The DMU is seen approaching Sterns with a Bridgnorth bound service on the 2/1/2019, by Ian Murray
Welcome to your latest edition of Branch Lines!
With plummeting temperatures and forecasts of all sorts of doom and gloom, please spare a thought for the many SVR volunteers who’ve been outside in all weathers over the past few weeks, repairing the track and infrastructure, getting the stations into tip top shape, and fettling the rolling stock. They are the backbone behind this wonderful Railway, and our thanks go to them all. The 2019 season is about to begin, and we hope to see you again soon. By the way there’s lots to see and do in the half term holiday starting on Saturday 16th February, as you’ll read in this edition of Branch Lines.
We’re celebrating the opening of the Bridgnorth refreshment room and counting down the days to the end of the ‘helping hands for Falling Sands’ appeal. Did you know there’s only until 14th February to add a name to the donation wall, if you haven’t already done so? Also this month we bring you an intriguing tale from the archive room and reveal an unusual find buried beneath the track bed at Borle Viaduct.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.com . Our next edition will be published on Sunday 3rd March, and we’ll need to have your contribution by Thursday 28th February in order to include it.
Keep warm folks!
Simon Turner & Lesley Carr, Co-Editors
Picture by Ian Murray
Bridgnorth refreshment room is open for business
The SVR received the keys to the new Bridgnorth refreshment room and toilets last month as the contractor left the site. On Saturday 26th January, the refreshment room welcomed its first customers, both members of the public and volunteers. It will open between 10am and 4pm every day, in order to make sure that all the systems and equipment are working correctly. The opening hours will be extended when train services recommence on Saturday 16th February.
A grand opening event will take place later this year to thank shareholders, fulfilling a pledge made in the 2016 share offer document. Look out for a further announcement soon with full details.
Donation wall for Falling Sands – only days left to add your name
The ‘Helping hands for Falling Sands’ appeal project ends on 14th February, so there are only a few days left to add your name, or that of someone you care about, to the donation wall. Signing up is easy at www.svrtrust.org.uk .
This project will carry out extensive and urgently needed restoration to Falling Sands Viaduct near Kidderminster and will also celebrate and share the history of the people who built the viaduct itself, and who worked or travelled on the Railway from its earliest days. The project is being led by the SVR Charitable Trust, which must raise £397,000 match funding, in order to help secure a £1 million grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund*. Trust director Shelagh Paterson said, “Our appeal has received a tremendous response, and we are confident we will secure all the match funding. With less than two weeks to go, we want to make sure no one misses out on the chance to have their name added to the donation wall, as testament to their determination to save the viaduct.”
As the appeal enters its very last phase, SVR driver Andy Christie has worked with Sam Birchall of Sammy B Films to produce a superb film, explaining the background to the restoration project. Shelagh added, “Andy and Sam have done us proud with this film. It’s their special contribution to the project and we are hugely grateful for their considerable time and expertise.”
Watch the film here: https://youtu.be/TOab_HyRMMc
On Wednesday 6th February, a team from the Heritage Fund will visit the Falling Sands site, as part of a final meeting with SVR representatives before they consider the Charitable Trust’s bid for £1 million. Their decision is expected in March.
*The National Lottery Heritage Fund was announced a few days ago as the new name for the former Heritage Lottery Fund.
Full steam ahead for half term at the SVR
As the winter maintenance shut down period nears its end, things are hotting up for a spectacular half term holiday week between 16th and 24th February.
If you’re visiting, make sure you drop into the new, much-anticipated refreshment room at Bridgnorth. The brand new building, constructed in the style of a Great Western Railway building c1900, is part of our extensive development plan to transform Bridgnorth Station. It’s been funded by the year-long, hugely successful 2016 Share Offer, which smashed its £2.5 million target back in November 2017.
If you’re a regular reader, you may well have been following the restoration developments for British Railways Standard 4 locomotive No. 75069. Following the most extensive re-build ever carried out on the SVR, it will haul its first passenger service train in 24 years on Saturday 16th February.
