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July 2024

LMS Mogul 13268 with the GW Set running off Oldbury Viaduct on the 1940s weekend KEVIN WHI
LMS Mogul 13268 with the GW Set running off Oldbury Viaduct on the 1940s weekend. KEVIN WHITEHURST

Welcome to your latest edition of Branch lines!

Across the Railway, we’re dusting ourselves down after the buzz of the 1940s weekends, and gearing up for the peak summer holiday season, when we expect to welcome tens of thousands of families to the wonderful SVR. 

Our lead stories this month focus on guest announcements for both the autumn steam and diesel events, and we report back from the AGM and the very popular and successful Supporters’ Day event in June. 

Also in your July Branch Lines, you’ll find news from across the whole Railway, including some positive news from Eardington after the station break-in, a curious tale of bees at Bewdley, a final farewell to the Parry People Mover and a heartfelt plea to all men of a certain age from head of infrastructure Chris Bond. 

It was lovely to hear from reader Nigel Lindsay, who lives at some distance: ‘Because I live 300 miles away, I can only visit the SVR occasionally, and so it's wonderful to be kept in touch with all aspects of the line through this excellent newsletter. It is well written, entertaining, and makes me look forward to my next trip to Kidderminster!’ 

Thanks Nigel, and thanks to everyone who takes the time to get in touch. We’re very much looking forward to seeing you soon!  

Lesley Carr, editor

The Branch Linnes team is Gary Essex, Karen Crick, Amy Baker, Pete Cherry and
Nicola Fox.

Next edition Thursday 12th August

What's new?

Jubilee joy for the Autumn Steam Gala 

45596 'Bahamas'. KENNY FELSTEAD.jpg

It’s been confirmed that LMS Jubilee No 45596 ‘Bahamas’ will be joining the line-up at the four-day Autumn Steam Gala between 19 and 22 September. 

‘This locomotive is set to be a big attraction at our event,’ said managing director Gus Dunster, ‘and we're very excited that it's coming. 'Bahamas' hasn't been to the SVR since our Spring Steam Gala in 1994, so we reckon we're definitely due a return visit! We're extremely grateful to the Bahamas Locomotive Society for agreeing to the visit.  

‘And let's not forget that another Jubilee class locomotive played a very important role at the SVR 40 years ago - it was LMS 5690 'Leander' that hauled the very first passenger service from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster on 30 July 1984, when we opened Kidderminster Town station to the public. We’re celebrating the anniversary of that momentous day next month, across the weekend of 27 and 28 July.’  

Built in 1934 in Glasgow, the engine, originally numbered as 5596, was one of the Jubilee class which eventually totalled 191. Only four survive and ‘Bahamas’ is unique amongst these as it’s the only one to have a double chimney. 

This feature was intended to improve overall performance, which was not helped by the often poor-quality post-war coal. The concept was developed in the 1940s but it wasn’t until 1961 that ‘Bahamas’ was fitted with a double chimney. 

The Jubilee joins fellow-guest 2999 ‘Lady of Legend’, also confirmed recently, and further guest announcements are expected in due course. Amongst the home fleet expected to take part in the event are LMS Mogul 13268, GWR 4930 ‘Hagley Hall’, GWR Pannier Tank 7714 and BR Standard 75069. 

The event will feature early morning and late evening services, with non-stop expresses, goods trains and double-headers. Tickets and further information are available at svr.co.uk. 

Locomotive No. 45596 'Bahamas'. KENNY FELSTEAD

Class 25 will be ‘perfect guest’ for Autumn Diesel Bash

The Railway has confirmed that it has reached agreement for Class 25 No 25262 to make a guest appearance, subject to availability, at the Autumn Diesel Bash between 3 and 6 October.  

Traditionally, the SVR has taken a lower-key approach for this event, focussing on its home fleet.

 

But this year, it’s striking out with this early guest announcement, determined to maintain its reputation as a leading enthusiast venue. 

 

‘We’ve seen very strong event performances since last year,’ said managing director Gus Dunster, ‘And this applies to both our steam and diesel enthusiast events. We think we’re onto a winning streak, and this gives us the confidence to up the ante for our autumn event, with this exciting announcement.  

Class 25 No 25262 will appear at the SVRs Autumn Diesel Bash. PHIL SEYMOUR.jpg

‘We get more requests for Class 25s than anything else from our supporters, and that tells us this little engine will be the perfect guest for our event. Its relatively small size means it’s also supremely suited to working a preserved line, and of course, there aren’t many Class 25s in operation these days, so there’s added rarity value. 

