The magnificent ‘Taw Valley’ nameplate of rebuilt SR West Country class 34027, taken at new year. John Sherratt
Welcome to your latest edition of Branch Lines!
Did you manage to visit the SVR over the festive period? We hope so, and if not, encourage you to get planning for your next visit once we reopen on 2nd April!
A very warm welcome to the first edition of Branch Lines for 2022, which we hope will stave off those winter chills! We hope you have had an enjoyable festive break and that you and your loved ones have managed to stay safe and healthy.
The Railway may now be closed for public services, but that doesn’t mean everything has ground to a halt. Far from it, and it’s our pleasure to bring you another packed edition of your favourite monthly newsletter!
Very welcome news came with the announcement of a grant of more than £1million from the Culture Recovery Fund, which will play an invaluable part in helping the SVR move towards a sustainable operation in 2022. We report on the very successful Christmas services, the income from which will be another key factor in helping the Railway through the next few months. There’s a rundown of all the exciting events we have planned for you in the coming year, and we look in on progress for Hagley Hall as well as finding out what’s happening across the SVR in all sorts of areas you might not normally get to see!
It was lovely to hear from David Crowhurst, who contacted email@example.com to let us know he’s enjoying his monthly helping of SVR news: “As a one-time worker on the railway (Bewdley and Arley Booking Offices in the 1980s) and now an occasional traveller, I am always fascinated to read the most informative and interesting on-line magazines. It just enables me to feel I am completely in touch. We lived at Innage Lea, Northwood Lane, Bewdley at the time and our garden was leased from the railway - part of the embankment. It is a very happy memory. Thank you for its production each month. I am, incidentally, the son and grandson of GWR men, and the GWR is perforce 'in the blood' as you might say."
Lesley Carr & Patrick Hearn, co-editors
The Branch Lines team is Lesley Carr, Patrick Hearn, Amy Baker and Nicola Fox
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A £1 million + lifeline for the SVR
Shortly before Christmas, the SVR received the very welcome news that it had been awarded £1,012,900 from the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage (CRF).
The CRF is administered by the National Lottery Heritage Fund in partnership with Historic England, on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. This third round of funding was announced in June, and was aimed at helping heritage organisations as audiences begin to return. The Railway is among nearly 140 heritage organisations to benefit.
“We are delighted to receive a grant of this significance,” said Mike Ball, chairman of SVR (Holdings) Plc.
“It is an acknowledgement of the importance of the Severn Valley Railway as one of the largest heritage railways in the country and one of the region’s leading tourist attractions. It will make a huge difference to our recovery, and will allow us to plan positively for 2022, retaining our vital heritage railway skills and supporting our operational programme as we work towards operating normally and sustainably from April 2022.”
“The grant will fund salaries and running costs between 1st October 2021 and 31st January 2022, to help the Railway recover from the financial impact and loss of income caused by the Covid-19 crisis.”
Managing director Helen Smith added: “The last 20 months have been some of the most difficult in the Railway’s history. We have suffered huge losses. Without the support we have received from the CRF, we may not have survived. This latest award makes a huge difference, though we still face a considerable challenge in the months and years ahead.”
SVR (Holdings) Plc submitted the application in liaison with the SVR Charitable Trust. This was a major undertaking, which required significant work across the two organisations.
In November 2020, the SVR received £906,000 in the first round of CRF awards. Its application and appeal for the second round were not successful.
Above: 75069 preparing to depart Hampton Loade with the final service to Bridgnorth of the 2021 season on 3rd January 2022. Kenny Felstead.
Below: Three new timbers now fitted at Hampton Loade north end points by full time PWay paid staff working with Bridgnorth PWay volunteers and line patrollers. Brent Cleeton, 12th January 2022.
A packed line up for 2022 at the SVR
Dates have now been set for the full range of special events and themed weekends at the Railway, and it’s expected that tickets for both steam and diesel spring galas and the 1940s weekends will go on sale in late January.
