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August 2017

50035 approaches Little Rock from the south with the 14:45 from Kidderminster on the 6th June 2017 - By Ian Murray

Welcome to your latest edition of Branch Lines!

If you’ve visited the Railway recently, you’ll have seen that it’s a hive of activity. Every day the summer holiday crowds come for the chance to step back into a golden era of travel. And behind the scenes, our volunteers and staffing are busy keeping everything in good order, and working to restore locomotives, carriages and wagons. As you’ll read in this edition of Branch Lines, there’s always something going on!



This month we look at the care and attention we’re taking to get the brickwork just right for our new Bridgnorth building, and we hear about the FAQ page that’s been set up for people who want to know more about the Share Offer in support of the Bridgnorth Project, before they commit to buying. There’s news from the Charitable Trust about a new source of funding for the Heritage Skills Training Academy and reports from across the SVR.


If this is your first edition of Branch Lines, we welcome you! Our monthly e-publication is intended for SVR Members, Shareholders and anyone who takes a close interest in the wonderful Severn Valley Railway and what goes on behind the scenes to keep this superb example of living history in working order.


We always love to hear from readers, especially when they say something nice! David Twiss emailed to say: “In in my view, Branch Lines is really well written and set out. The articles are just the right length, well illustrated, and in a font that can be read easily. Good stuff!”


Meanwhile, David Pond writes from South Africa, wondering if other readers might like to know a little more about steam rail in his country. We were interested to read that main line steam travel was still going there well into the mid 1980s! David sent a link to article he thought SVR folk might find interesting about a Class 26 steam loco, nicknamed the Red Devil. Find out more at


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Simon Turner & Lesley Carr, Co-Editors 

Picture by Ian Murray

Bridgnorth: Brick by brick


As the walls continue to grow at the Bridgnorth Development site, Infrastructure Manager Chris Bond explains how the bricklayers are taking a great deal of care to get things as authentic as possible, whilst still meeting modern building regulations:


“We have to remember that originally the GWR would invariably have built a nine-inch solid wall, without the insulating cavity that’s required nowadays. They created the traditional English Bond pattern by laying alternate rows of ‘stretchers’, with the long side facing out, and ‘headers’, with the short end facing out.


“When we build a modern cavity wall, the stretcher row is straightforward, but when it comes to the header rows, we have to cut every brick in half so they don’t fill the cavity. We’ve had to cut around 13,000 bricks, and the project team are determined to make sure that this is done to the highest standards. We’re devoting time and care to this technical challenge to make sure the finished product is as close to GWR practice as possible.”


Another sign of progress has been the erection of scaffolding on the platform elevation in readiness to work upwards, once the block work behind has been tied in.


Furthermore, contractors are now preparing the way for all the services to be bought up to the area outside the station. They’ve excavated a quantity of spoil in readiness for the trench that will bring the underground ducts up alongside the Donkey Gallop. At the same time, they have extended underground ducts up to the bottom of the Donkey Gallop from the road, and made arrangements with the relevant utility companies to set dates for the provision of their services up to their terminating points.


See our separate article for news on how the Share Offer, in support of the Bridgnorth Development project, is progressing.




Questions about the Share Offer? The answers are now online

As the 2016 Share Offer enters its final three months, and hovers tantalisingly close to the £1.5 million mark, the Railway has developed a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ page on its website. This comes in response to queries from people interested in buying shares, and is written by volunteers involved with the Bridgnorth Development.

Tony Bending is one of the team marketing the share offer, and explains why they decided to compile the FAQs:

“We have received almost 3,000 web enquiries which is very encouraging, and 20 per cent have already converted to share sales. Along with our existing shareholders and members these have helped to take our current fundraising tally to just under £1,500,000, which will enable us to complete the new refreshment room and refurbish the existing station building.

“We would, however, really like to achieve our target of £2,500,000 so that the second phase of the Bridgnorth project, including the installation of a turntable, can become a reality.

