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December 2018

On the 18th Nov 2018 2857 is seen between Bewdley and Kidderminster, by Ian Murray

Welcome to your latest edition of Branch Lines!


Welcome to Branch Lines, the e-newsletter for SVR members, shareholders and supporters. Each month we send an email reminder to let you know that the latest edition is ready to view at . Branch Lines is where you’ll find out what’s been happening at your favourite heritage railway and you’ll also learn about plans for the future, and about the dedication that goes into making the SVR the wonderful place we all know and love. 

As another year draws to a close we reflect on another smashing year steaming through the Severn Valley, we would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for reading and supporting the SVR - it really is appreciated.

If you have friends or family with an interest in the SVR, please let them know that they too can sign up to Branch Lines. All they need to do is drop us a line at and let us know they’d like to receive email reminders once the latest monthly edition is available.   


We’d love to hear your SVR-related news and views. Whether you’re on the other side of the world (as a number of our readers are) or you’re just down the road from one of our stations, please do get in touch with us at 


Simon Turner & Lesley Carr, Co-Editors 


Picture by Ian Murray


SVR about to receive keys for Bridgnorth Refreshment Room 

Iris Construction is working through a small snagging list at the Bridgnorth Refreshment Room and toilet building and it’s expected they will soon hand over the keys to the Railway. All the contractors’ cabins and remaining materials will be removed from the site next week.  

General manager Nick Ralls is delighted with the finished product: 

“This is a fine recreation of a 1910 station building extension with the highest attention paid to detail and finish throughout, and it is a credit to all concerned. In conjunction with the car park improvements, this building will transform the visitor experience at Bridgnorth.  

“Once we are able to freely access the building, the priority will be to open the toilets up to the public as soon as possible to replace the existing facilities. There will then follow a period of setting up the interior with items such as tables, chairs, curtains, fire irons and other essential items in order to make ready for public use. The kitchen staff will also require training on the new equipment and plant.  

“The intention is to fully open the Refreshment Rooms for the February 2019 half term week but it is anticipated that there will be a ‘soft’ opening before then in order to shake down the equipment and ensure its smooth operation when launched.  

“We will be organising a grand opening with invited guests and shareholders as detailed in the 2016 Share Offer document. Further details will be made available in the New Year.”

New look timetable for 2019 

With a new year just around the corner, you might have noticed the new look 2019 Timetable leaflet is now out and in the racks, and you may have spotted a number of changes to previous editions. Lewis Maddox of the marketing department explains more: 

“The timetable is very often our first interaction with a potential customer. We therefore set a brief to keep the content and format as simple as possible and provide information in an easy to understand format, with plain and straightforward content. We wanted to promote the Railway as a whole day out and in particular our Freedom of the Line tickets.  

“We have left out a lot of detail from previous timetables, as we will be introducing an ‘on the day’ handout. This will give passengers further details of what they can do when they are with us, how they can support the Railway and why they really need to make a return visit!  

“In addition, you’ll shortly see an Events & Experiences leaflet, providing details on things we do that add a little bit more to the customer’s SVR experience.” 

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6990 Witherslack Hall joins Op Santa cre

Witherslack Hall joins Operation Santa at the SVR 

Months of planning and weeks of preparation have come together as the Railway enters its Santa season. We’re expecting in excess of 35,000 visitors this month for the Santa Steam Specials, Carol Trains, Christmas Cracker Expresses and the extra-special, Christmas Eve Santa Sleigh Express, which sold out within two weeks. 

 The SVR fleet will be joined this year by a Christmas visitor, the ex-WR Modified Hall No 6990 ‘Witherslack Hall’, with thanks to Great Central Railway Plc and the David Clarke Railway Trust. This engine made its debut on the SVR back in spring 2016, and will be a very welcome return guest. 6990 will return to the Great Central Railway in early January. 

More than 35,000 people are expected to visit the Railway during the coming month. Pulling off such a fantastic and packed Santa season is no mean feat; there are more than 100 train services to run in December, not to mention half a tonne of chestnuts to roast, and 23km of fairy lights in place at Kidderminster, Arley and Bewdley Stations.  

Overseeing proceedings for the 23rd year is Diane Malyon from Bridgnorth, affectionately known on the Railway as ‘Mrs Christmas’. She paid tribute to the working members who make it all happen: 

“Our busiest time of year is a huge logistical operation, involving teams from all across the Railway, who do everything from roasting chestnuts to looking after buggies. Though hundreds of man-hours are clocked up by our volunteers each Christmas, they all do it because they love it. 

“This year, Christmas Eve at the SVR will be extra-special, with our Santa Sleigh Express services running all day, and I am sure that, as the sun sets and the last service of the day steams out of Kidderminster, hauling carriages full of smiling faces, we’ll know that all the hard work has been worth it.” 

Photo credit: Neil Cave 




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Christmas gift ideas at Arley 

Head along to the Arley station fund shop where you’ll discover a range of goods on sale that could solve some of your Christmas present dilemmas. 

Liz Kempton, a member of the shop team is a gifted knitter and she’s created a collection of hand made gloves , beanies, wrist warmers and mittens.  

Christmas cards featuring the station are on special offer for £1 each, or six for £4.50. 

Plus there are several BR jackets, coats and trousers on sale. The shop is open every weekend in December.

Blow away those Christmas cobwebs at the SVR! 

There’s still chance to enjoy the delights of the SVR before we close for our annual maintenance period in January and February, and there’s surely no better way to extend your seasonal festivities.  