Freedom-of-the-line fares have been set at £25 for tickets booked in advance (no increase on 2021 prices) and will cost £27.50 if bought on the day of travel. The SVR reopens for passenger services at the Open Weekend on 2nd and 3rd April when visitors will have the rare opportunity to glimpse behind the scenes at areas not usually open to visitors. This year the Railway will not open for the February half term. This is to enable essential infrastructure works to take place, along with the operation to empty the Bridgnorth loco shed prior to its overhaul starting in May.
The Railway is hoping that on-train dining will return this season, and bodywork refurbishment is already underway on BR Mark 1 Buffet Restaurant carriage W1667, to be followed by a kitchen refit. Look out for updates in future editions of Branch Lines.
Here are the dates for your diary:
April 2-3 Open House Weekend to start the 2022 season
April 21-24 Spring Steam Gala
May 7-8 Model Railway Weekend
May 19-22 Spring Diesel Festival
June 2-5 Queen’s Platinum Jubilee
June 25-26 Step Back to the 1940s
July 2-3 Step Back to the 1940s
July 23-24 Day of Dance
August 6-7 Vintage Transport Weekend
August 20-21 Food & Drink Fayre
Sept 8-10 Bridgnorth Beer Festival
Sept 15-18 Autumn Steam Gala
Sept 24-25 Model Railway Weekend
Sept 29-Oct 2 Autumn Diesel Bash
Oct 22-23 Frost Fayre (Christmas gifts)
Oct 27-29 Ghost Train
Nov 18 Steam in Lights commences (selected dates to Dec 23)
Nov 26 Santa Trains commence (selected dates to Dec 24)
Nov 26 Enchanted Express commences (selected dates to Dec 24)
A look back at some images from previous years' events. Please click on the gallery for fuller images, descriptions and credit
Wheels and a boiler for Hagley Hall
The restoration of this GWR Collett 4900 Hall Class locomotive is gathering pace at Bridgnorth MPD. The locomotive has now been wheeled and the boiler dropped into place. Normally for safety reasons, access to such events are off limits but thanks to two beautifully-shot videos from Sam Birchall on the SVR’s YouTube channel, you can step behind the scenes and watch these mile stones take place.
Project leader Dave Fulcher-Insull talks viewers through the process and effort required to achieve these landmarks after months of planning, machining, and other preparations.
The continuation of this project is made possible largely through £500,000 in legacies, funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, generous donations, and the longstanding fundraising undertaken by the Friends of Locomotive 4930 Hagley Hall.
To watch, click on the videos or head to the SVR’s YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/channel/UCoaT_geZ6GwRscQgOlchh_w
Christmas – SVR style!
As the fairy lights and tinsel are carefully packed away, it’s time to reflect on the Railway’s Christmas season. It’s been a huge success, with a little bit of Severn Valley Railway magic scattered along the full length of the line.
With 176 pre-Christmas departures and 7,419 separate visiting groups across four events, the whole SVR team made sure that Christmas 2021 was ‘the most wonderful time of the year’.
That’s been reflected in the TripAdvisor feedback, with 75 five-star reviews for the festive season along with a huge amount of positive feedback received in the SurveyMonkey questionnaire that every customer receives after their visit.
Superlatives were not short in supply, with words like ‘magical’, ‘incredible’ and ‘wonderful’ appearing alongside praise for platform staff from reviewers, many of whom say they’re already planning their return visit.
The festive spirit clearly spread to the world wide web too – and that’s not a reference to the new SVR pink gin! It was a busy period for the online store, which received 443 orders in the month prior to Christmas Day. Safe to say, Santa’s elves couldn’t have done a better job than our retail team!
The festive season services between Boxing Day and 3rd January transported more than 3,000 people looking to shake off the festive cobwebs with a journey along the Valley.
Michael Dunn, head of visitor experience, said: “It was exciting to experience my first Christmas on the Severn Valley Railway and I’d personally like to thank everyone for helping to make our busiest time of year a success. The positive feedback has been very encouraging and we’ll use the valuable comments received to make sure 2022’s events are even better. We won’t be resting on our laurels, you can be sure of that!”