“The Share Offer must close on 31st October and it’s apparent that some potential purchasers want to know more before they buy, so we’ve created a list of questions and answers on our website for all to see. And, of course, we are more than happy for anyone to call us on 01562 757900 should they wish.” Follow this link to the Bridgnorth Share Offer page: where the FAQs are hosted. The answers will be expanded over the coming weeks as required if other questions are raised by potential shareholders.

Grant funding boost for the Heritage Skills Training Academy

There’s been great news recently for the Heritage Skills Training Academy, and for one apprentice in particular. The Charitable Trust has secured a generous donation of £9,500 from the Hendy and Pendle Charitable Trust towards the costs of training 19-year-old George Brogan.

Sir Peter Hendy CBE, who founded the Hendy and Pendle Charitable Trust, said he and his fellow trustee Sue Pendle are extremely enthusiastic about this opportunity to get involved with the Railway:

“The SVR’s scheme fits very well within our Trust’s remit. As well as regular progress reports from the Academy, we get opportunities to visit the Railway and see for ourselves how the apprentices are getting on.”

Just such an occasion happened recently, when Sir Peter came to Kidderminster as part of a wider visit to the SVR. He spent time chatting to George, who is coming to the end of his second year of apprenticeship and is currently on placement at C&W Mechanical. As the chairman of Network Rail, Sir Peter took great interest in the detail of the training programme that George and his fellow apprentices are undergoing, as George himself explains:

“Sir Peter had lots of questions about my training, and said it’s important to invest in apprentices, so that heritage rail has a future. It’s good to know that as well as the SVR supporting my training, there’s an extra seal of approval from an outside organisation too.”

(Photo by Bob Sweet)

‘Peep’ pulls in the punters

Hundreds of visitors got the chance to get up close to many of the restoration projects currently underway at the Railway on Saturday 15th July, at the annual ‘Peep Behind the Scenes’ event. There were opportunities to see rolling stock restoration projects at Kidderminster, Bewdley and Bridgnorth, and to see inside various signal boxes. Not to mention the sight of a goods train hauled by 813!

This year, proceeds from the sale of entry wristbands went to the Charitable Trust, raising well over £2,500. Many visitors also made donations directly to individual projects on the day. The Trust’s Shelagh Paterson was very pleased with how things went:

“The ‘Peep’ event was a great event all round, and on behalf of the Charitable Trust, I would like to thank the many volunteers who were involved in putting on such an exciting day for visitors. Not only did hundreds of people gain a fascinating insight into the skill and dedication that are needed to keep the SVR rolling, but we’ve also raised a significant amount of money that will go towards projects at the Railway.”

Social media during the event was buzzing, and here’s a flavour of some of the reviews left by visitors: “very hands on”, “very knowledgeable and friendly staff”, “thank you for a very warm welcome”, “an excellent day out.”


Afternoon Tea Specials - Go on treat yourself!

For a special price of £22.20 + a train ticket

There are still spaces for the Afternoon Tea Specials departing Bridgnorth at 4.05pm on Wednesday 13th & Thursday 14th September.  Please note you would need to start your journey in Kidderminster, as there is no return service to Bridgnorth.

What could be better than gazing at the English countryside aboard our newly-restored restaurant car coach hauled by a steam locomotive whilst enjoying an English Afternoon Tea?English Afternoon Tea Specials include a reception drink of sparkling wine, followed by finger sandwiches, handmade fruit scones with clotted cream and jam, and a selection of cakes and pastries. All for £22.20 + a train ticket.

Steam on the Road event Sat 12th and Sun 13th August


There have been dozens of traction engines visiting the SVR over the years, but next weekend we’ll also be hosting a number of road steam vehicles at Kidderminster for our Steam on the Road event.


There’ll be a traction engine ‘play pen’ in the car park and up to 10 full-size and two miniature engines on display and in operation.

Highlights include a Saturday road run through Kidderminster, culminating with a climb up the hill to the station, the ‘Plimsoll’, a Land Rover that operates on the road AND on the rails, a Land Rover Series 1 gathering at Highley on the Saturday, and Sunday brakes van rides at Kidderminster between 10.30 and 4.30 for a donation.

