In addition to these new exhibitions, some of the most important elements of the project are the educational activities. Before the pandemic, children from local primary schools visited the viaduct for a presentation, then created their own artwork. Later they travelled by steam train to see their work exhibited at The Engine House.”
In order to retain these important educational opportunities, the Falling Sands Team is working on ways to provide a service for schools, whilst complying with current Covid-19 restrictions.
Parcels for Puddles
Puddles the cat, who patrolled Bridgnorth station for 15 years has been the recipient of some exciting post!
As previously reported in Branch Lines, Puddles moved out of Bridgnorth in March last year, when the nation went into lockdown. She has since retired from station duties to a comfortable life living with The Railwaymans' Arms' manager, Samantha Hayward.
However, over the years Puddles has built up quite a fan base and has become accustomed to receiving gifts from some of her biggest fans. Since retirement, her fans have been unable to see her in person but that hasn’t stopped the gifts from coming!
A large parcel posted by a lady called Paula all the way from the south of England, arrived at Bridgnorth station addressed to Puddles in March. Puddles was very pleased with the contents which included toys and some top quality cat food. Add that to the Christmas present Paula sent to Puddles, and it would seem after years of hard work patrolling the yard and station (and catching the very occasional rodent) this former station cat is being pampered in her retirement!
Kidderminster Railway Museum awarded Culture Recovery Fund grant
Kidderminster Railway Museum (KRM) has benefitted from the second round of awards made by Arts Council England as part of the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund.
KRM has been awarded £19,025 to help it look ahead to the spring and summer and to plan for reopening and recovery. KRM’s director David Postle told Branch Lines:
“Although the lockdowns of the last 12 months have been difficult, some of that time was well spent in re-organising the displays and improving the way in which the collections can be accessed. We are looking forward to being able to welcome visitors back to the museum once we re-open after 17th May.
With the help of this grant, we will continue to develop and improve the facilities we can provide, making our collections more easily accessible and to a much wider audience.
“The grant will be used to further the public access to the collections, both physically by improving access to the upper floor through extending the existing building and providing lift facilities, and virtually, by improving the on-line facilities including virtual tours of the museum and its collections. We are grateful to the government and Arts Council England for this support.”
KRM is home to one of the largest collections of railway memorabilia outside the Railway Museum in York. It is housed in an 1878 GWR warehouse next to the SVR’s Kidderminster Town station. The railway hardware incorporates all aspects of the history of railways, from station signs, engine nameplates, office equipment and rolling stock to operational signalling equipment and a fully working signal box. In addition, there is a large archive of paperwork and photographs which is made available to publishers and researchers.
The Kidderminster Railway Museum Trust Limited is a charity that is independent of the SVR, although the two organisations work closely together.
This funding has been awarded to museums and other cultural bodies by Arts Council England. By contrast, the SVR’s award last year was made by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to heritage bodies.
Return of the 1940s events!
The SVR will transport visitors back in time with the triumphant return of the Step Back to the 1940s events. On June 26th and 27th and July 3rd and 4th, we’ll be celebrating the best of Britain on the home front.
The 16-mile line will burst into life with a wide a variety of interactive displays, including live events and a team of re-enactors. Visitors will experience a 1940s wedding, rifle training, vintage vehicles, marketplaces, living history displays, military encampments and more.
The Engine House Visitor Centre at Highley and all the SVR’s pubs and cafes also plan to open in line with the government roadmap.
After a difficult 2020, it is hoped this popular event will raise much needed funds for the Railway. Government restrictions mean a 43% reduction in capacity for the event, however this will still allow 4,000 passengers to enjoy this staple of the SVR events calendar.
General manager Helen Smith welcomed the return of Step Back to the 1940s:
“We know how popular this event is and we can’t wait to see a whole host of returning faces, along with some new ones, all looking for an exciting day of vintage discovery.
“Although we’ve had to change the event slightly to ensure a Covid-19 safe experience, we can guarantee a 1940s adventure to remember. The moment you step onto the Railway, you’ll be transported back in time to a world of George Formby, Laurel and Hardy, cold beer and spam sandwiches!”
Like all SVR tickets, those for the 1940s events are backed by the SVR’s Covid-19 guarantee and are available at www.svr.co.uk.
Photo: Ken Witherow
Shop till you drop for steam AND diesel
As the SVR's reopening approaches, the online shop is making sure you can look the part on your next visit - all inspired by our spring special events!
2999 Lady of Legend will be joining the SVR from Didcot Railway Centre for the Spring Steam Up. To mark the Saint class locomotive’s arrival on the Railway, there’s a full range of merchandise available. It’s suitable for all ages and includes hoodies, t-shirts, magnets and to help with that next SVR shopping trip, a Lady of Legend shopping bag!
For that all important cuppa, ‘Lady of Legend’ and ‘Lad of Legend’ mugs are available. Whether it’s tea, coffee or something stronger you fancy, these mugs will ensure the steam enthusiast can drink in style.
Accompanying the new collection is the 32-page glossy Spring Steam Up souvenir programme. Packed with a selection of interviews, loco descriptions, never-before-seen photos, an A3 poster, a quiz and much more, this limited-edition publication promises a superb read.