“The sheer hard work and effort of both volunteers and paid staff has been inspiring,” added managing director Helen Smith. “After our second year operating under ever-changing Covid restrictions, the SVR determination to make things work shone through across the Railway. The passenger revenue that’s been generated as a result will make a huge difference to ensuring we can start to move back to a more sustainable way of operating in the coming year.”
Click on the gallery for larger screen images, descriptions and credits.
Sterns and the Kidderminster footbridge receive some winter attention
In November’s Branch lines, head of infrastructure Chris Bond set out works planned for the winter. These include major projects at Sterns and Network Rail’s replacement of Kidderminster footbridge.
Works at Sterns were confirmed with Walsh Construction in December. The operations department has already given considerable assistance with preparations, and will provide logistical support for Walsh.
Operations manager Matt Robinson told Branch Lines: “We have been busy setting up the possession at the north end of the slip site. This includes delivery of hire plant for the contractors, and positioning SVR machinery, locomotives and wagons for logistics movements. The line was severed by the permanent way team, and digging out commenced yesterday (12th January) by our own machine and staff.”
Chris Bond continued: “After they’ve removed an area of deep ballast arising from successive tamping and a quantity of embankment fill, Walsh are due on site next week, 17th January. They will replace the removed material with a lightweight aggregate called Leca (lightweight expanded clay aggregate) which consists of pea-sized sintered clay balls, to reduce the weight on the area by more than 50%, and hopefully slow down the movement.”
At Kidderminster, Network Rail’s contractor Story Contracting is in possession of the site and occupying a compound created on SVR property. Temporary closure notices have been erected at both ends of the footbridge.
Even at this stage the timetable is subject to change as those involved, like the rest of the country, face uncertainties around Covid-19 infection and isolation, and disrupted supply lines. The initial crane lift planned for this coming weekend of 15th and 16th January is deferred and the Railway is awaiting confirmation of a new date from Story.
Chris added: “Possession is now in place for loop, platform 2 and engine line ‘2EL’ but delays with the bridge lift have held back for now possession for the main, platform 1 and ‘1EL’. This may have implications for our activities but we can hopefully work with the contractors locally to ensure we are not disadvantaged by the programme slipping.
“The contractor’s first step has been preparation of the ground for the crane. There is then a programme to prepare for the overnight removal of the bridge and ramps, followed by demolition of the redundant central pillar.”
Already underway elsewhere is the replacement of point timbers identified as part of a Railway-wide survey, and other minor permanent way rectification works at various locations. Drainage works north of Country Park halt are also commencing next week for two weeks using a local contractor, to reduce the cess flooding that has become worse in the last few years.
At present most projects are just getting started, and we’ll have further updates in next month’s Branch Lines.
Before...Sterns on 7th January 2022. Chris Bond
Plant moving train on site at Sterns, and Eagle Plant Hire digger delivered earlier. Matt Robinson
Track at Sterns now lifted on 11th January 2022. Brent Cleeton
Moving times for carriages at Bewdley
On Tuesday 5th January a shunt took place to exchange vehicles in Bewdley down yard. Yard master Clive Thompson and John Chitham have provided Branch Lines with some images and descriptions of the moves.
“Firstly, GWR Collett Kitchen Diner First 9615 was moved out after over four years in the paint shop undergoing a complete bodywork rebuild,” explained Clive, “and it was then moved by Class 08 shunter D3022 to Kidderminster.”
”With the bulk of the bodywork being complete and the interior also restored,” added John, “the decision has been taken to pause the work on 9615.
"There are a number of reasons for this, including the fact that the kitchen design has not been decided, the bogies require overhaul and also there are also higher priority jobs to attend to. The coach has now been returned to store in Kidderminster carriage shed.”