And there’s more good news if you’re thinking of bringing the kids or grandkids; the price of a Family Freedom of the Line ticket has rolled back to the reduced price of £49. This covers up to two adults and up to four children for unlimited travel along the line during the day, plus free entry to The Engine House Visitor Centre, and free access to a range of fun, half-term activities.
There’s more information at www.svr.co.uk
Photo: D Stubbings (75069)
Borle Viaduct work reveals marks left by SVR pioneers
One of the main projects during the 2019 winter shutdown has been the remedial works on Borle Viaduct, and the cause of the damaging water penetration isn’t the only thing that’s been uncovered during the past few weeks.
The five-yearly line report highlighted that the viaduct was suffering from water penetration. Infrastructure manager Chris Bond explains, “This has led to erosion of the structure from freeze-thaw action which is not good for the viaduct’s long term health. We know that some work was carried out in the 1970s by the then SVR civils team, including the application of concrete to the top of the arches, and the installation of tie bars to arrest the outward movement of the spandrel walls. Forty years on, it was time to investigate why water has been circumnavigating the concrete and causing significant wet areas on the underside. After a competitive tender process, we awarded Stepnell Group a six-week contract to carry out the job.
“The first job was for our permanent way team to remove the track as soon as the engineering possession was granted. Stepnell staff then scraped off the ballast for re-use later, and removed large quantities of fill material for depositing on the site of the former Kinlet Colliery sidings to the south of the viaduct. This is made up of a motley collection of ash, dirt and clay-like material, the best of which will be re-used when the viaduct is backfilled. The remaining dirt is then blasted clear using an air hose so that close visual inspection can be made of the existing concrete.
“We’ve found that when the concrete was installed in the 1970s, the edge of the filled area was shuttered and a mortar capping applied to seal it. Over the years this has failed and the shuttering rotted away. This has allowed water to get below the concrete and caused the water penetration that has been noted. The plan is to seal this gap with a suitable modern compound.
“Generally the concrete is in good condition but will require adding to in places to create sufficient fall to the new drainage points that have been core drilled to provide a means of escape for rainwater. Interestingly, the Wellington boot marks of those early SVR pioneers are preserved like dinosaur footprints in the 1970s concrete. Perhaps those who took part in the exercise may remember the vast quantities shifted by hand?
“Once the repairs and fettling have been completed, the backfilling will begin with the aim of handing back to the PW in plenty of time to relay the track back across before the February half term running.”
Dealing with unwelcome surprises at Bridgnorth loco shed
Shed master Martin White writes with this update
Locomotive winter maintenance is well underway, being a mixture of boiler washouts, annual inspections, insurance examinations, maintenance and routine repairs. There are also more extensive repairs on 43106 and 1450, as both locos were due their valve and piston examinations.
As soon as these locomotives were stripped down for examination it became apparent that there was considerably more work required than we’d expected. The valves on 1450 were found to be below ‘scrapping size’ (the acceptable limits as dictated in the original ‘limits & fits’ book.) New valves are needed; we’ve sent the pattern to the foundry and face quite a wait for the castings to be delivered before a start can be made on machining. With re-metalling of the cross heads, replacement of some bearing bushes and machining of numerous rods, bushes, motion and the slide bars, there’s a lot of work to be done.
As for 43106, it’s probably safe to say that the loco couldn’t have gone on much longer, being at the top of its mileage band. It became apparent just how tired the ‘Pig’ was once the valve and cylinder covers were taken off. The cylinders were acceptable, but the valve chests were significantly worn, and the valve heads themselves had started to break up. This means four new valve heads need to be machined (we had anticipated this and had ordered castings in advance from the foundry), plus the valve chests have to be rebored using the SVR’s own boring bar. Although portable enough to be moved and lifted by a forklift truck, the boring machine still requires considerable ‘grunt’ to be positioned and set up. Whilst the cylinders and pistons themselves don’t need major work, one of the cylinder covers was found to be cracked and requires replacement. So, that’s another new component to be cast and approximately 40 hours’ work to machine it before it can be fitted. This cover was new three years ago, and along with the cylinder cover studs/nuts being loose, is evidence that the loco has suffered a hydraulic event fairly recently. Hence, this matter was included in the annual MPD briefing sessions to all footplate personnel, as a reminder about the importance of good loco management.
