43106 crosses Borle viaduct on 28th November. Credit photo Bob Green
Welcome to December Branch Lines
Well, judging by the amount of fairy lights and tinsel currently adorning the Severn Valley Railway, Christmas has well and truly arrived! Our seasonal services began on 19th November with Steam in Lights at Bridgnorth, and we’re now fully into the swing of things with the Enchanted Express (also departing from Bridgnorth), as well as the Santa and Carol Trains, departing from Kidderminster.
It’s a very busy and important time of year for the SVR, and if you’ve not yet booked to travel, we hope you’ll be tempted by one of the Christmas offerings, or indeed by the post-Christmas Festive services. We’re receiving excellent feedback on TripAdvisor and although many services are sold out, there’s occasionally some last-minute availability due to cancellations.
The SVR Charitable Trust has had a busy month, and we bring you the latest on the Home & Dry appeal, grants success for the Heritage Apprentice Scheme and well-deserved recognition from the National Railway Heritage awards for the Falling Sands project.
Do you remember the BBC drama The Signalman, which was shot entirely on location at the SVR and first transmitted in 1976? It’s the subject of a lookback article in Steam Railway this month, whose editor visited the Railway to meet some of those who took part. There’s so much more to read in December’s edition of Branch Lines, including restoration updates and a report on a significant milestone for the 82045 new-build project.
The whole Branch Lines team wishes you a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year, and we hope to see you on the SVR during the final weeks of the 2021 season – or perhaps in spring next year, when services restart on 2nd April. Here’s to 2022!
Lesley Carr & Patrick Hearn, co-editors
The Branch Lines team is Lesley Carr, Patrick Hearn, Amy Baker and Nicola Fox
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Christmas services in full swing
The SVR’s Steam in Lights, Enchanted Express, Santa Trains and Carol Trains are now well under way with Christmas services continuing on dates up to and including 24th December.
Ticket sales remain strong, helped in part by marketing through local radio interviews about the Carol trains, and some amazing short promo YouTube videos on social media that explain how fantastic Steam in Lights is, with vox pops to help push those remaining tickets. Take a look at one of our promo videos here.
Some tickets remain, so do come and enjoy the season with us! The best availability as we go to press as follows:
Steam in Lights: some tables available on 9th, 10th, 16th, 17th December, but Saturday 11th is sold out. Limited availability during Christmas week (20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd December).
Santa Trains: tables available on Tuesday 21st and Wednesday 22nd December.
Carol Trains: compartments available tomorrow, Friday 10th December, otherwise sold out.
There’s been some fantastic feedback on Facebook and TripAdvisor. “The trains were magical in all their glory," said one reviewer of the Santa Trains. "Steam billowing into the air. Very nostalgic for me as I have a lot of precious memories on the railway as a child when my Grandad volunteered at Bewdley station.” A Steam in Lights visitor commented, “How did you manage to light up the scenery along the route so beautifully and then little surprises as well…it exceeded our expectations!”
Coming your way is a festive special of Britain's Scenic Railways, with transmission on Boxing Day, 26th December, at 6pm on Channel 4. This was filmed last month around Steam in Lights preparation and delivery. Thanks to everyone who participated in this, at very short notice.
Head of visitor experience Michael Dunn told Branch Lines "Across the Railway people are working outside of their usual hours and many away from their usual roles. I know from chatting with passengers as they are leaving that everyone has had an amazing time. These events are now getting even busier in the lead up to the big day!"
Managing director Helen Smith added: "I want to thank all our visitors and supporters, and everyone across the Railway for their efforts on delivering our seasonal programme. The directors, management team and I all experience the hard work involved as we support the various Christmas services in on-train and hands-on roles.”
New government guidance and how it affects the SVR
Managing director Helen Smith has issued reassurances that the SVR’s Christmas services are able to go ahead, in line with new government guidelines.
“When we planned our events,” she explained, “we prepared for the probability that restrictions would be reintroduced, so the consequences of the new measures are minimal.
“Face coverings are once again mandatory for visitors and staff in SVR shops, train corridors and open carriage sets. The Railway is strongly recommending face coverings in other shared indoor or enclosed spaces, such as offices, bars, restaurants, booking offices, toilets, as well as the marquee at Arley (Santa Trains) and The Engine House, Highley (Carol Trains.)
“The events we are running at all our sites are for less than 500 people per train and therefore visitors will not be expected to provide the NHS Covid Pass as a condition of entry. Thank you for looking after yourself and others during your next visit to the Severn Valley Railway.”
Head elf Ben Wright complete with face covering. Dan Shorthouse
We’re almost Home & Dry
The SVR is very nearly ‘Home & Dry’ with the SVR Charitable Trust’s fundraising appeal to improve the conditions at Bridgnorth Locomotive Works.