“9615 was replaced in the paint shop by LNER Open Third 43612, for general repairs. 43612 has been out of traffic for a few years due to a leaky roof and poor bodywork. It’s on accommodation bogies so that its own can be mechanically overhauled in Kidderminster Carriage & Wagon works. It is difficult to know how long it will be at Bewdley because the scale of the tasks only starts to be fully apparent when dismantling takes place.”
Clive continued: “Also seen is Bewdley’s resident Ruston and Hornsby diesel shunter 319290 of 1953 (formerly numbered D2957), which then brought GWR Siphon G 1257 into the yard for bodywork repairs.”
Please click on the gallery for fuller images, descriptions and credit
Black Friday success for SVR membership
At the end of November, the SVR Company Limited (the ‘Guarantee Company’) launched a Black Friday short-term deal to encourage new members and renewals by existing members.
The deal meant that every membership, new or renewed (or even renewed early) in the month of December would receive a £10 voucher to use in person on the Railway.
“The promotion has proved to be a hugely successful,” said membership administrator Tori Wakeman. “It’s almost doubled the number of renewals and subscriptions that we would normally expect. The demand has been so strong that we’re awaiting the delivery of more vouchers so that we can send out the remaining orders!
“Please don’t panic if you renewed in December and you’re still waiting for your membership card and voucher. I’m working hard to process these and you’ll receive yours very soon.”
Fresh support for the Charitable Trust
The Charitable Trust is delighted to have welcomed two new members to the team who will provide replacement support for individual giving and communications.
Sue Horsley is no stranger to the SVR having previously worked for seven years at The Engine House, Highley, supporting various requirements including administration and events and standing in as duty manager when needed. After working for a housing association in the interim, she’s delighted to be back at the Railway.
Sue is passionate about ensuring that donors get the best experience and are recognised for generously contributing to important SVR projects.
Loretta Milan has joined as communications manager, working part-time on various projects, particularly sharing the impact at the Railway that comes from grants and donations made through the Charitable Trust. Loretta has more 20 years’ experience in communication roles for a variety of engineering-led companies. Although from an aerospace background, she grew up in a family that’s passionate about steam, and she’s excited to be joining the SVRCT team. Loretta is looking forward to getting out and about, meeting paid and volunteer SVR staff, particularly those who are delivering Charitable Trust-funded projects.
Shelagh Paterson, executive director of the SVRCT, said:
“We are pleased to welcome Sue back to the Railway, having been impressed by the work she carried out at The Engine House. We are also delighted that Loretta is joining us to build on the great work carried out by Lesley Carr before she moved to SVR Holdings. Loretta will enable us to communicate in fresh ways about the impact donations have on the Railway.”
All hands on deck at Bridgnorth
January might be a little early for a spring clean but there’s no time to spare at Bridgnorth MPD as Shed Master Martin White reports:
Everyone at MPD breathed a sigh of relief at the end of the busy 2021 season, as we just about scraped through from a steam loco perspective - albeit with a diesel substitution or two in late December. That operations continued so successfully was down to a fantastic effort made by many people, including early mornings and late nights and when they were actually ‘on holiday’. There was committed work by loco crews, signalmen, operations personnel, loco cleaners, and maintenance staff.
Turning to 2022, you’re probably aware (and if not, where have you been hiding?!) that the Bridgnorth shed roof & crane project will result in the main workshop becoming a construction site for 16 weeks during the summer. The first part of this project is well established, with detailed project plans in place, which are regularly monitored, reviewed and adjusted. The second part is now starting to gather momentum; this will see the complete emptying of the shed and the surrounding areas in order to give the selected contractors the space they need to completely reclad the building and put in the foundations for the overhead crane.
With the exception of one or two large machine tools, and fixed infrastructure (lifting jacks and wheel drop), absolutely everything else will have to be removed from the shed; locos, work benches, tools, cupboards, racks full of nuts, bolts, washers, spare parts, ladders and access equipment - even the existing lighting which will be in the way of an overhead travelling crane. Imagine clearing out a garden shed, workshop or garage, but multiply it a thousand-fold!
