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April 2024

4930 Hagley Hall at Arley station on the organised night shoot on 29 March JOHN TITLOW.jpg
4930 Hagley Hall at Arley station on the organised night shoot on 29 March. JOHN TITLOW

Welcome to your latest edition of Branch Lines!

The SVR’s truly wonderful skills of adaptability came into their own this week, as the Railway deftly reorganised itself to manage the reality that two locos were not going to be available for the Spring Steam Gala, which starts a week today on 18 April.  

Sadly, 6880 ‘Betton Grange’ won’t be ready in time, and neither will the SVR-based 813. However, the last-minute addition of 1369 from the South Devon Railway, and some clever behind-the-scenes work on the loco roster mean absolutely no services will have to be sacrificed at the event. More details in our lead article, and let’s look forward to what promises to be a marvellous event. 

Who could fail to have their head turned by the sight of the magnificent ‘Blue Peter’? It’s been here for testing, and delighted many photographers, and visitors who caught an unexpected glimpse. We’ve also news of even more Spring Diesel Festival guests, and a round-up on the end of phase 2 of the Bridgnorth Yard project. 

We received a lovely comment from reader John Wilcox, who writes: “I am impressed by your monthly update on things `SVR`, especially the ongoing work for which we too often take for granted but give our gratitude for things `going forward`. Well done, and `power to your elbows.” 

Thanks John, on behalf of everyone who’s working hard at the SVR. Please come and see us soon!    

Lesley Carr, editor

The Branch Lines team is Lesley Carr, Karen Crick, Amy Baker, Pete Cherry, Dave Redbourne and Nicola Fox.

Next edition Thursday 9th May

What's new?

Pulling out all the stops for the Spring Steam Gala 

No 1369. MICK MEDLEY SDR.jpg

The SVR has been pulling together behind the scenes, pulling out all the stops to ensure a successful Spring Steam Gala on 18-21 April, after a number of last-minute changes became necessary.


An unexpected guest locomotive has been announced and some clever adjustments have been made to the roster following the late withdrawal of guest loco 6880 ‘Betton Grange’. 


Sadly, the new-build locomotive 6880 will no longer be able to appear.


Although it has now turned its first wheel in steam following construction, and testing has commenced at Tyseley Locomotive Works, this has come too late to allow sufficient loaded testing for it to take part in the Gala. The SVR’s managing director, Gus Dunster said:   

“Of course, it’s disappointing that ‘Betton Grange’ isn’t going to make it in time for our event, but as ever with anything related to heritage locomotives, there is unpredictability. We acknowledge that every effort has been made by all parties concerned for the locomotive to be with us for the Gala, but sadly this just isn’t possible.” 


Grange fans will have to wait until after the event to catch 6880 when it will come to the SVR for running in and, subject to successful testing, will be hauling trains during May. However, despite the late-stage alterations, the SVR timetabling team have been swift to put a plan into action for the gala that accommodates all the changes without the need to lose any services. 


Debuting its new livery, Stanier Mogul 13268 will take over 6880’s diagram, giving it the opportunity for very high mileage across the event. Additionally, 21C127 ‘Taw Valley’ will re-enter service, taking up the space vacated by 13268.  


On Monday, the SVR made the surprise announcement that GWR No 1369 will appear at the Gala, courtesy of the South Devon Railway. It will replace 813 for gala duties, as unfortunately, a leaking saddle tank has ruled the recently repaired home fleet member out of action. 


A Collett locomotive and sole survivor of its class, 1369 was completed at Swindon in February 1934 and began life as a shunting engine at Swindon works, transferring to the Weymouth Quay branch in Dorset then the Wenford Bridge china-clay branch in Cornwall, where it was withdrawn from service in 1964.  


1369 will join previously announced guest 72 ‘Fenchurch’ on its first visit to the SVR, and former colliery locomotive Lambton Tank 29. Gus said: 


“We’re extremely grateful to the South Devon Railway for agreeing to the appearance of 1369 at our Spring Steam Gala. It will be a great attraction, as the sole survivor of its very small original class of just six engines. 