Loretta Milan, communications manager at the Charitable Trust, told Branch Lines, “Thanks to all our generous supporters, the appeal has now raised almost £460,000 of the £475,000 necessary to complete the full project.
“The funds raised so far have enabled the Railway to place a 20% deposit on the second-hand, 6.3-tonne capacity travelling crane - described in November's Branch Lines – and the Charitable Trust is confident that, with the further support of our generous donors, it will be able to fully fund the project.
“Could you help us ensure the crane can be installed? Please donate at https://www.svrtrust.org.uk/home-and-dry-donation. Thank you.”
Personnel from AG Cranes visited the loco shed on 9th December to measure up for fitting the second-hand crane. Antony Bartlam
New user-friendly website has a fresh look
The SVR has a brand-new customer-facing website at www.svr.co.uk. The look is fresh, simple and clean, the navigation is vastly improved and it’s compatible across smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.
“The new site is aimed at making it much easier for visitors to find out what’s on at the Railway,” said Lesley Carr, head of marketing and communications. “We’ve simplified the information to make it less ‘wordy’ and made the most of some of the wonderful photographs that have been taken of the Railway, which is a stunning visual asset. Very importantly, it’s about driving ticket sales with a quicker booking system.
“The new site is the result of a great deal of behind-the-scenes work and research by marketing manager Dan Shorthouse and IT manager Bill Griffiths, who’ve worked with our new web developers to create it.
“The site will continue to evolve, and we’ve ensured it will be able to integrate with the new SVR-wide customer relationship management (CRM) system that the Railway will introduce next year. The CRM will help us engage and communicate with visitors and supporters in a much more meaningful and productive way, streamlining our data bases, cutting down on duplicate mailings, and making sure that we are letting people know about what they’re interested in, at the right time.”
Black Friday SVR membership offer
On Black Friday, the SVR announced a special membership deal that runs throughout December, applies to new memberships and renewals taken out during this month and includes a £10 voucher.
Membership starts from as little as £22 a year, and unlocks an exclusive package of benefits and discounts, whilst enabling holders to receive the quarterly magazine SVR News, and the opportunity to get even more closely involved as a volunteer at the Railway.
“This is a superb opportunity for anyone who’s thinking of becoming an SVR member, or for those who wish to renew their membership,” said Diane Malyon, chairman of the SVR Company Limited, which looks after SVR members.
“You’ll receive a £10 voucher (redeemable in our retail outlets and refreshment rooms) plus 33% discount on all regular services and at some special events such as our steam and diesel galas and the Step Back to the 1940s events, as well as 10% off in refreshment rooms and retail stores. You’ll also get the expertly-curated quarterly magazine SVR News, and the chance to go behind the scenes during our annual Open Weekend.”
The Railway has confirmed that it will be ceasing the current Loyalty Pass scheme at the end of this year, and encouraging pass holders to become members instead.
An annual membership would make the ideal Christmas present for anyone who loves the SVR. Becoming an SVR member is simple and quick at www.svr.co.uk
Hagley Hall’s new livery revealed
The long and painstaking work to restore 4930 Hagley Hall is now advancing to the final stages, including finishing the tender’s top-coat, lining, and varnishing.
“Hagley Hall’s tender now wears the GWR ‘shirt button’ livery with pride,” explained the SVR Charitable Trust’s communications manager Loretta Milan. “This livery was selected firstly because it was the finish that the loco famously carried during the Great Western 150th anniversary events in 1985, and secondly as it’s believed that it’s not currently carried by any other loco in Britain.”
The ‘shirt button’ features a simple GWR emblem on the tender. The paintwork may seem simple but it is technically one of the most challenging liveries, as there is a lot of additional lining on the loco and tender frames, steps, buffer beam and even the brake gear.
Loretta added, “Thanks go to painter Ronan O'Brien as well as Andy Darby, Andy Williams, Dave Giddins, David Dillistone, Bernard Green, Steve Jones, Paul White and everyone else who has assisted so far.”
Shelagh Paterson, the Charitable Trust’s executive director, said: “It is wonderful to see Hagley Hall so close to being fully restored thanks to generous donations made by long-standing working members, along with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.”
Discover the difference that making a gift in your will could make to the Railway at https://www.svrtrust.org.uk/Gifts-in-Wills.
Click on the gallery for full screen images, descriptions and credits
Falling Sands Viaduct receives prestigious recognition
The Falling Sands Viaduct restoration project has been highly commended in the final of National Railway Heritage Awards which took place on 1st December.
The comprehensive project successfully restored the viaduct both operationally and visually, with missing corbelling courses and end piers reinstated.