Elsewhere in the works, the team from the Warwickshire Industrial Locomotive Trust have re-wheeled the frames of ‘Warwickshire’. The frames of the tender for ‘Hagley Hall’ will soon follow suit, with the axle boxes having been trial fitted. These two re-wheelings will allow that part of the works to be cleared for the first time in a number of years ready for the next occupant of this valuable workshop space.
Horn grinding and other work continues on 42968’s frames and minor finishing jobs plus the paintwork on 75069 are being concluded. Whilst not working on 75069, Mick Flint, the works painter, is altering the identity of pannier tank 5764. There’s lots more going on and I’ve not even mentioned the boiler shop!
Photos: Martin White, one of Mick Flint painting 5764, the other shows machining a spring hangar for 42968
Latest news on 80776, the SVR’s wheelchair diner restoration
Months of work on the exterior of 80776 are now complete, and attention has turned to the interior. At carriage & wagon in Kidderminster, James Broughton has been fixing beading strips to the ceiling panels. James created each strip of beading by planing a length of wood, as shown in the photograph.
The interior will all come together over the next few months, as the restoration team installs a unique zig-zag arrangement of tables to create a layout that’s as flexible as possible to accommodate wheelchair users and their companions in true heritage-style dining.
As you can read elsewhere in this edition, apprentice George Brogan has been talking in depth about his work on the exterior of 80776 in the February edition of The Railway Magazine.
BR Mark 1 carriage 80776, along with 4399, is part of an ‘Access for All’ project, funded by the SVR Charitable Trust and supported by a £75,000 grant from the Department for Transport. www.svrtrust.org.uk
Photos: Richard Herington
SVR archive to the rescue
Peter Darkin was one of the team that set up the SVR archive at The Engine House, Highley in 2009. For Peter, this was a new direction as an SVR volunteer, after he retired following 37 years’ service as a guard. He contacted us to share some experiences from a talk he gave recently to a support group for people with Alzheimers. Over to Peter…
“As I gave my talk, I noticed a gentleman sitting near the front who appeared to have fallen asleep. It was nearing coffee break time when the organiser, accompanied by paramedics, interrupted me and asked everyone to take a break, whilst the sleeping gentleman was attended to.
“It transpired that he had just passed out, but the thought crossed my mind that if he had died, I would become known as someone who had literally bored an audience to death. Happily the gentleman in question recovered consciousness before being taken to hospital.
“After the talk had concluded and questions asked, I was approached by another gentleman who said that his father had bought shares in the SVR in 1987 and although he thought they would have come to him on the death of his father, he couldn’t remember. He was also struggling to remember where his father had lived.
“The gentleman gave his name as David xxxx, which was also his father’s name. Back in the archive room, where 60 bound ledgers contain the original share register of the company, I looked up David xxxx but found only a David John xxxx, at an address near Tamworth with shares bought in 1987 and also a transfer number.
“I emailed the gentleman with this information and he said that he was David John xxxx (his father had simply been David), and he now remembered that his father had lived at the address near Tamworth.
“The entry proved that he had indeed transferred the shares into his own name and he is now contacting Neville Registrars to give his current address, enabling him to claim his entitlement to free travel on the SVR!”
A nifty bit of detective work on Peter’s part, and a happy outcome to David’s query. The archive room holds a vast collection of information dating back to the earliest days of the SVR’s preservation. It includes every copy of SVR News, every timetable, promotional booklet and press cuttings from 1965 onwards.
As well as his work in the archive, David has joined the education team and talks to visiting school groups about his experiences as a child during the second world war.
Photo: Rob Whale and Peter Darkin in the archive room
Two SVR-based Class 50s are joining the GB Railfreight fleet
Rail Magazine has reported that the Class 50 Alliance’s 50007 Hercules and 50049 Defiance are being repainted into GB Railfreight’s livery; the first of the 50s went to Eastleigh Works on January 15 for its transformation.