“There have been a number of late changes to this year’s Spring Steam Gala, but we’re determined to put on a top-notch show. The Stanier Mogul’s re-entry into service is set to be a major highlight of the event. We’ve kept it under wraps since it has received its superb new livery, and it will debut at the Gala in the LMS lined black livery it originally carried when it first entered service in the 1930s.” 


For more information on the many attractions available at the Spring Steam Gala or to book, visit   

Locomotive No 1369. MICK MEDLEY - SDR

‘Blue Peter’ steams on the SVR!

No 60532 ‘Blue Peter’ has been getting in some miles on SVR metals as planned testing took place during March.  


Out of service since 2002, No 60532 was the eighth member of the LNER Peppercorn ‘A2’ Class to be completed at Doncaster Works but was outshopped under BR in March 1948. Withdrawn in 1966, it was purchased for presentation by the late Geoff Drury.  


A campaign by the children’s TV show that shared its name saw the locomotive re-launched in front of the Blue Peter TV cameras at Doncaster Works open day in 1971. In 1992 the locomotive obtained its mainline certificate and began a career hauling main line charters, which lasted until the expiration of its boiler ticket. 


After long periods of static display, and now under the ownership of Royal Scot Locomotive and General Trust, 60532’s recent testing comes after the completion of the overhaul by Locomotive Services Group (LSG), ahead of its return to main line operation.  


The testing, conducted by LSG with the support of the SVR, began on 20 March and progressed to include loaded testing runs, both on non-running and running days, when the testing trains fitted in around timetable B.   

Blue peter on test at Kidderminster Station MIKE ANDERSON.jpg

Blue Peter on test at Kidderminster Station. MIKE ANDERSON

The guest list for the Spring Diesel Festival just got longer!

A Class 73 locomotive, a second class 70 locomotive and a pair of Class 43 High Speed Train power cars are the latest guests to join the ever-expanding roster for the forthcoming Spring Diesel Festival, which takes place across four days, from 16-19 May. 

Joining the Freightliner Class 70 that was announced last month, will be a Colas Class 70. The Colas diesels carry a striking yellow, black and orange livery, which will present a strong contrast with the corporate green and yellow livery of the Freightliner Class 70.  


Besides the pair of Class 70s will be another mainline locomotive, as Class 73 73119 will attend courtesy of main line operator GB Railfreight. A third-rail DC electric locomotive, the class 73s are also fitted with a 650hp diesel engine, allowing them to operate away from electrified rail, providing an additional curiosity value to this already exciting event.  


The appearance of this particular locomotive will be especially poignant to many at the line, as it has been named after longstanding SVR supporter Paul Taylor. Paul was a strong champion of both the SVR and the SVR-based Class 50 Alliance, often using its locomotives on the charity rail tours he organised, and helping to provide GBRf diesels at SVR events.  

The most recent addition to the Spring Diesel Festival guest list is the pair of Class 43 High Speed Train power cars, which are coming courtesy of Rail Adventure UK, and are expected to go down extremely well with visitors. 

Built between 1976 and 1982 these power cars and were arguably part of the most successful train ever built in the UK. They revolutionised train travel in the country, travelling at 125mph on many of the key intercity routes. 

“The SVR is extremely fortunate to have such close links with main-line operators,” said managing director Gus Dunster. “Thanks to all their support, the line-up for our first major diesel enthusiast event of 2024 is going from strength to strength.  

“Having the two class 70s in their contrasting liveries at our event is going to be a highly unusual sight and we are delighted that Rail Adventure UK Ltd are able to supply two of their Class 43s again this year; these proved to be very popular at our last spring diesel event. Then, we were only able to have them in service for one of the days, but this time round, we’ll have them in operation on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the event.” 

For more information on the ever-growing roster and to book visit  

Phase 2A of the Bridgnorth Yard project is all but complete!