‘We’re extremely grateful to South Devon Diesel Traction, based at Buckfastleigh on the South Devon Railway, for agreeing to 25262’s appearance. This particular locomotive hasn’t been to us since 2011, and in fact we’ve not had any Class 25 visits for five years now, so this really will be special. 

‘This isn’t the whole story about the Autumn Diesel Bash either. There’s something else in the offing, and all being well, we’ll be making a further announcement in the coming weeks.’ 

More information and tickets for the Autumn Diesel Bash are at svr.co.uk.  

Class 25 No 25262 will appear at the SVRs Autumn Diesel Bash. PHIL SEYMOUR 

2023 was a ‘reset’ year and the SVR must ‘keep focus’ in 2024 

Chris Walton 3.jpg

At Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) Plc’s 52nd Annual General Meeting on Saturday 22 June, chairman Chris Walton explained that the ‘commercial turmoil’ of 2022 had continued into 2023, and the Railway had needed to make substantial cost savings. He went on to speak about the many successes the SVR had achieved during the year. 

‘This has effectively been a year in which we reset what we were doing on the Railway,’ said Chris, ‘to stabilise it for the future and to provide the foundation on which we can rebuild. Managing costs has been a key strategy, alongside that of diversifying our core business and also widening our commercial portfolio to ensure the Railway is more resilient. 

‘The first five months of 2024 have shown how strong these foundations have been, but we must keep our focus, as this is going to be a long project to ensure the Railway’s survival.  

‘Other railways are following our lead. This is a widespread problem, not unique to the SVR, nor indeed to the heritage rail sector.

 

Economic circumstances have changed around all businesses, but in particular for those dependent upon discretionary spend.’ 

Chris went on to point out the many successes the SVR had seen in 2023, including record-breaking steam and diesel enthusiast events, the addition of the first-ever winter mini-events and the completion of phase one of the Bridgnorth Yard refurbishment project. Dining experiences returned and the post-Covid backlog of footplate experiences was cleared. 

He also referred to the way in which the SVR has diversified its commercial relationships with main-line rail companies, culminating in a landmark partnership and collaboration agreement between the SVR and Network Rail.   

Supporters’ Day Success 

The day before the 2024 AGM, the Railway put on a special event to thank its close supporters. An invitation had gone out to shareholders, members and Charitable Trust patrons and guardians, and more than 1,300 visited for what proved to be a ‘universally positive’ day out. 

There was an intensive timetable and special behind-the-scenes tours available. 

 

‘We saw a tangible positive vibe across the whole Railway,’ said managing director Gus Dunster. ‘Once again, we were able to showcase the SVR at its very best, this time to those people who actively support what we do. We even managed to lay on some fabulous summer weather too! 

 

‘Feedback received has been universally positive, so I think we can confidently say 'mission accomplished'! I would like to thank everyone across the Railway who was involved in planning and hosting our first Supporters’ Day. Thanks too, to everyone who came along to share the day with us. It was really appreciated.’ 

 

Branch Lines is grateful to all the photographers who captured the Supporters’ Day event for our gallery of pictures.  

SVR wins another top tourism rating 

Ratings and reviews on TripAdvisor put the SVR in the top 10 per cent of visitor attractio

The Railway is celebrating after winning a prestigious Traveller’s Choice award, for the fifth year in a row, from the leading online tourism platform TripAdvisor.

 

These awards are only given to the top 10% of visitor attractions around the world, and are based on reviews and ratings earned over the previous year. 

‘It means a huge amount to secure this accolade once again,’ said visitor engagement manager Lewis Maddox. ‘Millions of people across the world rely on TripAdvisor when making their decisions about where to go and what to visit. For us to be right up there with the world’s leading brands is testament to the hard work and dedication of our staff, both paid and volunteer, who go the extra mile to make sure our visitors have a great day out.’  

Other News

SVR says 'Allo 'Allo! to another 1940s success 

The SVR’s Step Back to the 1940s weekend events on 29-30 June and 6-7 July have proved to be a great success, with visitors enjoying many attractions along the line.  

 
As well as the decorated stations, intensive services and costumed re-enactors, the Railway welcomed several members of the cast from the popular 1980s BBC sitcom 'Allo 'Allo! Herr Flick, Helga, Lieutenant Gruber, Officer Crabtree and Flying Officer Carstairs were posted to The Engine House at Highley, where they signed autographs and posed for photographs with visitors.  
 