Work is already underway, notably by members of the Western Locomotive Association. To allow access to the side cladding at the west side of the shed, they have commenced the mammoth task of emptying two shipping containers full of class 52 diesel loco spares.
Meanwhile, volunteers from Bridgnorth’s ‘Wailing Wall Construction Company’ (station maintenance and building team), have been working weekends and midweek, on some small-scale construction works (laying concrete in one area and breaking it out in others.) These are vital pre-requisites to be completed before the main contractor’s work commences in May. It’s interesting to note that some of these same volunteers helped with the construction of the shed in the first place, more than 46 years ago.
The SVR Charitable Trust’s Home & Dry fundraising appeal remains open as further funding is still required to see the job through to completion: www.svrtrust.org.uk/home-and-dry-donation
Our gallery shows what the roof & crane project will ultimately support. Here's a selection of images from our photographers' group of the current operating fleet on Christmas and Festive services. Please click on the gallery for fuller images, descriptions and credit
There’s still time to ‘rename a loco’
Entries have been pouring in for the SVR’s competition to rename a steam locomotive in honour of The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, and there’s still time to add your idea to the mix!
The name change will be temporary, but will be honoured with authentically-cast iron plates, and will help the SVR celebrate 2022’s major events; the Queen’s Jubilee which takes place in June, and the Commonwealth Games which will be held in Birmingham starting in late July.
More than 800 entries have already been received, and they’ve been submitted from as far afield as Australia, Thailand, Europe and the USA! After the competition closes on 7th February, a shortlist will be drawn up and put to a public vote.
To enter your suggested name in the competition, just go to svr.co.uk and enter your details. The winner of the competition will receive a VIP invite to the naming ceremony.
Maintaining the down distant signal at Hampton Loade
Before the Christmas services started, the midweek signal and telegraph (S&T) maintenance team took on the down distant signal at Hampton Loade, using the Railway’s mobile elevated work platform (MEWP).
A previous site visit identified two issues in addition to the regular cleaning, oiling and greasing. The cable feeding the signal position proving contacts, located at the top of the signal pole, needed re-terminating, plus there was significant deterioration of the rubber insulation around the cores in the five-core signal cable.
Volunteer Brian Graystone told Branch Lines: “The cable carries both the signal repeating circuits and the signal lamp supply. We disconnected the cable from the contact box and removed the perished rubber insulation.
The wires feeding the signal lamp were particularly badly perished inside the lamp case, with bare copper cable cores exposed. Had the cores had touched each other this could have caused lamp failure, a potential safety issue to trains in poor light conditions.”
“We wrapped each cable core in self-amalgamating tape to protect the rubber insulation from further damage from the elements, and the cable was then re-terminated to the contact box and the bulb inside the lamp case. Back in the signal box, team member Dan Salter confirmed the signal position indications in the box were working correctly and he was also able to operate the signal lamp, which we confirmed was working at the signal.”
The faulty cable will be replaced at a future visit; this will involve running a new cable from the adjacent cabinet up the signal post to the contact box and lamp case.
Brian added: “When we removed the lid of the signal motor gearbox water poured out - that isn’t good! The door seal will be replaced at the next visit. And inside the lamp case we found two very large wasps, thankfully both dead!”
The MEWP is proving to be a useful asset to the Railway. Without it the team could not have completed the maintenance and repairs so quickly and safely.
Please click on the gallery for fuller images, descriptions and credit
Preparing to be Home & Dry
As reported elsewhere in this month’s Branch Lines, practical preparations have begun to ensure the desperately-needed improvements to the Bridgnorth locomotive works can be delivered to a high standard and on budget.
Following the success of the Falling Sands Viaduct restoration, and as part of improved management of key capital projects, the project team put out a tender for four contracts covering civil engineering, roofing, electrical works, and crane installation.