This year, there were a record number of entries and particularly tough competition from a wide range of entrants including community groups, local councils, commercial undertakings, national transport undertakings and heritage lines like the Severn Valley Railway.
The restoration of the seven-arched Falling Sands Viaduct was commended by judges of the Costain Structures Award for demonstrating “both ingenuity and the value of positive team working with client, professional, contractors and volunteers all contributing to a very successful outcome.”
Thanks are due to Nick Yarwood, Chris Bond, Jonathan Symonds, Walsh Construction, CAN and all the volunteers who worked on the project, as well as the National Lottery Heritage Fund and everyone who donated to make the project possible.
Photo: from left to right are: Andy Savage MBE, Acting Chair. National Railway Heritage Awards; Shelagh Paterson, executive director, SVRCT; and Nick Yarwood, SVR volunteer. Credit: Duncan Phillips Photography
Grants secured for the Heritage Apprenticeship Scheme
In a particularly challenging year, the SVR Charitable Trust (SVRCT) has exceeded its target for grants to support the Heritage Apprenticeship Scheme.
Apprentices are an important part of the Railway as they will be vital to carrying rare, specialist skills into the next generation. Managing, supporting and training an apprentice costs £21,000 per year. This cost is covered by the SVRCT with, typically, grant makers and generous supporters each covering around half the costs.
The SVRCT’s communications manager Loretta Milan told Branch Lines: “The Charitable Trust committed to raising £100,000 for the Scheme by the end of 2021, to fund up to five apprentices.
"The target for grants has been exceeded this year with £62,300 committed by a number of trusts, with further applications pending decisions and commitments already made for the future.
"This has been a great result, achieved during a particularly challenging year during which many existing grant givers have been focusing on charities that deliver on-the-ground services, directly supporting the pandemic. Therefore, it has been essential to build new relationships and a number of new grant givers supported the Scheme this year.”
Shelagh Paterson, executive director of the SVRCT, said: “The Trust is very grateful for all the donations that help provide essential training and development for apprentices, who will be an important part of the Railway’s future.”
During the four-year Heritage Apprenticeship Scheme, young people learn by working under the supervision of experienced professionals across a number of departments including locomotive running, boiler shop, carriage mechanical, and carriage bodywork. As well as intensive on-the-job training, apprentices work towards nationally-recognised NVQ 2 and 3 level qualifications at college. You can read more about the Scheme, and how to support it, at https://www.svrtrust.org.uk/Apprentice-training.
Photo: GWR 1086. Apprentice Jacob Cox and volunteer Paul Bill repairing one of the footsteps in June 2021. Credit: Alan Brookes
Podcast goes behind the scenes at the Autumn Diesel Gala
You can step behind the scenes of the SVR’s recent diesel enthusiast event in a Two Voices Radio Podcast special, From heritage to the future. In the podcast you’ll meet some of the people involved, in the company of its hosts Andy Waterfield and Nick Benjamin.
There’s insight from Gus Dunster, chairman of the SVR diesels committee, and Lesley Carr who talks more generally about how the Railway has weathered the impact of the pandemic. Plus, there’s Roland Bull in the Diesel Depot, and Jack Baldwin and Peter Amor working on the Harrier Hydroshunter conversion of a Class 08 shunter to run on hydrogen power.
They also catch up with Kayleigh Armishaw of the Kidderminster station staff team, and Neil Carter and Keith Bullock who talk about repainting Class 42 D821 Greyhound.
The podcast is free to listen to, and running time is around 58 minutes. You can access it at https://www.spreaker.com/user/twovoicesradio/svr-podcast-special
Photo: A bonus diesels picture this month is 50007 Hercules and 50049 Defiance running through Barnt Green with Pathfinder tours' ‘Christmas White Rose’ from Cardiff to Newcastle on 4th December 2021. David Bissett
Lighting the way to Christmas
SVR volunteer Nick Wright is once again tripping the light fantastic with a spectacular Christmas display outside his Stourport home.
Nick has designed the light show using 23,443 individual bulbs – he’s counted every single one! It’s accompanied by music and the full cycle of the show lasts well over an hour.
The show takes place outside Nick’s house on Malham Road, DY13 8NN between 5.00 and 9.00 every evening until 1st January. Nick’s asking for donations to the SVR Charitable Trust at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/svr-hope or via the onsite donations milk churn.
See our video link for a flavour of what’s in store!
Crowd-sourcing the SVR’s detective skills
A smashing photograph was shared on Facebook by SVR supporter David Adams of a two-carriage passenger service at Bridgnorth on a cloudy Saturday, 28th July 1962, just over a year before closure to passengers.
“I was looking through some slides and came across this beauty,” David told Branch Lines. “But only the date and locomotive are noted on the mount.” Cue the Facebook investigations!