B12 heading back to the Valley!

We're thrilled to announce our headline act for our Spring Steam Gala in 2018!
Returning after its last visit 20 years ago, LNER B12 No. 8572 will star at the event from March 16th - 18th, alongside a number of other visiting and home-fleet engines. 

Built in 1928, the majestic 'Wandering 1500' in striking Apple Green livery will be paired with our beautiful rake of LNER Teak carriages for the event, and makes a rare appearance away from its North Norfolk Railway home. 
Unique in being the only British inside cylinder 4-6-0 to be preserved, No. 8572 last visited us in September & October 1998, starring in the Autumn Steam Gala of that year, once again paired with the Teaks. 
Plans are afoot for a further two visiting engines to join No. 8572 at the event, which is also set to star British Railways Standard 4 No. 75069, which is due to return to service later this year following overhaul. 
We're sure you're as excited for the event as we are, and you'll be putting this date in your diary!

Ever wondered why canvas roofs are painted white?

Volunteers and staff at Kidderminster Carriage & Wagon finished off the last of four coats of paint this week on the canvas roof of 24105. It’s all part of an ongoing major overhaul programme for the Gresley-designed teak carriage, as paint shop supervisor (and Charitable Trust chairman) Hugh McQuade explains:

“We use bitumen paint rather than gloss because it can stretch and shrink with the frequent British temperature changes. Traditionally, the LNER would have used white lead paint. The white colour shows up any nicks or cracks, making them easier to detect and monitor.

“People often ask why white paint is used, when something like grey would hide the inevitable dirt rather better. In fact, the Great Western Railway used red paint until the early 1900s, and then switched to white like everyone else. I suspect that using white was more of an image thing than anything else. LNER would have been keen to outdo rival railway companies, with the smartest presentation for coaches that they could muster!”

Whilst the roof canvas itself should last for up to 40 years, C&W will apply a fresh coat of white paint to each of the Gresley carriage roofs once every five years.

LNER Gresley Tourist Open Third (TTO) No 24105 is owned by the SVR Charitable Trust and is one of the Railway’s fleet of wheelchair-accessible coaches.

Photograph; Apprentice Emma Harrison and Paul Brunet, who is on work experience from his engineering company in France, painting 24105

by Richard Herington

Craftsmanship set in stone at Bewdley


Stonemason Philip Chatfield is making good progress with the renovation work at Bewdley, as this photograph from Assistant Station Master Dai Phillips shows.


Philip has carried out extensive work to the front bay of the Signals & Telecoms building, after which the window itself has been fitted. He’s also replaced the sills below the front booking office windows, and will continue replacing further worn stonework where necessary.

Family Summer Saver

£44 for a whole day out for 2 adults and up to 4 children!

On 10th July we will be launching our fantastic Family Summer Saver offer which will be running throughout the school holidays (July 22nd until September 3rd 2017).


Commenting Clare Gibbard, Marketing & Communications Manager said "The decision to launch an offer comes after a very successful summer season last year when the family ticket deal proved incredibly popular and had a positive impact on passenger numbers. The Railway carried 29,853 passengers in August 2016 which represented a 13% increase on 2015 and 16.5% on 2014 respectively, with sales of the Family Summer Saver ticket totalling 3480"


The offer entitles 2 adults or seniors and up to 4 children to travel on one day over the summer holidays at the discounted price of £44 (‘Freedom of the Line’ conditions apply) – a significant saving over the normal £55.50 family fare.


Family Summer Saver tickets can be purchased in advance online, over the phone, at the ticket desk at Comberton Place or on the day of visit from Booking Offices and TTIs – maximising the sales opportunity for these tickets and keeping things simple for visitors.


Please help us spread the word by liking and sharing our posts and adverts on Facebook if you can!


Full details of the Family Summer Saver offer and the terms and conditions can be viewed on the website. See

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.

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