The locomotives will be available to operate selected GBRf trains on a ‘spot-hire’ basis, on work that includes moving locomotives to heritage railway events and rail tours. The 50s will remain based at the SVR.
A charter from London to Penzance on 23rd March will be the official debut for the two locomotives in their new colour schemes. GBRf is funding the repaint.
GBRf’s managing director John Smith said, “Our relationship with the Class 50 Alliance has grown over the years, with the painting of the two locomotives being an excellent way to recognise the fact. Having first witnessed Class 50s at Crewe in the early 1970s, I never thought the day would arise when one would be painted in the livery of GBRf.”
Image: Rail Magazine
GWR 5619 is third guest locomotive for SVR spring gala
It’s been confirmed that 5619, the oldest preserved member of the 56XX class, will guest star at the spring steam gala in March.
Built in 1925, and eventually withdrawn in June 1964, the tank was sent to the famous Barry scrapyard. It was restored in 1981 and has run on various heritage lines across the country. It’s owned by Telford Steam Railway and carries BR unlined black livery with late crest.
The March steam gala boasts the perfect line-up for our GWR branch line themed weekend. Large Prairie No 4144 and Pannier Tank No 6430 join 5619 as visitors for the event, working alongside home fleet engines of Ex-Port Talbot Railway No 813, Small Tank No 1450, Hawksworth Pannier Tank No 1501, Heavy Freight loco No 2857, Pannier Tank No 7714 and No 7802 Bradley Manor.
The gala takes place Friday 15th to Sunday 17th March and there’s full information at https://www.svr.co.uk/SEItem.aspx?a=146
Photo: Stuart Axe
Local anger at removal of Kidderminster cobbles
Work to remove cobbles from the forecourt of the mainline Kidderminster station has met with anger from a number of residents, the Worcester News reported recently.
The removal of the stones, by Network Rail, is part of the £4.3million development scheme for their station, and will see most of the cobbles outside it replaced with Tarmac in a bid to improve safety and accessibility. The cobbles outside the SVR’s station will however remain in place.
Speaking to the newspaper, local man Malcolm Ballard said, “I think it’s a shame. I used to visit the town centre a lot in the 60s and those cobbles hold a lot of memories for me.”
Meanwhile another resident, Sarah Edwards, claimed, “Water will sit on the Tarmac and create puddles which are a hazard in themselves. The cobbles are a central part of the town. They’re part of our history and they’re just going to be stripped away.”
The SVR’s general manager Nick Ralls said, “Network Rail have offered us some of the cobbles to use at Bridgnorth, and for future repairs to our forecourt at Kidderminster.”
Photo: Worcester News
New build 82045 touches SVR metal
In conjunction with the SVR, the 82045 Steam Locomotive Trust has announced that its new build locomotive has been lifted onto Severn Valley rails for the first time. This is a major milestone in the project and means the locomotive is one step closer to steaming for the first time.
The locomotive is being moved to the erecting shop to allow work to continue on this project, to build the next member of the extinct Riddles BR 3 MT 2-6-2 82000 tank class. Unlike most other current new build projects, which aim to recreate larger main-line types, this new build loco is intended specifically for heritage line use.
For regular updates or to donate towards the project, go to www.82045.org.uk
Photo: S Lench
Apprentice George is in the heritage press
The Railway Magazine is running a series of features about the SVR’s apprentices and its February edition features George Brogan. George is in the final year of his apprenticeship and is based at Kidderminster carriage & wagon. In the article, he describes his involvement with the ambitious project to restore and convert the Charitable Trust-owned British Railways Mark 1 carriage 80776 into the Railway’s first ever dining car, able to accommodate wheelchair users. There’s more about this project elsewhere in this edition.
The Railway Magazine is available at all good newsagents or you can subscribe at https://www.railwaymagazine.co.uk/ . The magazine’s publishers, Mortons, are sponsoring apprentice training at the SVR, in partnership with the Charitable Trust.
Photo: Lesley Carr (shows George adding lettering to 80776)
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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.