In the past month, the pit floor has been raised using concrete and a new sump cover made to fit. Concrete steps have been poured at the shed end and extended at the other end. Alongside the pit, because the yard is now all on one level, yellow lines have been applied. Volunteer project manager Nick Yarwood sends this report: 


Phase 2a is all but complete, thanks to the work and dedication of volunteers and staff who worked incredibly hard to achieve some remarkable construction works, at about half the cost of contracting it out. Almost without exception, volunteers have said they’d enjoyed doing something different. OK, there were a few mentions of aches in the days afterwards, but it was all worth it! 


Before any heavy locos could be driven onto the pit, it was important to observe how the newly laid track was performing. This was done using the 08 shunter slowly making its way firstly along road 1, next to the back of platform 2, and then along road 2 approaching the pit. Some initial deflection has since settled, and may do so for a while yet. It’s hoped the Colas track tamper, at the SVR for training purposes, may be able to tamp both the newly laid turnout and some of the two roads. Otherwise, it’s back to traditional jacking and packing. 


There’s a water leak or leaks somewhere on the water column take-off pipe that feeds the yard cabinet, potentially in addition to the visible, but inaccessible one, inside the cabinet sump. Locating and fixing the leaks is a priority to safeguard the nearby infrastructure, including the newly modified pit. 


Having successfully passed the initial loading test, some repeated traverses by heavier locomotives were carried out. We’ll monitor the levels to determine when it has stabilised, and after packing to level, the plan is to complete concreting works with an ash-drop between the concrete sleepers on the approach to the pit, and a walkaway across the end of the pit. Additionally, we’ve used material from excavations to lay a hard path alongside the shed, edged on each side by ash.  


In the next couple of weeks, discussion is taking place about the next phase. We know from lifting roads 1 and 2 that the track is in a poor state. It sits in wet ground, has no ballast and no positive drainage. The problems are evident, and it won’t be easy. 


There is drainage work, waterproofing the tunnel bridge, track components to obtain and lay, concreting to be done and the tricky bit - how to fund it. Whatever can be obtained second-hand makes it all the more feasible. So, if you have contacts that may be interested in helping, please give them a call and let us know…..  

Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.

Open House

Another of the SVR’s popular Open House weekends took place on 6 and 7 April, allowing visitors rare access to behind–the-scenes areas. Staff and volunteers were able to share their passion and expertise, and this received an enthusiastic response.  


With the Railway seeing packed platforms and busy trains, volunteer photographer Kevin Whitehurst was on hand during the weekend to capture a series of fabulous images as passengers made the most of Saturday’s sunshine and all the attractions on offer. Although Sunday’s footfall was slightly hampered by the return of wet weather and the threat of storm Kathleen, feedback throughout the event was positive.  


Visitors enjoyed guided tours across the length of the Railway. The DMU shuttle in particular, which included stops at the recently reopened Eardington station, was a popular draw.  


“There was a lot of positive feedback from the visitors who came into Bridgnorth shed,” said Bridgnorth’s volunteer shedmaster Martin White. “Some of them hadn’t visited since the refurbishment of the roof and crane installation was completed.  Some visitors specifically wanted to see and ask questions about the yard-relay project, and were especially impressed with the lifting of the roads, done to give the yard a level surface across all five roads.” 


“Another fine show put on by the SVR,” added visitor engagement manager Lewis Maddox. “I was on the Railway on Saturday and was thrilled to see so many SVR people out and about, showcasing all the amazing things the SVR has to offer. I really enjoyed a look around the works at Bridgnorth and getting off a DMU at Eardington Station – magic!”  

Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.

What's coming up?

Model Railways take over at The Engine House

The annual spring Model Railway Weekend will see around 30 displays taking over at The Engine House, Highley, on Saturday 4 and Sunday 5 May. 

Model-railway enthusiasts are in for a treat at this popular event with exhibitors travelling from far and wide.  Layouts on display during the weekend include Temple Bridge, Snowy River Railroad and Puffin Colliery, plus many more. 


The displays will be set up against the backdrop of Engine House locos including ‘Gordon’ the blue engine and 7819 ‘Hinton Manor’. Don’t forget to treat yourself at the café and enjoy views of the Railway from the balcony.  

The Model Railway event will be open from 10.30am to 5pm with last entry at 4.30pm.  Timetable B will be in operation so you can make a day of it, by travelling in style in a vintage carriage hauled by a  steam or diesel locomotive. 