The SVR shop has gone full throttle for diesel fans too, with the launch of a range of limited edition Spring Diesel Bash merchandise.
Featuring vintage Class 33, Class 50 and Class 42 Warship artwork, there are a variety of items available including an eye-catching t-shirt, key rings, a mug and fridge magnets, and a Diesel Bash souvenir programme.
Guaranteed to help you look the part at the Spring Steam Up and May Spring Diesel Bash and throughout the summer, you can order all items from www.svrshop.co.uk or on 01562 757 900.
Grab a good read
The volunteer-run bookshop at Kidderminster Town station will be open for business on Monday 12th April, as the first visitors of 2021 come to the SVR.
It sells a wide range of railway-related books and magazines, and profits go towards the upkeep of the station and its gardens.
The theme of the extended closure period has been completing work on several projects. Infrastructure manager Chris Bond gives Branch Lines an overview:
Work on the drainage in Alveley Woods has taken place, installing a deep drain to intercept water coming off neighbouring land and lubricating the slip. There was great logistical support from the Ops team with a daily logistics train between Highley and Eardington, and an SVR road rail vehicle at two locations loading and unloading spoil and stone.
The P-Way team made an unwelcome discovery in March; the car park siding in Bewdley down yard required the replacement of sleepers on two panels of track before the ‘big shunt’ could take place. Plant, materials and labour were organised at short notice with a combination of staff and volunteers working hard to complete the task at short notice. P-Way also replaced a further 15 rotten wood sleepers on Engine Line 2 at Kidderminster, and ballasting at Foley Park and elsewhere in preparation for tamping work.
At Bridgnorth contractors have replaced the Cleobury Road bridge decking, with S&T reinstating the point rodding to finish the job. An external testing company has checked four other bridges for integrity of longitudinal timbers and has discovered that all is in good order with only some minor work required at Highley.
Work has taken place on the wooden Stourport line bracket signal to remove its rotten base and install a new concrete and steel shoe arrangement, using the steam crane.
Finally, during lockdown there has been damage to SVR fencing at multiple locations. We’re undertaking fencing repairs ahead of train services resuming.
Click on the gallery for full, uncropped images and descriptions.
Stop press: April ticket availability
This guidance is correct as of 8th April, our publication date. Up-to-date information and conditions are available on svr.co.uk.
Spring Steam Up 15th to 18th April
Tickets have sold well but there are still some available on all days on the first train from Kidderminster (train 1) and on the Bridgnorth train. All trains are three round trips, with all seven locos in turn!
Excursion trains in April
Both the Adventurer and Rambler excursions have availability. The Rambler is particularly good value, offering two full round trips from Kidderminster.
Details of trains that have unsold tickets will be advertised on the website the previous day, and then sold on the day of travel at the booking office.
Full details are available at svr.co.uk.
Photo: 43106 awaiting departure from Bridgnorth with ‘The Flyer’ back to Kidderminster on 31st October 2020. Dave Bissett
To everything, turn, turn, turn…
Lockdowns, Covid-19 safe working and health & safety restrictions after a fall-from-height incident have all impacted on the project to convert GWR 9581 into a wheelchair-accessible buffet carriage. The resulting delays mean that the LNER Coach Group now estimates that it won’t be able to hand over the carriage to the mechanical work and paint shop until 2023/4. But there is some good news, as 9581 has recently had the chance to stretch its legs!
The carriage had to be shunted away from its ‘home’ area at Bewdley, because the permanent way team were relaying the down yard. The SVR doesn’t like to miss an opportunity when it presents itself, so the decision was made to trundle 9581 down to Kidderminster and turn it on the table. It’s now back in exactly the same position, but turning the carriage has allowed easier access to the second side to fit and equip the remaining three doors, including a pair for the all-important wheelchair access. Group member Richard Gunning told Branch Lines more:
“Originally this was due to happen in April 2020, so it’s better late than never! Work on the floor replacement continues on the carriage with a small gang of competent carpenters scheduled for this task. The delays have been frustrating for those of us working on 9581, however turning the coach provides safe access for fitting the doors, which is a step in the right direction. Everybody from the LNER group is keen to get back to work on the carriage, and once the floor is safely in, we will be able to welcome the rest of the team back. Knowing that gives us an incentive to get this stage of the work finished as soon as possible!
“We really need more good quality wheelchair accessible carriages, as thankfully the old solution of carrying wheelchair users in luggage vans is no longer acceptable in the 21st century. We are very grateful for all the funds that have been raised for 9581 by the SVR Charitable Trust and we can’t wait to put it to good use.”
Photo: D3022 moves GWR 9581 and 4786 at Bewdley 30th March 2021. Richard Herington
Publication 8th April 2021.
V2 9th April 2021, CRF image replaced.
V3 13th April, corrected Railwayman's Arms
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Any opinions or views expressed in this newsletter are entirely the opinions of the contributors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Directors of Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) PLC. which owns the Severn Valley Railway, Severn Valley Railway Company Limited, the members of which are responsible for its operation, or the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust.