50035 passes through Arley on the 3/1/18 with the Empty Stock move from Bridgnorth, by Ian Murray
Welcome to your latest edition of Branch Lines!
It’s a pleasure this month to be able to bring you some very good news. In January we reported the shocking vandalism that had been inflicted on two of the SVR’s carriages over the Christmas period. Now there’s a much more positive story to tell. Not only is the necessary restoration work almost finished, but thanks to a concerted effort by the Charitable Trust to spread the word, SVR supporters have rallied round and raised £10,000 in a flash appeal. There’s more detail about this, and news of a very special ‘royal’ visitor for the Spring Steam Gala. There’s a definite bustle behind the scenes as we gear up for reopening on Saturday 17th February, and we’ve updates from the Loco Works, Carriage & Wagon and the Diesel Depot.
And if you ever wondered what things would be like if the 25mph speed limit was relaxed – here’s your chance to find out, in a whistle stop trip from Bewdley to Bridgnorth lasting just three minutes. It’s all here in your February edition of Branch Lines.
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Simon Turner & Lesley Carr, Co-Editors
Picture by Ian Murray
Shock turns to joy as supporters rally round to raise £10,000
After an attack at Christmas by vandals on two of the SVR’s carriages, the Charitable Trust launched an appeal to meet the costs of putting things right. The appeal received extensive coverage on TV, radio and in the press, as well as wide social media interest. As a result, support came flooding in, and £10,000 was raised in just a week!
The vandalism took place on Christmas Day, the only day the Railway was closed over the festive period. Early on Boxing Day, staff discovered the sides of two carriages had been spray painted with graffiti.
As we go to press, and thanks to a major effort by volunteers and staff at Kidderminster Carriage & Wagon, work is now complete on the first of the vandalised carriages, the teak-bodied GNR 2701 dating from 1922. They removed the spray paint by hand, restored the gold leaf lettering and painted lining, and applied several fresh coats of varnish. Supervisor Hugh McQuade explained how they made the most of having 2701 in the paint shop:
“We took this opportunity to spruce up the whole of the carriage, which under normal circumstances wouldn’t have been due into the paint shop for quite a few years. We’ve revarnished both sides so everything matches, and repainted the roof. This means, with luck, we won’t need to attend to 2701 for another five years.”
Meanwhile, using donated graffiti removing products, a small team has taken the cellulose paint off the second vandalised carriage, GWR 1146.
Responding to the success of the £10,000 appeal, Charitable Trust director Shelagh Paterson said:
“The speed and generosity of the response we receive shows us just how shocked people were when the news of this awful incident broke. It also shows the depth of their passion for the Severn Valley Railway, and everything it stands for. Keeping our heritage alive and accessible is clearly very important to the wide range of people who’ve come forward to add their support. With the exception of a handful of larger amounts, most of the donations we received were between £10 and £25. Each one was a vote of confidence in the sterling skills of the SVR’s restoration volunteers and staff, and we are so grateful to everyone for their support.”
Although the appeal for £10,000 to fund repairs on the vandalised carriages has been successful, donations for other urgent SVR carriage projects are still needed. You can donate online now , or phone 01562 757940 and donate using a credit or debit card.
Picture: Derek Stagg, Hugh McQuade, John Beck and James Broughton celebrate £10,000 appeal success
Kerry gives advice on wheelchair-accessible dining
Work to put right the two vandalised carriages had an impact on planned work for Carriage & Wagon, not least the much awaited start of work on converting 80776 into a wheelchair-accessible dining car. But in the background, things have still been happening with this exciting project.
Volunteers have been renovating a number of chairs which can be set out as required for non-wheelchair users. And a visit earlier this week by SVR supporter Kerry Lloyd provided a wealth of information and highlighted a host of factors for consideration when it comes to designing the tables for this carriage.
C&W volunteer David Higgins has been researching the best table height to accommodate wheelchairs, but when Kerry arrived, he soon discovered not all wheelchairs are the same! Some, like Kerry’s, have sloping armrests, allowing the chair to get close to the table for a comfortable eating position, but others, like the one kept at Kidderminster station, have flat armrests that won’t fit under a standard table. Furthermore, the width of a wheelchair means tables in the specially designed carriage will need to be longer than standard. Kerry, from Stourport, has been visiting the SVR since her childhood, and was delighted to give some practical advice to the restoration team: “The dining car is such a great idea, and I’m very happy to help as a ‘table tester’! It’s great that the SVR is making sure they can offer wheelchair users like me the opportunity for on train dining, and I’m looking forward to seeing this particular carriage on the Railway, once it’s all finished.”
Converting 80776 is just part of a larger SVR Charitable Trust project to improve wheelchair-accessibility at the SVR. The Trust secured £75,000 of funding from the Department for Transport for the project, which also includes the ongoing renovation at Bridgnorth of 4399. This will be another wheelchair carriage and once it joins the fleet, the SVR will be able to offer accessible accommodation on every single service it runs.
To support carriage restoration at the Railway, please donate online at http://svrtrust.org.uk/individual-support/donate-online-2.html
Young blood joins the Guarantee Company Board
The youngest director of the SVR by some margin has been appointed to the board of the Severn Valley Railway Company (the Guarantee Company). Jordan Taylor, who lives in Bewdley, succeeded to this post in the face of strong competition.
Chairman of SVR G, David Williams said, “Jordan has a wide range of interests in, and achievements on, the Railway. He started as a member of the Junior Club and progressed to station and platform duties at Bewdley. Later, he joined the motive power department as a cleaner and gravitated to become a steam loco fireman, and more recently a duty shed master at Bewdley. Meantime, he also qualified as a signalman at Arley and became a member of the three-man signal box restoration gang. This work resulted in a natural progression to become a member of Alan Davies' Presentation Committee, one of four sub-committees set up by the SVR G Board in recent times.
“Outside the SVR, Jordan is a qualified mechanic, becoming a railway technician at Tyseley TMD. Recently he has become a mainline train driver for the new West Midlands Railway, based at Birmingham New Street. We welcome him and hope he enjoys this new SVR experience!”
A ‘royal’ visitor for the Spring Steam Gala
Subject to final agreements between the SVR and Great Western Society Limited, it’s expected that the iconic King Class locomotive No 6023 ‘King Edward II’ will join the line up at the Spring Steam Gala between 16th and 18th March. As locomotive coordinator Duncan Ballard explains, it’s all linked to some of the GWS’s testing requirements for the loco:
“6023 has a new smoke box draughting system fitted because of alterations that were made to the height of the loco. Its steaming ability of the loco requires proving on loaded trains, and testing is likely to start in late February. 6023 is a fantastic addition to an already stellar gala line up and I'm sure everyone will enjoy the chance to see this locomotive in operation on the SVR.”
Photo: by Steven Reid
Bridgnorth access footbridge closed for safety reasons
Early in January, the footbridge leading to Bridgnorth station from the town was closed after SVR staff notified police that the station end of the bridge had lifted "significantly" and was "hanging dangerously in mid air”.
The footbridge is owned by Shropshire Council, whose engineers have investigated and discovered the problem is worse than was first envisaged. It’s thought the cause may be the effects of cold weather and the long-term wear of pedestrians crossing over the bridge.
Work to carry out a temporary repair to the footbridge has begun and should be finished by mid February, in time for the Railway’s half term services. This short-term repair will also allow the bridge to be open throughout the summer. Contractors will return to carry out permanent repairs in the autumn.
Shropshire Council engineers will continue to monitor the footbridge on a regular basis to make sure it is safe until the permanent repairs are completed.
Steve Brown, the authority’s highways, transport and environmental maintenance manager, said: "Works to design a permanent repair will be a lot more complex and therefore engineers have worked up a ‘quick-fix’ solution to enable the footbridge to be re-opened sooner to avoid major disruption to members of the public and tourists visiting the SVR.
“The footbridge is also a vital link between the SVR station and the surrounding facilities and businesses in the town centre. A permanent solution will be drawn up in the interim period, with works being planned for later in the year to avoid the peak tourism season.”
New Gresley tyres arrive at Kidderminster
New tyres have been fitted onto sets of carriage wheels for the SVR’s teak carriages. The fitting was carried out by South Devon Railway Engineering in Buckfastleigh. The tyre blanks were sourced from South Africa, and once they’d arrived in Devon they were heated so they would expand, allowing the wheels to be inserted into the tyre. You can see the process of heating the tyre in the gas heating ring in the first photograph.
The second photograph shows the machine forming the tyre to hold the Gibson ring in place. This is a large clip that prevents the tyre falling off the wheel should it become loose.
The final photo shows the wheels with their shiny new tyres, ready and waiting in Kidderminster Carriage & Wagon. They could end up on any of the SVR’s nine Gresley teak carriages, depending on where the need arises.
Photos by David Mead and Richard Herington
Driving out the damp at Bewdley
Assistant stationmaster Dai Philips sent in this photo of the waiting room external wall, which has been the subject of some care and attention recently. Dai explained, “A lot of the original mortar was missing, so we were experiencing damp problems in the waiting room. Stonemason Philip Chatfield has removed what was left of the old mortar and replaced the odd damaged brick to give a better appearance to the brickwork. We’re very pleased with this excellent result.”
Regular readers might remember our September 2017 article about Philip’s extensive contributions to the stonework at Bewdley, and in which we revealed his talents as a renowned sculptor. Watch this space for news of an exciting project he has been undertaking for Arley station.
Do you have knowledge of business rates relief?
If so, the Railway needs you! We want to look into making an application for mandatory and discretionary business rates relief, but need help from members with expertise and knowledge in this area. If you would like to get involved, the general manager would love to hear from you. Please contact email@example.com in the first instance.
New jacks for the Diesel Depot
Our Kidderminster diesel maintenance facility is undoubtedly the largest and best equipped in the heritage rail network, but things just got even better. The depot now boasts four 35-tonne lifting jacks that will make maintenance of our diesel engines safer and more efficient.
The jacks were developed by Sheffield-based lifting specialists Mechan, who made these particular pieces of equipment taller than usual, to accommodate the large components on our heritage fleet. Supplied with moving anvils and jacking brackets, they’re able to produce a precise, synchronised lift to three metres.