Executive director of the Charitable Trust Shelagh Paterson told Branch Lines:
“Competitive bids have been received from all the shortlisted companies and the project team is now carrying out detailed evaluations before awarding the final key contract for civil engineering. There has been a particular focus on ensuring each of the contractors are able to deliver the requirements effectively and safely in a live working environment. With the Railway so close to achieving the full fundraising target, if you’re in a position to do so, please help us ensure the project has all the funds it needs to start on time by donating to the Home and Dry Fund.”
To make a donation, please visit: www.svrtrust.org.uk/home-and-dry-donation
Please click on the gallery for fuller images, descriptions and credit
Whistling away through Christmas
On 3rd January, 40106 ‘Atlantic Conveyor’ ran round and shunted her stock at Kidderminster. This last movement of stock for the 2021 season marked an end of another busy nine-day stint, and a rollercoaster month of mixed emotions.
Pre- and post-Christmas services threw up a few issues affecting at times locomotives 1501, 34027 Taw Valley and 75069. In addition to her own rostered turns, 40106 acted as a Thunderbird on 1st January when both 1501 and 34027 suffered problems in service. Having completed her own diagram, she stepped in to complete the last run, minimising disruption and delays. She also covered to first turn on 2nd January.
The loco is one of the ‘Whistlers’ owned by the Class Forty Preservation Society (CFPS) and has been maintained at Kidderminster TMD by SVR-based CFPS members. Support crew member Jonathan Wilcox told Branch Lines: “The gremlins also reached 40106 which on 10th December suffered an electrical failure of the AVR (automatic voltage regulator.) This had the knock-on effect of damaging other electrical components and rendered the locomotive unable to restart once shut down. Some replacement components had to be purchased by the CFPS, as well as items collected from the stores at the home base at the East Lancashire Railway.”
Thanks to a Herculean team effort, the loco was repaired, started up and certified as fit for traffic on 23rd December, all within two weeks of the initial failure.
This steam-heat fitted workhorse has proved invaluable since the SVR hired her in 2018, initially for a 12-month period. Jonathan added: “40106 was not the initial choice. She was only intended to visit the SVR for 'a few months' to cover for 40135, and as a recent purchase by the CFPS was a relative 'unknown entity' compared to the preferred machine.
“That has turned into three-and-a-half years and over 9,000 miles at the SVR, and every time she has left Kidderminster in that time, she has got herself home. I believe that there have only been 17 days in that time where she could not feasibly have been started up and driven off shed to work a train (although boiler issues meant she did indeed miss work when steam heat was a necessity, whilst remaining a runner.) All in all, we are very proud of her. A phenomenal locomotive.”
Please click on the gallery for fuller images, descriptions and credit
The SVR is shortlisted for two Visit Worcestershire awards
The Railway has been shortlisted in two categories for the 2021/22 Visit Worcestershire awards. It is being recognised not only as a ‘large visitor attraction’ but also for its ‘resilience and innovation’.
The winners of each category will then go on to compete in the Visit England awards, with the chance of being recognised at a national level.
The Visit Worcestershire awards ceremony will take place at Stanbrook Abbey Worcester on Friday 11th March. Fingers crossed!
As a large visitor attraction, the SVR holds many events, and there are plans for two model railway weekends in 2022. This image is from a previous event at Kidderminster. Mike Anderson.
Destination: Severn Valley!
The Severn Valley Railway is once more proving itself a destination, with main line tours set to arrive at (and depart from) Bridgnorth in 2022.
Three trains are currently scheduled for 2022. The White Rose, a fully steam-hauled service, will depart Bridgnorth bright and early on April 6th. Picking up passengers at Bewdley, Kidderminster, Stourbridge Junction, Walsall, and Tamworth, the service then crosses through Derbyshire to the East Coast Main Line (ECML) and on to York.
A few weeks later on the April 27th, the Severn Valley Enterprise will bring passengers from north Wales, Cheshire, and Staffordshire to the SVR. This unusual journey departs from Llandudno, and offers passengers a three-hour break, to enjoy Bridgnorth. Both of these offerings are promoted by Saphos Trains.