Co-chair of the event, David Brattan, commented, ‘This year's event has been a huge success, with well in excess of 6,000 visitors across the two weekends. If it hadn’t been for the bad weather and the England Euros match during the second weekend, the numbers would have been even higher! On behalf of the committee, we’d like to express our thanks to all the staff and volunteers who help operate the Railway during the event which saw huge numbers of visitors, especially on the first weekend.’ 

 

Paul Bowler, the other co-chair, added ‘Alongside the hugely popular cast of 'Allo 'Allo! we had a large number of singers adding a great atmosphere to the Railway, and entertainment from many costumed re-enactors including policemen, shopkeepers, the Rt Hon Winston Churchill and a group of evacuees.’  

Branch Lines is grateful to all the photographers who captured the 'Back to the 1940s' event for our gallery of pictures.  

Real ale, steam and diesel make a winning combination 

June’s Mixed Traction and Real Ale event proved very successful, with around 1,400 passengers visiting across the weekend. Both days featured busy timetables, with eight full returns on the Saturday and seven on the Sunday. 

 

The Engine House beer festival was a big draw, offering a wide range of beers and ciders. 

 

Haulage came from 4930 ‘Hagley Hall’, Stanier Mogul 13268, plus 37263, 20048 and D1062 ‘Western Courier’. 

 

The three-car DMU provided shuttle services between Kidderminster, Bewdley and Highley, after making a full-line morning trip from Bridgnorth at the start of the day, returning at the end of the day. 

 

Our gallery of photos gives a flavour of the weekend! Many thanks to our photographers for providing these.  

SVR's first electric traction arrives 

The SVR is now operating two electric vans, as it took delivery of the vehicles last month, on a lease arrangement. They’re being used by the signal and telegraph (S&T) and electrical departments.  

More electric vehicles are now on order and the aim is to have most of the company road vehicles electric-powered by the end of 2024. New charging points have been installed at Kidderminster, and another will go in at The Engine House in the coming weeks.  

New SVR electric vans. PAUL INGRAM 

New SVR electric vans. Credit Paul Ingram.jpg

Network Rail volunteer day

As part of the landmark partnership agreement with Network Rail, a volunteering day for NR employees took place at Kidderminster and Bridgnorth on 13 June. Network Rail, like many employers, arrange paid volunteer-days for their staff every year. 

Fifteen NR staff from various Midlands locations undertook a variety of tasks. At Bridgnorth, they helped the MPD linish the tender on 43106, cleaned locos and assisted in the signal box. At Kidderminster, they cleaned carriages, helped in the carriage and wagon works stripping carriage doors and assisted station staff with platform duties. 

 

The format of the day meant that people of all skill levels could participate, so signalling department and station duties were included along with more manual tasks, as well as giving the volunteers an insight into how the SVR operates. 

 

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, with all the volunteers enjoying their day. The original intention was to rotate volunteers around different jobs but the carriage cleaners at Kidderminster enjoyed their work so much that they stayed on all day!  

 

The volunteer day had two objectives; to assist NR making good use of their volunteering days, and to promote the Railway to NR staff. There are hopes that the day’s success will lead to further future development of the partnership. 

 

The SVR’s volunteer civil engineer Antony Bartlam commented, ‘As a follow-on from this we've already had offers from specialist building teams within Network Rail to help with building projects and infrastructure maintenance, so we're planning further volunteer days and special work-parties to tackle specific projects that we cannot manage ourselves. 

 

‘From the reaction we have had, I'm sure this will become a regular event, with many of those who have already taken part returning, and new volunteers joining in.’  

Click on the gallery for larger images and descriptions..

SVR membership – spread the word!

If you’re reading Branch Lines, there’s a good chance you’re already an SVR member. There are many thousands of SVR members, each playing an important part in supporting the Railway, and each of whom is enjoying the benefits of this close relationship. 

Perhaps you’d help the SVR further by encouraging friends and family to take out membership? Not only would they be helping one of the UK’s leading heritage lines, but they’d also be able to take advantage of the rather nice benefits that come with membership. 

These include up to 33% discount on normal running-day tickets and selected events, plus money off in the Railway’s cafes and shops. They’ll receive the quarterly members’ magazine SVR News, and providing they supply an email address, the SVR will send them Branch Lines in the same way that you receive it. We know how much our readers value this regular update on all things related to the SVR. 

Perhaps SVR membership would make the perfect birthday or Christmas gift for someone who’s tricky to buy for? 

Taking out membership is very easy, and it can all be done online at svr.co.uk/membership.  