Here’s what we know, and what we can speculate: the train is heading north, but from the southbound platform 1. The 1962 timetable shows morning and evening Saturday services from Shrewsbury to Bridgnorth at 9.50 am and 5.32 pm, returning from Bridgnorth 11.35 and 7.27. It seems the loco has run round in platform 1. Does the short shadow on platform 2 indicate this was the 11.35 am to Shrewsbury?
The carriage nearer the camera is W6116W, which was a GWR Collett 60 ft corridor composite, built in 1937. The collective wisdom of the SVR supporters suggests the front coach is a WR Hawksworth brake third.
The locomotive is identified on the slide mount as BR standard ‘4’ tank 80099. This had moved from Stratford to 87D Swansea East Dock only on 15th July, so was a newcomer to the Severn Valley branch. One can speculate it had travelled up the Central Wales line and had been ‘borrowed’ at Shrewsbury. Standard 4 tanks from Swansea, Shrewsbury and Croes Newydd (Wrexham) sheds operated on the Valley in 1962 and 1963. One is SVR-preserved 80079, photographed on that same 7.27 pm Saturday train, later that summer.
Who knew so much information could come from one forgotten slide?
Could the SVR re-stage this image one day? Almost! Sister locomotive 80079 is warm and dry in The Engine House, awaiting its turn for overhaul. The Great Western (Severn Valley Railway) Association owns two similar coaches: Collett corridor composite 6045 (albeit to a different diagram) is recently restored, and Hawksworth brake third W2242 - though neither is painted in BR Maroon!
Photo: 80999 at Bridgnorth 28th July 1962. Copyright David Adams and used with permission.
Quick thinking and collaboration save the day at MPD
The best laid plans often go awry, but with some quick thinking and collaboration, solutions can always be found, as Bridgnorth volunteer shed master Martin White reports:
Suddenly it’s Christmas and the steam locos are at full stretch! 813 left the Railway on 18th November having gone off to assist Telford Steam Railway with their Christmas operations, and 2857 remains in the works undergoing its valve & piston examination. This leaves very little spare capacity in the steam fleet.
The original roster had 75069 at Bridgnorth on the Steam in Lights (SiL) turns on evenings from Tuesday to Saturday and also on the day time Enchanted Express service at weekends. Working off Bewdley MPD for the Kidderminster Santa services were 34027 ‘Taw Valley’, 43106 and 1501.
However, during early runs of SiL, 75069 suffered a hot bearing on a coupling rod, resulting in 34027 having to stand in whilst the bearing was re-metaled and machined. The following weekend was 43106’s turn to present a problem, this time with the regulator. Occurring towards the end of the first Sunday of Santa operations, on 28th November, an attempt was made by Engineering Services staff to resolve the problem at Bewdley the following day. However, the issue was discovered to be significant enough to necessitate the loco visiting the works at Bridgnorth.
Fortunately, infrastructure works later in the week meant that operational arrangements were already in place to use the release token working method. Therefore, despite the signal boxes being unmanned, 43106 could be moved cautiously under its own steam back to Bridgnorth. This approved method, covered within the rule book, allows limited, strictly controlled movements to be made along the line without signal boxes being manned.
Once back at Bridgnorth, the dome cover was removed from the boiler to enable the regulator valve to be stripped for closer examination. The valve faces were found to be badly worn, which would require the valve itself to be removed for machining. This would not be a quick repair and hence arrangements had to be made to move the spare locomotive, pannier tank 7714, from Bridgnorth to Bewdley for the next weekend of Santa services. As the engineering works were now occupying the line during the midweek daytime, a quick meeting between engineering and operations staff identified a suitable path for a light engine movement on Friday evening, 3rd December. Duly, in between the Bridgnorth SiL departures, 7714 left Bridgnorth for Bewdley. With a carol train running from Kidderminster to Highley, the signal boxes were open, allowing the loco to be moved using normal token working.
Meanwhile in the works, progress continues on the overhauls of 13268 and 4930 (see separate article on Hagley Hall’s new livery), along with the restoration of 4150 and the construction of 82045. And by the time you read this, 82045, the new build BR standard class 3, will have become a 2-6-2 configuration for the first time as the fitting of the pony trucks is imminent (see separate article on 82045.)
Click on the gallery for full screen images, descriptions and credits
It’s the ‘transfer season’ for 5164
Built at Swindon in 1930, 5164 is the oldest surviving member of the Great Western 5101 class and served 33 years on the national network, racking up 811,367 miles; some of those on trains to Kidderminster and along SVR metals.
One of 10 Large Prairies in Dai Woodham’s yard in Barry, 5164 was rescued for preservation and moved to Bewdley in 1973.
First steamed on the SVR in 1979, 5164 ran until 1984 when it was withdrawn for a heavy overhaul, returning to service in 2004. Ten years later and out of ticket, the large prairie was withdrawn for overhaul and removed to Barrow Hill Roundhouse Railway Centre, where it serves as a static exhibit, whilst sheltering from the elements. 5164 has now been in private ownership for 15 years longer than it saw active service on the main line!
In July 2020, The 5164 Preservation Group, which owned the loco, announced it was in discussions with the SVR and the Erlestoke Manor Fund (EMF) about 5164’s future.
With its small number of shareholders continuing to diminish, the group wished to secure the future of 5164 by transferring it the EMF for a nominal sum.
Transferral of ownership was completed in November 2021, and 5164 now adds variety to the EMF fleet, which previously consisted of 7802 Bradley Manor and 7812 Erlestoke Manor. Adrian Hassell, the new chair of the EMF, said:
“With the return to service of 7812 now imminent, fundraising and planning for a future overhaul of 5164 can commence in the new year. The importance of a third active locomotive in the EMF fleet is clear, providing greater resilience in the event of unexpected major failures.
“Also, overhauling 5164 during the mid-2020s period will provide an income stream in the early 2030s period when 7802 and 7812’s 10-yearly overhauls are now likely to partially overlap.”
For the time being, 5164 will remain at Barrow Hill Roundhouse, but the transfer of ownership ultimately secures the locomotive’s future as a long-term resident of the SVR.
Click on the gallery for full screen images, descriptions and credits
V1 December 2021
Shareholder benefits review group
At the SVR (Holdings) Plc AGM in September, outgoing chairman Nick Paul agreed to set up a group to review the shareholder benefits system, and interested shareholders were invited to put themselves forward to join the group.
Plans are now moving forward. More than 50 shareholders have expressed interest in joining the group and the Railway has appointed Jonathan Durnin as an independent facilitator.
“We’ve been delighted by the very positive response to setting up the review group,” said Helen Smith, managing director. “It’s fantastic that so many people have stepped forward to take part. We’re working with Jonathan to make sure we make the most of this important opportunity. He is a highly experienced analyst and project manager who specialises in research reviews and evaluations. He’s planning to start the review process in earnest after the Christmas break, and is considering a survey of all shareholders, together with both in-person and online workshops with members of the review group.”
The review group will present its findings before the next SVR(H) AGM, which is scheduled for June next year.
Photo: 75069 with the Steam in Lights test train on 18th November. John Titlow
Signalling 45 years for Dickensian ghost story
This month marks 45 years since the broadcast of The Signalman as part of BBC’s ‘A Ghost For Christmas’ on December 22nd 1976. The programme was recently repeated and is currently available on iPlayer at https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b0074ptz/the-signalman
The drama was adapted from a short story by Charles Dickens, written after the author's personal involvement in the fatal Staplehurst crash of 1865, which is widely believed to have caused his premature death. The Signalman was adapted by Andrew Davies and filmed on location at the SVR.
At that time, the line only ran as far as Bewdley, and Bewdley tunnel became the chosen location for filming. A replica GWR signal box was built at the Kidderminster end of the tunnel; this was merely an empty shell for the exterior shots, as all interior shooting took place in Highley signal box, the windows of which were obscured to give the illusion of darkness outside.
The main roles were covered by professional actors, but the remaining cast consisted of SVR volunteers.
To honour this anniversary, Steam Railway magazine is running a feature in its December issue on the film and the role the SVR played in it. The Signalman was a particular favourite of editor Chris Gilson, who was curious to discover the inside story and find out what happened on set.
“It’s never really been covered despite its popularity,” said Chris. “And it’s an interesting tale as anticipated. It’s also a great insight into the early days on the Severn Valley Railway, and the kind of things it was involved with at the time.”
To put together the feature, Chris came to the Railway to meet two of the volunteers featured in the film, Bob Toye and Malcolm Broadhurst. They shared their reminisces, including their impressions of the filming, their duties and the effort involved to get the ‘perfect take.’
To read the feature and discover more about filming on the SVR in those early days of preservation, Steam Railway is now available.
Photos Courtesy of the BBC from Ghost Stories Volume Four BFI DVD
Order your SVR-themed gifts soon for Christmas delivery!
There’s still time to shop at www.svrshop.co.uk for everybody who loves the Railway, as retail manager Lesley Bayliss tells Branch Lines:
Our Christmas lines are selling extremely well, with some items are already sold out. However, there’s still plenty to choose from online and in our shops, including our popular Christmas jumper and other exclusive SVR merchandise. So be quick, because once they’re gone - they’re gone!
Head to www.svrshop.co.uk and order by 17th December for delivery by Christmas, or visit our on site shops, which will be open in line with Christmas services.