O Gauge model railway layout – Photo: CHARLIE COOKE   

Charlie-Cooke-0 Gauge.jpeg.webp

Step on board for a fine-dining experience

Spring has well and truly sprung, and the SVR has some wonderful dining experiences in the coming weeks. 

In May, a special Afternoon Tea will mark the 95th Birthday of Hagley Hall.  Bookings are open for the weekend of 25 and 26 May, with just a limited number of places available. 

For those looking to treat Dad and loved ones, there’s a premium Father’s Day lunch on Sunday 16 June.  Indulge in a delicious three-course roast dinner and take in the beautiful scenic views from the train, whilst dining in a show-stopping First Class carriage. 

This summer also sees the return of the popular Fish and Chip trains. Tickets are on sale now and early booking is essential because of the expected high demand. The first Fish and Chip Trains will depart from Kidderminster on Saturday 20 July. 

SVR members will receive a 33% discount on their travel, which includes a ‘freedom of the line’ ticket. Additionally, the popular Travelling Tavern will be open on each train, selling cask beer to enhance the overall experience. 

The full dining experiences calendar with details of all the above events is at  

And finally, the Valley Suite at Kidderminster has a Steak and Wine evening on Saturday 27 April. The perfect opportunity to indulge in a mouth-watering steak dinner, with a bottle of the finest house wine, for a relaxed evening with friends or family.  

Photos: Fish & Chip Train, afternoon tea, oriental express & tea pot afternoon tea. 


Mike Hulme appointed to Holdings Board

Subject to approval at the forthcoming AGM on 22 June, Mike Hulme has been appointed to the vacant director’s position on the SVR Holdings Board. 

Mike has an impressive career behind him, which includes many years at Alstom where he held various senior positions including site managing director of the Derby Rolling Stock Site, delivering projects in both development and execution phases: most notably the Aventra fleets and HS2.  

SVR (Holdings) chairman Chris Walton: 

“I am very pleased to be able to announce the appointment of Mike Hulme. As well as his impressive professional career, Mike is keen supporter of heritage railways, and I invite all members and volunteers to join me in welcoming him to the SVR.”  

Mike Hulme.Jpg

Across The Railway

A window in time to the 1950s

SVR supporter Rob Watt has shared these family photos, which show the daily reality of a quiet Bridgnorth station circa 1953, and a glimpse into one of the many human stories that make up the historic tapestry of the Railway.  


Pictured are Rob’s cousins Patricia and John, with Rob’s mother in the background of one of the photos.


Residents of Astley Abbots in Shropshire, the children lived with their aunt and uncle for several years while their father served in the navy.


Although these images date from before Rob himself was born, he suggests that perhaps the photos were taken while the children were either waiting for a train that would connect them on to Coventry to reunite with their father, or there to wave him off after he had joined them for a visit. 

Bridgnorth station 1953 - Cousin John.

Bridgnorth 1953 - Cousin Patricia with Rob's mother in the background.

50mph testing for the SVR?

The SVR has taken an important step towards being able to facilitate 50mph testing, in a bid to expand what it can offer to external companies, potentially opening up further sources of revenue from commercial contracts. 


During March, the Railway welcomed a small team from Network Rail for the purposes of carrying out a ‘curved laser’ survey of the line between Kidderminster and Bewdley.  


The purpose of the survey was to gather information and allow a design for the track to be created to see what improvements are required to bring this section up to the required standard for 50mph running. The survey was carried out at no cost to the SVR. Head of infrastructure Chris Bond said:  

“For some time, we’ve been looking at upgrading the Kidderminster to Bewdley section for external testing contracts only. The survey was courtesy of our contacts within Network Rail, and the ever-blossoming partnership we have with them.”  

75069 at Stourport Triangle Easter Holidays   KIEREN HARDY.jpeg

While there is no timescale yet for the fulfilment of this project, the hope is that the survey work will result in a clear list of jobs to be undertaken to bring this section up to the required standard, prior to a submission to the Office of Road & Rail for a permanent derogation. 