Running from Boxing Day to January 6th, our Festive Season Services are the perfect opportunity to blow away the cobwebs and shake-off the frenzy of Christmas wrapping, present-buying and cooking with a refreshing train journey through the beautiful Severn Valley countryside. 

New for this year, is our Twelve Days of Christmas list – a selection of tips, ideas and suggestions on how to enjoy your day out on the Railway. Among them are sampling the selection of cakes at The Engine House Café, taking an exhilarating walk along the Severn Way or brushing-up on your history at Kidderminster Railway Museum. All suggestions can be found on 

You can book in advance or purchase tickets on the day for the Festive Season Services. More details at or phone 01562 757900. 

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The perfect Christmas present for someone who cares about the SVR 

Forget the socks, the chocolates or the dodgy aftershave, and make someone really happy by adding their name to the Falling Sands donation wall.  

For just £50 you can add a name (even your own, if you feel like spoiling yourself this year!) You’ll be helping to save the SVR’s Falling Sands Viaduct, an essential part of the Railway’s infrastructure that links Kidderminster to the rest of the line, and which is in urgent need of repair. 

The SVR is raising £397,000 towards the cost, and recently submitted a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for a further £1 million. 

The donation wall will be specially created and installed at The Engine House, Highley during the 2019 running season. Sign up online at or phone 01562 757940. 

Thousands of people have already signed up and added names as testament to their determination to save the viaduct – will you join them?

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Exciting winter menu for Bewdley Trackside Buffet 

Last weekend saw the introduction of a new range of delicious offerings at the Trackside Buffet at Bewdley. 

The new range has come about as the result of working with the catering team on how best to provide a focused menu for the buffet during the winter months, as Engine House manager Nicky Vale explains: 

“We had to take into consideration our current equipment, facilities and storage space. We are committed to supporting a delicious hot food offering that we can realistically deliver exceptional standards and service on.  

“Bewdley is well known for its fabulous breakfasts, so it is with this in mind that we will be offering hearty all-day breakfast menu options, along with light bites and some exciting new festive hot drinks such as Black Forest hot chocolate and gingerbread latte. You’ll also want to try our new SVR breakfast muffins and hash browns, great for on-the-go.” 

SVR thanks National Lottery players for their support  


Next Thursday, 6th December, a group of National Lottery players will have the rare opportunity for a behind-the-scenes tour of the Carriage Works at Kidderminster. People had to book in advance as numbers were limited, and the tour very quickly filled up with eager enthusiasts, who’d spotted the opportunity on social media or in the local press. 


The Charitable Trust has organised the event, as a way of thanking National Lottery players. The SVR has benefitted from National Lottery Funding for a number of projects. In recent years the Heritage Lottery Fund, which is entirely funded by the National Lottery, awarded the Trust £500,000 for its endowment fund, and £95,000 towards the restoration of Hagley Hall. The Trust has recently submitted a bid for £1 million for the restoration of Falling Sands Viaduct, and is expecting a decision from the HLF on this by spring 2019. 


 ‘Thanks To You’ week is a national event, and the Railway is one of hundreds of participating venues. Its aim is to say ‘thank you’ to people who have raised money for good causes by buying a lottery ticket or scratch card.  


If you’re a National Lottery player and would like to benefit from a free offer at one of the other participating venues, you’ll find full details here 

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Bewdley station improvements.jpg

Bewdley station improvements 


Assistant stationmaster Dai Phillips writes with this update: 

Although the past year’s focus has been about other parts of the Railway, we’ve not been idle at Bewdley, and several projects have been completed or are under way. For those who haven’t visited recently, we thought a few words and photographs would let you know what’s been going on away from the platforms. 


You’ll probably know that the main part of the buffet building was demolished. The present arrangements see the old kitchen retained plus toilets, with a coach in the dock as the place to sit down and eat. Out front we have two containers; one is a buffet store and the other is a meeting room, primarily for driving courses. 


The old bungalow, or parties office, now serves as a mess room for station staff, plus booking office, plus S & T department. We have a room for staff to access a computer, also used by Alan Coley in connection with his role in the guards department. We have a small room which serves as a duty officer's room. A door to the platform 1 was recently installed to allow staff to access the platform quickly. 


At the front of the building, it was necessary to knock down the extension built a while back as it was coming away from the wall and could not be re-attached. This has now been rebuilt, and the old porters / messroom on the platform has been knocked through to give a larger building. This will be used to store the many items which need to be kept for special events throughout the year. 


On top of all that, we have kept the station in good repair; that’s not always easy with something that opened in 1862!  And we look after the upkeep of Northwood Halt. 


Spaces available to join the SVR’s 200 Club 

Do you like raising money for volunteer projects? Do you like the idea of winning prizes? If the answer to these questions is “yes”, then the 200 Club could be for you, and the good news is that there are some vacancies to join! 

Colin Clark has been running the 200 Club on behalf of the Severn Valley Railway since 1991. Over more than quarter of a century, its membership has grown and the money it has raised has helped fund many volunteer projects around the Railway, whilst also giving its members the chance of winning one of the five monthly prizes.  

As a member of the 200 Club you pay £2 per month, and every month you have the chance of winning £75, £50, £25 or one of two £10 prizes. At Christmas, there’s an enhanced draw at Christmas when you can win even more.  

All monies, after the prize payouts, are reinvested towards volunteer projects across the Railway. 

If you are interested in joining the 200 Club please contact Colin on 01384 397395 or at 7 Enville Place, Stourbridge, DY8 1XT. 

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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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