Other new Christmas lines include both physical and digital gift vouchers, both of which you can customise and can be bought now for any future travel in 2022, including special events!
Plus, when you spend £75 or more online, you also get a free calendar for 2022; simply add the calendar of your choice to your basket and enter the code SVRCALENDAR at checkout.
Trees, drains, dips and fishplates – all in a day’s work for the P-way teams
Visitors’ eyes may be on the SVR’s Christmas services, but behind the scenes, the permanent way teams continue to ensure a smooth and safe operation. This month we have a gallery of images for you from Rob Steward and Brent Cleeton (Bewdley and Bridgnorth teams respectively.)
The teams have been attending to fallen and suspect trees at Knowlesands and Miners Crossing, some of which were impinging on trains (and Steam in Lights displays.)
"It is better than leaving Mother Nature to decide when a tree falls,” explained Brent. “Most of our lineside trees are quick-growing pioneer species like sycamore, alder, willow and a fair amount of ash. Now the upper canopy leaves have fallen, all the heavy, ivy-covered stems of these understory trees are exposed and the wind sail effect, to which they're not normally subject, is huge."
The annual drain train has operated, as operations manager Matt Robinson reports: "A contractor's vehicle is placed onto one of our ‘Loriot' wagons. We also supply a tanker to refill the lorry with water. The train operates over the full length of the line over a week, completing only a few miles a day, particularly in the sections around Alveley Woods to Country Park and Kinlet to Arley.
“On Monday 22nd November, problems started when Class 09 D4100 'Dick Hardy' was unable to be started at Highley. Clayton D8568 was summoned from Bridgnorth and took over the train for the remainder of the day. Subsequently, Bridgnorth's Class 08 D3586 had a rare trip out to assist with the drain operations for the remainder of the week."
The P-way team has carried out work on Hay Bridge to eliminate a bad dip that is especially noticeable on the smaller tank engines, as Brent explained: "Staff and volunteers tackled an ongoing problem of being unable to properly pack the sleepers on the south side of the bridge. A morticed sleeper was cut through and removed, along with the ends of the waybeams. Two new wooden sleepers completed the repair. It then needed about 70 metres of track jacking and packing to ease the 'hump'!"
Re-padding of the rail end sleeper chairs finally finished on 21st November, and work turned to shimming the joints along and through County Boundary, before final lifting and packing to improve the ride. Finally, Brett posted an image of a rare failure of a flat bottom fishplate on the tunnel side of Eardington summit last week. He added, "There is an obvious rusty patch in the middle of the crack that radiates out from the bolt hole. The pan/pear bolted plates simply aren't as strong as the later round-holed plates."
Click on the gallery for full screen images, descriptions and credits
Testing, testing – take 2
Following a highly successful programme of testing in June 2021 as part of the commissioning works for the first Bayer UK Smartweed Train, the SVR has been chosen to deliver further testing, as operations manager Matt Robinson tells Branch Lines:
The train we tested earlier in the year (train 1) has subsequently been re-engineered at Derby RTC, and the SVR was asked to facilitate further test operations. Paperwork issues for the transit from Derby and the unavailability of the French engineering team from Socofer meant a delayed arrival and start to testing. The train was worked to Kidderminster on 8th November by Loram Rail Operations using hired Class 20 diesels including 20007, the oldest main line diesel locomotive currently passed to operate on Network Rail lines.
On 9th November, we worked the train to Waterworks Straight for camera calibration tests, following which it was placed into 'store' at Bewdley until the start of testing proper. From Monday 29th a full week's testing took place, mainly based around the normal test site near the Bewdley South Down Distant.
As per the first programme of testing, I was 'person-in-charge', looking after the overall operation; I liaised with the Bayer engineer-in-charge and assisted with rail operations as required. The site at Bewdley Tunnel was managed by Steve Jones, who ensured the safety of all contractors on the site and that everyone was clear of the line before permitting any test runs. Steve liaised with myself and the driver to ensure a safe and seamless operation.
Dave Evans was tasked with train operations and ensuring the speeds that the test engineers wanted were hit spot-on throughout the test site, otherwise the test results may have been useless. Dynamic tests ran at varying speeds, normally 11mph, 14mph, 18mph, 22mph and 25mph. Spraying accuracy was then calculated and any adjustments made. For those of us who are not fluent in French, the success of each test was usually determined by how long we were stationary after each pass, whilst adjustments took place!
By the end of play on Thursday 2nd December, the train was performing satisfactorily, and therefore on Friday it was transported to Kidderminster Carriage Shed for some works to remove lighting and cameras for upgrades, and some further works over the CS2 pit. We await a confirmed date for departure of the train by haulier GBRf.