75069 at Stourport Triangle Easter Holidays.   KIEREN HARDY

50mph testing for the SVR? 

Rolling stock

Catch-up time at Bridgnorth Motive Power Depot

During the recent Open House weekend, volunteer shedmaster Martin White found himself answering questions about a number of individual locomotives, so his notes this month will focus on these, in order to share the news more widely: 


Firstly 813, which during the Open House event could be found inside the shed with a bunker full of coal seemingly ready for action. The ESMP paid staff have recently done a fantastic job on reassembling the loco after the replacement of its dragbox and frame stretcher casting. However, when it was being readied for a steam test it was found that the saddle tank has finally succumbed to corrosion and old age and is now leaking ‘like a sieve’. The previous internal patches and filler repairs are no longer sound and numerous leaks occurred when the tank was filled with water for the first time in almost two years. Various options are now being explored in order to get the loco back into traffic later this year, but sadly it will be a while longer before this happens. 


34027 ‘Taw Valley’ had been withdrawn from traffic after the Winter Steam Gala in January, pending an intermediate overhaul. However, it has recently been re-prepared for use and steam tested. Its boiler is still in ticket as its annual examination is only due in the middle of May. The presence of ‘Taw Valley’ for a month or so, as a loco that is available if needed, has been agreed with the owners. It had been a deliberate decision to hold back on doing anything to the loco and no work had taken place to commence the strip down ahead of the overhaul. Amongst the reasons for this decision was the immediate workload of examinations and winter maintenance expected on other locomotives, including 7812’s tender and 7714. 


7714 is currently awaiting the delivery of two new boiler flue tubes as these were found to be in need of replacement during its annual exam. SVR’s tube supplier has assured us that they will be delivered in time for the boilersmiths to fit them, and all being well for the loco to be tested and signed off by the insurance surveyor before the Spring Steam Gala. 


7812’s tender was visible for visitors on the works lifting jacks during Open House weekend, having had 10 spring hanger brackets replaced. This necessitated the rivets which hold the brackets in place being removed, the holes being reamed (the metal being cleaned up and prepared for new rivets) and the new brackets then being riveted in place. With this work completed, the tender was due to be reassembled during the week of publication, so that ‘Erlestoke’ is available for the Spring Steam Gala.  

Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits

Other news

Testing, testing…

In the first few months of this year, the Railway has been hosting another round of SmartWeed System train testing, this time with operator Envu. This operation was designed to test new software installed in the three trains, which operates the highly sophisticated weed and vegetation control mechanisms that they carry. These require a software upgrade each winter. 

Although the sets ran intensively along the line between Bewdley and Kidderminster, their presence wasn’t intended to actually deliver weed spraying, as this would have been the wrong time of year to carry out that activity. Weed control is most effectively carried out in early to mid-May. 

The contract brought in considerable additional revenue to the Railway, and operations were carried out without impacting on our own operations or our visitors in any way.

Envu's SmartWeed system train under test near the Rifle Range. Credit GARY ESSEX.jpg

Envu's SmartWeed system train under test near the Rifle Range. Credit GARY ESSEX

Volunteer recruitment at Open House

Barry Moreton Ann Hartley Paul Appleton Kate Wood and Neil Limbrick on a recruitment drive

Members of the SVR’s staffing committee mounted a charm offensive at Kidderminster Town station on the Saturday of Open House, as they engaged with visitors and sounded out their interest in volunteering for the Railway.  

“It was very low-key affair,” explained the committee’s co-chair Paul Appleton, “and a bit of a toe in the water to understand whether this would be an effective way to attract new volunteers to the Railway.” 

“We thought people who come to an event like Open House are probably already fairly curious about what goes on behind the scenes, and so might be interested in getting involved personally.”


It was soon realised that the morning rush to find seats and get on busy trains was not an ideal time to try and grab people’s attention and so the stand was strategically relocated ready to engage passengers as they disembarked trains in the afternoon.

This proved to be a much better opportunity and several potential new volunteers were able to sit down with Barry Moreton to fill in the necessary forms, while the rest of the team ensured plenty more left with leaflets in hand, having talked through the options and identified potential roles for them.   