Mechan’s sales manager, Lindsey Mills said: “Severn Valley is best known for its steam trains, but it also boasts an impressive collection of diesel engines. Many of them are more than 50 years old and require regular care and attention. Our jacks enable depot operatives to carry out undercar work in comfort, with confidence that their safety is not being compromised and we are proud to be part of the team keeping these classic vehicles in service.”
“What’s going on in the Loco Works?”
Shed master Martin White sends this update from Bridgnorth
Someone asked me this question the other day, then added, “It must be easy this year with fewer locomotives to look after!” Hopefully this comment was made with tongue in cheek, as life in the MPD is never easy.
Firstly let’s explain about ‘fewer locos’. 7812 ‘Erlestoke Manor’ and 34053 ‘Sir Keith Park’ both left the SVR in January. 34053 has moved down to the Swanage Railway, actually to Herston Works, home of its owners, whilst the Manor has gone to be overhauled at Tyseley, funded by Erlestoke Manor Fund (EMF), its owning group.
However, these locos didn’t just disappear by magic. A good deal of work was done on both of them in between their last SVR steaming and them being loaded onto road transport. Members of EMF spent a busy few days preparing the loco for movement, splitting the loco and tender, removing the grate, fully cleaning the firebox, ash pan and smoke box, etc. The tender is remaining on the SVR and is already well into a programme of repainting prior to being paired with Bradley Manor this season.
34053 had numerous repairs and jobs to be completed which, had it been staying on SVR, would have been part of its winter maintenance programme. But, as part of the hire agreement with its owners, the onus was on SVR to send ‘Sir Keith’ back in good shape. These tasks included the removal of tender wheel sets for some axle box work. Thank goodness for the wheel-drop, which makes this sort of task routinely possible. Additionally, on the first weekend of 2018, many MPD volunteers gave 34053 a final clean – fully deserved by a loco which has clocked up over 40,000 in the care of SVR.
Finally, considerable time and manpower was needed to shunt them to the north side of the boiler shop to facilitate loading the two locos onto road vehicles.
So, that’s two fewer locos to look after…..what about the rest? The winter closed period usually has a set of maintenance tasks for each loco. This commences with all of the steam locos returning to Bridgnorth for a thorough clean of the fireboxes, smoke boxes and ash pans. The boilers are then drained, washed out and examined. For most of the SVR fleet, it’s time for annual insurance checks, with visits from an external inspector to complete a meticulous examination, firstly of each loco cold, subsequently of it hot and in steam.
That’s most of the regular tasks covered off. However, there is plenty more underway to keep the paid and volunteer workforce busy, such as the substantial work being carried out on 2857 at the beginning of this significant year in its life.
Update from Bridgnorth
Pre-Christmas snowfalls meant the best part of a week’s work was lost on site, and the planned temporary covering over the roof was not put in place. Infrastructure manager Chris Bond explains more:
“It’s meant the roof trusses have been exposed longer than we would have liked in the winter weather. Once the temporary roof covering is in place, drying out can begin.
“The rear flat roof of the toilets and buffet are now ready for specialist contractors to apply the zinc covering. The buffet chimney stack is also nearing completion to cap level in readiness for all the stone chimney caps and pots to be lifted into position with a crane.
“Inside, all of the gaps left in the interior walls for ease of movement within the building have been closed up. The new power cable was due to be installed but has had to be postponed due to the owner of vehicle parked above the connection point disappearing on holiday!
“To cheer everyone up, have a look at the superb GWR style wall light bracket, fabricated from scratch by Mick Yarker at Kidderminster. Three of these will be mounted on the building with appropriate style lamps, and they’re examples of the design detail being applied to the building, and the craftsmanship of one of our longstanding volunteers.”
Vacancy at the SVR
There’s an opportunity for a cook to join the team at Kidderminster. This could be full-time, or a job share. For more details, contact Gavin Chance on 01562 747505. To apply, send a CV and covering letter to firstname.lastname@example.org
GWR 9615 Kitchen Car presents a challenge at Bewdley
Volunteers and staff at Bewdley Carriage & Wagon are busy with the restoration of GWR 9615. This kitchen car is owned by the SVR Charitable Trust, which is funding the current overhaul.
It’s a major job, as Carriage & Wagon manager David Mead explains:
“The carriage has been stripped internally as far as is safe. We’re replacing the wooden body framework that has rotted. So far, one end has been removed, and all the rotten timbers have been replaced.
“The first section of side framing has been removed. We can only take out sections one by one, because the roof and internal wall need to be supported. It looks as if all the frame work, including the other end will need to be removed and the majority of the wood replaced. Some of the sections are quite complex and therefore time-consuming to reproduce, the old rotten section being used as template.
“Then we’ll move on to repair the roof, replace the metal skin, refit the glass and rebuild the doors, and we may have to replace parts of the floor. The next stage will be to design and procure the kitchen, which will of course need to meet current health regulations. The remainder of the internals can then be repaired and refitted.
“Originally I thought this would be a two-year project. I am currently reviewing the time line and think three years might be closer to the mark.”
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General view of the property
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