We’ve also been chosen to deliver the test programmes for trains two and three and hope to welcome these shortly. These contracts bring much needed revenue to the Railway.
Photos from Roger Cutts of 50035 and 31466 operating the Bayer train between Bewdley and Kidderminster.
Your chance to rename a locomotive for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
The SVR is launching a competition to rename a steam locomotive in honour of The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Suggestions are being invited from members of the public and everyone who’s closely associated with the Railway. A shortlist will be drawn up and put to a public vote.
“What we’re looking for is something that sums up the best of British,” explained Michael Dunn, head of visitor experience. “Not only will the Railway be proudly celebrating The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee next year, but just a few miles up the road, Birmingham 2022 will see the Midlands highlighted as the venue for the Commonwealth Games. 2022 is going to be a very special year.”
Celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of HM Queen Elizabeth II’s accession to the throne will take place next year, focusing on a special four-day bank holiday from Thursday 2nd until Sunday 5th June.
The 2022 Commonwealth Games take place between 28th July and 8th August, with more than 5,000 athletes taking part from 72 nations.
To enter your suggested name in the competition, just go to svr.co.uk and enter your details before the closing date of 7th February. Following shortlisting and the public vote, the winning name will be cast on an authentic nameplate and attached to the locomotive. The winner of the competition will receive a VIP invite to the naming ceremony.
Photo: Older readers will be aware there was a time when the Severn Valley owned two Stanier 'Jubilee' class 6P5F locomotives, 4-6-0s 5690 Leander and unrestored 45699 Galatea. The former is seen here at a subsequent visit, at the autumn steam gala in 2010. SVR photo library
A late Christmas present – the SVR’s festive services
After eating an excess of chocolates, watching too many reruns of Only Fools and Horses and playing countless games of charades, there’s only one place to shake off those festive cobwebs!
Post-Christmas, the Railway is running a three-train service to get you through to the New Year. Services return on 26th December and continue until 3rd January.
This will be your last chance to ride a standard ‘hop-on, hop-off’ service until 2nd April – so don your scarf and coat for a festive steam train adventure guaranteed to warm the cockles! In addition, the Class 40106 diesel will be in service, putting its steam heating to good use.
All stations, The King and Castle, The Railwayman’s Arms and The Engine House will be open to explore and enjoy.
Tickets are available to book now online or will be available on the day from booking offices along the line.
2857 speeding through the snow. Lewis Maddox
A bright welcome to Bridgnorth Station
With Steam in Lights being one of the most popular events in the Severn Valley Railway calendar, the Bridgnorth station team wanted to ensure everyone not only had a great time but would be safe, as Loretta Milan, the Charitable Trust’s communications manager, told Branch Lines:
An important part of this is not only the spectacular illumination of the engines and carriages, but the station too. Over the last 12 years, the crumbling and decaying British Railways’ 1950s concrete lampposts have been removed and replaced in phases by new lighting in the original GWR style. The project has brightened the station and enhanced authenticity in a way that is designed to last for generations.
However, a section of the driveway leading from the main road to the station car park remained in darkness. Station master Chris Thomas and the SVR’s health and safety team were concerned this might pose a hazard to families arriving in the evenings for Steam in Lights.
The SVR Charitable Trust, the SVR (‘Guarantee’) Company and Bridgnorth Station Fund provided funding for seven additional lampposts that were installed in time for the arrival of visitors. The elegant lamps, again in the GWR style, provide a warm and bright welcome to everyone who arrives at the station.
Thanks to everyone who made a donation toward the new lighting and the Wailing Wall Construction Company, the group of skilled volunteers at Bridgnorth, who worked hard to get the lamps installed in time.
Bridgnorth driveway lighting November 2021. Loretta Milan
Subscription offer for SVR supporters
Mortons, who publish a range of different titles of interest to railway enthusiasts, are offering a 10% discount on a six-month subscription for SVR supporters.
What’s more, each subscription taken up will generate a £4 donation to the SVR Charitable Trust! But hurry, the offer ends on 31st December 2021.
The offer covers the popular titles Heritage Railway, Rail Express, The Railway Magazine, Steam Days and Railways Illustrated.
To take advantage of this special offer, please go to: www.classicmagazines.co.uk/severn21
LNER people, LMS parts, GWR coach!
The weather may have grown colder but the LNER Coach Fund team continues to make considerable progress on the accessible GWR buffet car 9581.
In the bar area, the walls are now panelled in the style of former SVR resident 9631, the Clapham Buffet car. The bar counter position has been marked out on the walls while final design details are considered, and SVR bar staff have been on hand to offer advice.
Currently the miniature kitchen area is being used as a tools store, however the team are looking forward to inviting the bar staff back to advise on that area too!