The third train on offer is The Severn Valley Deltic, promoted by Intercity Trains. Departing from Newcastle-upon-Tyne on October 12th, this Class 55 Deltic-hauled charter will accommodate passengers in a rake of first class Mark 3 InterCity carriages. Passengers will travel south down the ECML (former home to the Deltics) before heading through Chesterfield to Water Orton, taking passengers along a freight-only line en route to the Severn Valley.
“The support of these charter companies shows that the SVR is once again proving itself to be a desirable destination for excursion trains,” said the SVR’s managing director Helen Smith. “We’re also fully equipped to act as a departure point. This is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the SVR team.”
34027 Taw Valley on Eardington Bank with Saphos Trains railtour 7th October 2020. Ian Slater
55022 Royal Scots Grey, running as 55018 Ballymoss, approaches Crossing Cottage on the afternoon of the 9th May 2017. Ian Murray. This year will see the much-awaited return to passenger service of D9000 ‘Royal Scots Grey’ after its extensive refurbishment programme.
Operations focus on testing, supporting, restoring normality
The winter closure period means a change in emphasis for the operations department. As well as supporting the infrastructure works at Sterns (see separate article) there will be some further testing and, as you’ll read below further moves back towards ‘normality’ for 2022 passenger services.
Testing will earn useful revenue until passenger services resume, as operations manager Matt Robinson told Branch Lines:
“Bayer weedkilling trains 2 and 3 (see December’s edition) are due on the Railway for testing in the coming weeks, and planning work for this is currently underway. They will undergo similar testing to that undergone by train 1 in November. We also expect other testing in due course, with details still being confirmed.
“Meanwhile, Bayer train 1 departed for Bescot on 29th December, with GBRf supplying none other than 66763 'Severn Valley Railway' for the job, which was nice of them!”
The returning normality comes courtesy of changes in the Railway’s carriage sets. “We had almost completed reforming our carriage sets for 2022,” continued Matt. “Then the planned line possessions took effect at Kidderminster. We’ve returned the sets, with the odd tweak, to their pre-Covid configurations, giving a mixture of side corridor and vestibule stock in each of sets C (BR Mark 1 carmine and cream), M (BR Mark 1 maroon), N (LNER teaks) and L (LMS maroon). Thanks to everyone who helped with this important task.”
It seems a long time ago now that the SVR put vehicles from different sets into mixed rakes back in 2020, in response to Covid-19 restrictions. This made the most of side corridor stock and allowed passengers to book a designated compartment. Although ‘hop on hop off’ trains returned in September 2021, this was the first opportunity the Railway has had to return coaches to their designated sets.
Photo: GBRf's 66763 Severn Valley Railway at Bewdley on 29th December 2021, waiting to take the Bayer weedkilling train off the SVR. Rob Green
Caring for the future of the Railway
January is a time when many look ahead to the future. For many this may include thinking beyond their lifetime to the legacy they can leave to the next generation. When making a will, providing for loved ones is naturally a main priority. However, once this is taken care of, many leave a gift to a cause close to their heart, and the Severn Valley Railway has been fortunate enough to receive legacies over the years that have helped preserve this heritage gem.
Margaret Flint is one of those who has chosen to leave a legacy to the SVR. “It’s important to me to know that the SVR will be there for young people in the future. Once I saw an elderly gent holding up his baby grandchild for a photo in front of one of the locos. The sheer delight on his face, and the connection between the generations, has stayed with me ever since. I’m happy to know that by leaving a legacy I’m doing something to keep the Railway going.”
Richard James believes it is vital to encourage young people to be interested in heritage rail and hopes his legacy will achieve that. “The SVR has given a lot to me, and I want to give something back. I live too far away to be a volunteer, but the Railway has a special place in my heart, especially Highley which reminds me so much of a happy childhood at Much Wenlock where my father was station master in the 1950s. It really matters to me to know it’s going to carry on. Training apprentices in the Heritage Apprenticeship Scheme is the foundation of taking the Railway forward, and I love to see young people volunteering when I visit.”
