This month's cover image of 34081 departing Bridgnorth on 18/03/17 by Ian Murray.
Welcome to the first edition of Branch Lines!
Welcome to the first edition of Branch Lines, the brand new e-newsletter for SVR supporters.
Published during the first week of each month, Branch Lines will bring you news about what’s going on along the Railway, including updates on the many restoration projects currently underway, including the latest on the ambitious Bridgnorth development.
We’ve launched Branch Lines to help keep you fully informed on what’s going on at the Railway, and we hope you’ll find it interesting and enjoyable. It’s about giving an insight into what makes the SVR tick, and how our amazing 1,700 volunteers carry out their roles with enthusiasm, dedication and often a dash of ingenuity!
Please do get in touch with questions and comments - we’d very much like to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org
Simon Turner & Lesley Carr, Co-Editors
SVR is Worcestershire’s ‘Best Visitor Attraction’
The Railway has been crowned ‘Best Visitor Attraction in Worcestershire’ in the What’s On Readers’ Awards. Re-acting to the announcement, events co-ordinator Lewis Maddox said:
“We’re absolutely thrilled with this accolade. Around 45,000 votes were cast, and we came out on top.
“2016 was a huge year for us, with the visit of Flying Scotsman and the launch of the Bridgnorth Share offer. Receiving this award is the icing on the cake. Thank you to everyone who voted for us, it means a great deal.”
Picture by Stephanie Hill
50 Glorious Years!
The train now arriving at platform two, 50 years ago!
Last week we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the SVR’s first locomotive, as a heritage line. On 25th March 1967, Loco No 3205 arrived at Bridgnorth station, the first engine there since BR closed the line four years earlier.
Fifty years ago, 3205 was diesel-hauled to Stourbridge from the South Devon Railway. Then she travelled the final 30 miles to Bridgnorth, under her own steam. The drivers that day were John Hill and Cyril Williams, and the fireman was Gerry Carter.
Have a look at this amazing archive footage of the event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyUiANXyttg
As the gleaming engine arrived on platform two just after midday, she was greeted by the Mayor of Bridgnorth. The event drew thousands of visitors over the course of a three-day celebration, with the loco carrying passengers in two coaches from the station to Oldbury viaduct and back.
John Hill, who is still volunteering at the Railway 50 years on, looks back on the day’s excitement:
“It was a real reward for all the hard work we’d done 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 is a founder Member, volunteer, and was the editor of SVR News at the time of 3205’s arrival, a role which he continues to the present day. He adds:
“Those who were there will never forget the excitement of that first great weekend and my own best memory was a footplate ride with driver John Hill and fireman John Denson to Hampton Loade.
“The arrival of our first locomotive, very appropriately a mainline Great Western one, 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, 3205’s arrival made people in the West Midlands believe in us and really boosted membership and financial support. We continue to need that support to this day as we work to preserve precious memories of steam for future generations.”
The 50th anniversary attracted plenty of press attention last week, and you might have caught one of the broadcasts on BBC Midlands Today, Central News or BBC Hereford & Worcester, or seen one of the many newspaper articles. Driver John Hill played a starring role with the press, sharing his recollections of the event. The coverage has further boosted our campaign for the Share Offer in support of the Bridgnorth Development. See the separate article in this edition of Branch Lines about the Share Offer reaching the £1 million milestone.
Back in 1967 when 3205 arrived on the line, it was less than two years since the inauguration of the Severn Valley Railway Society. The loco’s arrival boosted the fundraising efforts to secure the £22,500 needed to buy and restore the six-and-a-half mile track between Bridgnorth and Hampton Loade.
It’s Open House next weekend
Members and shareholders are warmly invited to the Railway’s Open House event, this coming weekend, the 8th and 9th April. There’ll be behind-the-scenes tours of Bridgnorth Locomotive Works, Bewdley Yard and the Bridgnorth, Bewdley North and Kidderminster signal boxes will also be open for visits.
Plus there’ll be up to 30 model railway layouts in the Diesel Depot at Kidderminster and the Engine House, Highley. An intensive train service completes the enjoyment.
Normal fare prices apply for visitors over the weekend, but members will receive the usual discount and shareholders can either use their free tickets or receive member’s reduced rates during the event if they show their shareholder’s newsletter at the booking offices. Full details at svr.co.uk
Brake Van rides raise £1,270 for the Charitable Trust
Huge thanks to everyone involved in putting on the Brake Van rides at the Spring Steam Gala, including volunteer loco crews, guards, hosts, signalmen and station staff . Your hard work has raised an impressive £1,270 from donations made by visitors, after Gift Aid and match funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This money is going to the Trust’s endowment Future Fund and will help safeguard the long-term survival of the SVR.
Please visit the Charitable Trust website for details of the time-limited opportunity to double donations thanks to HLF.
Bridgnorth works progress
During the past week there’s been further progress with the ground beams, and construction is under way for the beams next to the platform. A great deal of preparation is needed before the contractors can lower the reinforcement steel cages into place, and shutter them up ready for concreting.
The contractors are intentionally leaving the top of the concrete piles longer than needed. Infrastructure Manager Chris Bond explains why:
“This is done so that they can crop them down to an accurate level and tie them into the ground beams. You’ll see in the photos how they are cutting the steel pile casing to the required height, then chiselling off the concrete to match. This may seem a backwards way of doing things, but it’s much better to have spare height on the piles than for them to be too short.”
Elsewhere on site, preparations are being made to construct a series of four brick test panels. Chris says:
“We’ve acquired a pallet of the bricks that we’ll use on the building, and by making up the test panels, we can choose which combination of aggregate and mortar colour we prefer.