At the other end of the coach, the saloon area is taking shape, as a mix of images from the turn of the 20th century and their surrounding frames are fitted up.
Large, stained and highly polished wooden panels have also been fitted to the interior; these were donated from an LMS coach broken up for spares. With LMS parts and LNER Coach Fund volunteers, this GWR coach is shaping up to be quite the collaboration!
The famous ‘Might Come in Useful’ stores in the carriage works at Kidderminster have proved their worth once again by providing the steam heating equipment. A series of inter-connected large-diameter pipes running the length of the saloons at floor level has been installed, using new steel brackets.
It’s all now receiving wooden covers with brass vents for a tidy finish. These covers were also from the invaluable Kidderminster stores, overhauled and tidied up as a ‘Covid homework’ project by a team member. Originally thought to be of LMS provenance, the covers were then discovered to have come more appropriately from various GWR Dining Cars.
Additionally, some elegant, wooden tapered ends have now been made and fitted, profiled to deflect impacts from passing wheelchairs (and Henry vacuum cleaners!)
Thanks to a generous sponsor, funds have been made available for seat ends. Unfortunately, no drawings for these could be found, however the team has succeeded in producing an initial prototype using published photographs as a guide, re-engineering the shape to suit disabled users.
Several other jobs have also been carried out. For the communication cord, appropriate hand-pockets - where the famous red chain may be pulled - were obtained from Kidderminster, while wooden covers running the length of the coach are being made from scratch. Hinged vehicle end doors have been fitted in place of the original heavy and cumbersome GWR curved sliding doors, and the electrical circuits and switchgear are being installed. Volunteer Simon Marshall said:
“We are encouraged that the vehicle is really starting to take shape, with light most definitely visible at the end of a long tunnel. A big ‘thank you’ to all who have contributed or helped in any way, not least in conserving those myriad useful spares at Kidderminster, which have saved an absolute fortune!”
Click on the gallery for full screen images, descriptions and credits
Looking forward to 2022
The Railway is continuing to publicise its 2022 services, as head of marketing & communications (and your Branch Lines editor!) Lesley Carr explains:
A new departure (pun intended!) for the Railway this year is that our Christmas on-train visitors will receive a Christmas card with dates of 2022 headline events. These were first announced in November’s Branch Lines.
This will allow visitors to ‘save the date’ for events in 2022 that they’re interested in.
There’ll also be changes to how we produce the brochure. In the past, we’ve produced a ‘preview’ brochure before the end of the year, with an updated brochure issued in the New Year, with amendments to the calendar.
With two different versions in circulation, there was always a possibility of confusion.
The later starting date for our 2022 public services of 2nd April allows us to issue just the one brochure early in 2022, including the final calendar, as agreed with heads of department.
As ever, we’ll let you have fuller details in a future edition of Branch Lines.
Severn Valley Railway (Wolverhampton Branch)
During the pandemic, the Wolverhampton branch has not been able to meet. Secretary Peter Share is keen to find out if the in-person meetings can be revived in 2022.
“We have now been advised that our venue is now fully open for meetings,” Peter told Branch Lines. “We are considering restarting in January and would therefore be keen to know how many Wolverhampton area members and friends would be prepared to join us at our monthly Monday evening meetings.”
Photo caption: The Branch formed in 1967 and has been a major contributor to the SVR. During Members' Day 2004 at Kidderminster, the Branch, on behalf of the Fund, handed over custody of 7819 to The SVR Rolling Stock Trust. It also paid for major parts in wheelchair-accessible vehicles BR Gangwayed Brake 80776 and BR Standard Open 4690. Photo: Wolverhampton branch.
'A 2-6-2 at last - as Nature intended!'
The above words, came from the 82045 steam Locomotive Trust’s project engineer, Tony Massau, as the bid to recreate their new-build locomotive took a significant step forward earlier this week at Bridgnorth MPD.
The photograph, taken on Monday 6th December, shows engineers of the 82045 Steam Locomotive Trust in front of the eponymous loco, now fitted with front and rear pony trucks thanks to another faultless example of co-operation between the SVR's engineers (led by Will Marsh) and the Trust.
With work well advanced on the boiler, and the side tanks ready for trial mounting, 82045 is looking more and more like the next member of this long-lost Riddles class, which would have been a freqent sight on the BR-era Severn Valley line from first introduction in 1952 right through until 1963.
“The exercise on Monday involved use of the wheel-drop installed in Bridgnorth running shed in 2009,” said Chris Proudfoot, the Trust’s publicity officer. “It is hoped that – Covid-19 permitting - the first fire will be lit in 82045's firebox in the second half of 2023. Fingers crossed all round - this will be a real money-spinner, as well as plugging a gap in the annals of steam preservation.”
The 82045 engineering team. Dan Shorthouse
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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.