Sue Chance, one of the Charitable Trust’s fundraising managers, said:
“Leaving a gift in your will is a thoughtful gesture that can make a big difference to the Railway’s future. Almost half of the £1.2 million it’s costing to restore the flagship locomotive 4930 Hagley Hall was provided by gifts in wills. Additionally, £120,000 of emergency funding to repair the damage caused by a landslip at Sterns, between Hampton Loade and Bridgnorth, and up to half of the annual funding for the Heritage Apprenticeship Scheme, which trains SVR’s engineers of the future, comes from supporters leaving a gift in their will.”
A recent short film from the Charitable Trust looks at why people decide to leave a gift in their will and explains the impact that legacies can have at the Railway. The film and a brochure with more information can be viewed at www.svrtrust.org.uk/Gifts-in-Wills
For more information, or to discuss leaving a legacy to the SVR, please contact Sue Chance, fundraising manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4930 Hagley Hall outside Bridgnorth locomotive works on 15th December 2021, being moved to the paintshop. Credit Friends of Locomotive 4930 Hagley Hall
Apprentice Jack Kerswill installing patch screws inside 4150's boiler
Passing the baton
Like a number of the SVR’s early volunteer drivers, John Price stepped down from footplate duties in 2021, but in John’s case, this brought to a close a career of nearly 60 years on the footplate and more than a million miles in steam.
John had had an interest in railways from a very early age, spending family holidays in Weymouth riding on the engines that were working on the quay. He started his career with BR in 1962 at the age of 15, describing his first day as, ‘quite daunting’ but John was clearly not at all put off: 60 years later he describes himself as still as enthusiastic as ever.
John’s career saw him start as a cleaner at Tyseley, eventually making his way up to fireman before steam was replaced with diesels. During this period John was reclassified as a second man, whilst still firing steam specials. After a brief stint as a guard, he returned to the sharp end and was promoted to diesel driver at Saltley Depot.
In March 1975, John joined the SVR’s motive power department and was a fireman before being made up to a driver, regularly driving both steam and diesel engines on the Railway. During this time, he continued to work for BR, and later on the privatized railway, working out of Worcester Depot. Thanks to a lack of steam drivers available for steam specials on the mainline, and both John’s previous experience of main line steam and present experience as a steam driver on the SVR, he was passed out as a driver of main line steam. John was privileged to be able to drive many different steam locomotives around Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, and Oxfordshire, including A4s, Castles, BR standards and the GWR Mogul.
John’s final day on the footplate on the 22nd December 2021 was captured by the SVR’s own film crew, including exclusive interviews with John himself. John retiring is the end of an era but like so many of his fellow BR colleagues, he has passed on his knowledge to others, to maintain the highest possible railway standards.
As one of a handful of drivers who have driven steam on both main line and heritage railways, John will continue to be involved with the Railway, but will now concentrate more time on his other passion- 1940s events, and his wife of 21 years, Debbie.
A gallery of festive diesels
The Railway’s Christmas services included diesels on Steam in Lights, and its Festive services saw a diesel diagram with steam-heat fitted 40106 Atlantic Conveyor. With staff trains, infrastructure and other workings, the diesel fleet has been remarkably active. Our contributing photographers have been busy, and we hope you enjoy this gallery of images.
Keep an eye open for the March issue of Railways Illustrated magazine, to be published on 3rd February, which will carry a stunning feature article by its editor Andy Coward.
Andy recently visited the award-winning Kidderminster Diesel Depot to find out more about the facility. It includes considerable input from SVR (Holdings) director and chair of the SVR diesel committee, Jonathan Dunster. You can also order from the Railways Illustrated website https://www.railwaysillustrated.com/.
Please click on the gallery for fuller images, descriptions and credits
V1 13th January 2022
V2 14th January 2022, swapped Deltic image for Class 25
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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.