“Potential volunteers included a retired chef who has just moved to Bewdley,” added co-chair Neil Limbrick, “plus a family of painters and decorators who were signed up by their spouses to ‘keep them out of trouble’ and a couple with retail experience who were very excited about the idea of being able to work together in the on-train buffet. 

“Overall, it was a really valuable day. As well as signing up some new volunteers, we got a better understanding of who our target audience are and ways to commandeer them. It also afforded the excuse to hang around the station and catch up with colleagues who were as welcoming and professional as always!”  

Photo:    Barry Moreton, Ann Hartley, Paul Appleton, Kate Wood and Neil Limbrick on a recruitment drive at Open House.

Foley Park regains its sidings!

The sidings at Foley Park have been reinstated for a brand-new purpose, almost a century after they were first laid. Initially they’ll be used to stable an external permanent way unit, and there are hopes that with further upgrades, more revenue-earning uses will be found. 


Once the site of the first stop on the Kidderminster to Bewdley loop line, all traces of the halt at Foley Park have long since been erased. However, work so far on the sidings has included installing a crossover from the running line, and the creation of a short siding with head shunt, which is expected to be in use from 12 April. This will be used as a stabling point for the Harsco stone-blowing unit, which will be on the SVR for most of 2024 as part of a mutually beneficial partnership. 


The original sidings were laid in the 1920s to serve the nearby sugar beet factory, and removed in the 1980s.  


Further plans are in the works to maximise the revenue-earning possibilities of the site, including laying three long sidings which could be offered out as a commercial rolling stock storage facility. Head of infrastructure Chris Bond said: 

“It will require a lot of work to further clear the area to prepare for the laying of the sidings, and timetables will be subject to what materials and resources we can pull together to achieve this. If possible, we will look to make a start on this in 2024, as the sooner it’s completed, the sooner we can see some revenue flowing in.”  

Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.

Bluey makes a bright Easter, with more to follow!

The Easter weekend proved a great success, with visitors flocking to the railway for several days of family fun.  


Highlights from the weekend included a mini station gala at Bridgnorth, an Easter quiz and a visit from international TV star Bluey! Visitor engagement manager Lewis Maddox said: 

“Our second character visit of the year was a great success – and a sell-out! Bluey took centre stage on March 23 and 24 at The Engine House, alongside crazy golf and magic shows, with families having the opportunity to meet the Australian pup for a cuddle and a photograph.” 

Hot on Bluey’s heels, the Railway is now gearing up for the next celebrity visit, this time from Hey Duggee, who will be appearing at The Engine House at regular intervals throughout the day on Saturday 8 and Sunday 9 June.


Pre-booking is essential for this event, with trains travelling from either Kidderminster or Bridgnorth to The Engine House for a photo opportunity at pre-booked times.  

As well as exploring the interactive exhibits on offer at The Engine House and the outdoor play area, the ticket price once again includes magic shows at 11.30am, 1.00pm, 2.00pm, 3.15pm and 4.00pm, and mini-golf from 11am to 4pm for all the family to enjoy. 

For more information and to book tickets visit  

Bluey at The Engine House - from SVR FB

Bridgnorth Station mini gala - SVR FB

Two Colas tampers at the SVR 

A second brand-new Plasser-built 09 tamper (DR 75017) arrived at the SVR on Tuesday evening, hauled by a loco from the main line, as none of these machines has Network Rail acceptance to run under their own power as yet.  

It joined its classmate DR 75016, already at the Railway. Both are owned by Colas and are at the SVR to undergo commissioning.


Trials began on Tuesday this week, with the first machine running the full line to gather data, after which a programme of works will be commenced.  


“The commissioning programme is part of a partnership arrangement between the SVR and Colas,” explained infrastructure manager Chris Bond. “It means our line can receive expert attention from two state-of-the-art machines.   


“We had a similar arrangement last year, when SB Rail’s dynamic tamper visited in October. Our video team made a film about this, which you can still watch on the SVR’s YouTube channel.”    

Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.

V1 11th April 2024

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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.

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