“I’m delighted to announce that we’ve obtained a beautiful Edwardian fireplace, very similar to the one that adorns the waiting room at Highley. This will form a centrepiece within the refreshment rooms and very nice it will look too!”
Exclusive polo shirt for Members only!
The Railway is celebrating the launch of its 2017 summer clothing range with an exclusive polo shirt that will only be available to SVR Members.
The specially-designed burgundy shirts, complete with ‘Member’ detail next to the SVR logo, are available in men’s and ladies’ sizes.
If you’re unsure on sizing, please visit the Kidderminster or Highley shops, where you can check out which one will be best for you.
The shirts are priced at £22.49 for working Members and £24.99 for non-working Members, and will be made to order. Please order via the Kidderminster shop on 01562 757517, email Kidderminster.email@example.com. The first order will be sent to the manufacturers in May.
Order yours soon, and let everyone know how proud you are to be in the Severn Valley Railway family!
How has the Charitable Trust helped the Railway?
The SVR Charitable Trust was determined to make a splash at the Spring Steam Gala to spread the news on how it has contributed to various projects around the Railway. Driver Roger Scanlon was about to take Sir Keith Park up the line to Bridgnorth with the Sunday lunch dining service, but just had enough time for a photo call next to the Trust’s banner on the Kidderminster concourse, to point out some of the ways in which it has helped.
Roger is also on the board of Trustees and is passionate about keeping up the fund raising momentum:
“Right now, we’re getting very close to the end of our match funding offer from the Heritage Lottery Fund. They’ve pledged to double every donation made to our endowment Future Fund, up to a maximum of £500,000, to produce a pot of £1million to help secure the SVR’s future. The window closes in June, so we’re asking everyone to make the most of this before time runs out”
Please add your support before June to the £1 million Restoration Appeal and HLF will double your donation.
Share offer passes £1m and we’re on track for a summer opening for Bridgnorth's new refreshment room
Applications to purchase shares to fund the Bridgnorth Station development have now passed the £1million mark, five months into the share offer campaign.
Shortly after reaching the ‘magic million’, news also came that the flagship project in phase one of the development, the new GWR-style refreshment room, looks set for completion by the end of the summer, despite minor delays with ground works earlier in the year.
Special historically-accurate bricks for the decorative areas of the brickwork are already made and in store, ready for delivery to site within weeks. Meanwhile teams at the Railway will be building sample walls with a range of mortars to find the most historically-appropriate.
With the sale of a further 1.5 million shares still needed in just seven months, a digital and media advertising campaign is now underway to encourage further share applications.
You can find full share offer information at www.svr.co.uk/shareoffer or by calling 01562 757900.
See our ‘Bridgnorth works progress’ article for more detailed information on what’s been happening on site recently, or check the SVR Live page http://www.svrlive.com/bridgnorth-development
Spring Steam Gala hailed as success
Cloudy skies did not dampen the spirits of passengers visiting our Spring Steam Gala, and 92 Squadron’s ‘go faster stripes’ certainly brightened up the weekend!
There was good news on passenger numbers, with 4,537 tickets sold against a budget figure of 4,300. This is a huge increase of 28% on the 3,537 tickets that were purchased in 2016. The success is down to the hard work of everyone who plans and takes part in the event.
And there’s more – the secondary spend was also up by 31% on last year, with the shops, restaurants and bars taking £66,000 over the three days.
Events co-ordinator Lewis Maddox adds:
“Operationally the event was a success, bar one or two minor problems with late running during the evenings. Additionally, Sunday’s service was delayed due to an incident involving the scrambling of an air ambulance to a photographer near Bewdley.
“Plans are now afoot for our Autumn Steam Gala, as well as our Galas for 2018, with one or two interesting themes and locomotives to look out for! All will be revealed soon.
“On behalf of the Gala Committee, thank you to everyone who helped to provide our customers with a fantastic event! Onwards and upwards!”
Kidderminster Station Master Geoff Smith agrees:
“I thought the visitors enjoyed themselves, and were pleased with the time table, as they could ride behind all the locos without any problems. The booking hall was well up on last year, and the stall holders were pleased with what they took. My thanks to all the staff that helped to make the Gala a huge success.”
And these sentiments are echoed by Bridgnorth Station Master, Chris Thomas:
“We’ve seen a great team effort in the week leading up to the Gala, and the weekend itself resulted in a very successful experience both for visitor enjoyment and financial results.”
If you missed the Gala, there are plenty of videos on youtube.com – here are links to a couple:
Pictures by Cameron Reid, Chris Reason, Lewis Maddox & Ian Murray
Thanks for reading!
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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 either Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) PLC. which owns the Severn Valley Railway, or Severn Valley Railway Company Limited, the members of which are responsible for its operation.
SVR working with Vélo Birmingham to minimise Autumn Gala disruption
A major closed road cycling event is taking place in the Midlands on Sunday 24th September, and there have been concerns that it could impact on SVR visitors as they travel to and from the Kidderminster and Bewdley areas during the last day of the Railway’s Autumn Steam Gala.
The organisers of Vélo Birmingham are expecting 15,000 cyclists to take part in their event, which starts in the city centre on the morning of the 24th. They have arranged for 100 miles of roads to be closed to allow the cyclists to travel safely, and hope that the event will raise more than £1 million for charity.
Events Co-ordinator Lewis Maddox has already met with Vélo Birmingham’s Operations Manager to discuss the issues. He says:
“We’ll continue to work together to ensure appropriate measures are put in place, such as road diversions and signage, to minimise the disruption to our event on the day. As the details become clearer, we’ll issue further updates. We hope that we can make arrangements that will suit both events, and that we’ll be able to keep the inconvenience to Gala visitors down as much as possible.”
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