SVR membership helps your Railway. TONY CARWITHEN

SVR membership helps your Railway. TONY CARWITHEN.jpg

Male? Over 50? This is for you… 

Chris Bond (on right) on the footplate - his favourite place!.jpg

The SVR’s head of infrastructure, Chris Bond, received a diagnosis of prostate cancer and recently underwent surgery. He wants to highlight the importance for men ‘of a certain age’ to get themselves checked regularly, as early detection means a better chance of successful treatment: 

One in eight men over the age of 50 will contract prostate cancer*, and I hope that by sharing my experience of this insidious disease, I’ll persuade others to be proactive and vigilant. 

My good friend and longstanding SVR volunteer Malcolm Broadhurst told me that he’d been diagnosed with PC and was about to undergo treatment. It had been a few years since my last test, so because of Malcolm’s diagnosis, off to the doctor’s I marched. One simple blood test later, I was horrified to discover my PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen) level was 25 when the normal range is between 0 and 3.  

The most shocking aspect of this was I had absolutely no symptoms – nothing. Yet I was diagnosed with the most aggressive type of PC there is. As you can imagine for someone who has never had much of a brush with the NHS, this was a ‘world upside down’ moment.  

Treatment options were laid before me, and given that the tests had showed the cancer was still contained within the prostate, I elected for removal of the gland. Luckily, one of only two surgeons nationally prepared to carry out this operation works locally.  

A month on from what was major surgery, I have reflected on how lucky I have been in both the detection of the disease and the wonderful surgeon who was prepared to do the work. Recovery is slow but steady, and I’m not out of the woods yet. More tests will be required to determine the efficacy of the surgery, but hopefully with a fair wind I will beat this disease. I am looking forward to returning to work with my sleeves rolled up and back into maintaining our precious SVR. 

So, why am I sharing all this with you? Firstly, I want to encourage all of my male colleagues over 50 across the SVR to consider having regular PSA blood tests done. The earlier any anomalies are detected, the better your chances are for a positive outcome. Don’t forget I had no symptoms, which is why it’s so important to get checked. Speak to your GP about a test. 

Secondly, I want to highlight the NHS. Yes, it’s under pressure, but the people who dedicate their lives to helping others are amongst the best of us. I have met some wonderful people on my journey and thank god for them, as you only realise they are there when you need them. 

Finally, I would like to pay tribute to all the SVR people who have sent good wishes or helped me out, especially our MD Gus Dunster whose support has been inspiring. I look forward to seeing you all again soon.  

*According to Prostate Cancer UK  

What's coming up?

Ride on the footplate of a steam locomotive this summer at the Severn Valley Railway! 

View on the footplate - footplate rides at Bewdley this summer.jpg

The Severn Valley Railway will be making dreams come true over the peak summer holidays with the chance for visitors to travel on a steam locomotive footplate around Bewdley station. 

The 10-minute footplate rides will take place on selected Saturday afternoons and can be booked in advance, or paid for on the day, subject to availability.  

‘We can’t think of anything more exciting than this!’ said Lewis Maddox, the SVR’s visitor engagement manager. ‘After a short and informative safety briefing, you’ll ride alongside the locomotive driver and fireman, experiencing the thrill of seeing a locomotive at work from the best position possible. You’ll even get the chance to blow the whistle!’ 

Footplate riders must be aged at least eight, and an adult must accompany children under 11. Footplate ride experiences cost £15 per person and there are more details and booking information at svr.co.uk.  

Exhibitors sought for 'O Gauge Get Together'

The organisers of the SVR ‘O Gauge Get Together’ are keen to hear from anyone who wants to take part, with either a trade stand, layout or display. They’ve already got plenty lined up for their fourth annual show, taking place at The Engine House, Highley on 19 and 20 October 2024. 

‘We’ve already had nine layouts confirmed,’ said organiser Tom Clarke. ‘These include Stodmarsh, Hillport Goods, The Little Western, Stodden Hundred Light Railway, Newton Heath Works, Newton Grove, East Road, Lapping Works and something as-yet unconfirmed from MIOG Modern Image O Gauge.  

‘Booked traders include Connoisseur Models, Walsworth Models, Finney7, Joe Lock Model Railways, Dapol Ltd, Ellis Clark Trains, PECO Model Railways and Steaming Around Yorkshire.  

‘We have the usual organisers’ raffle with some excellent prizes already offered and our 2024 limited-edition O gauge wagon - more details on these soon.’ 

  
Loco-owning groups the 2857 Society, the 4566 Preservation Group and the Stanier 8F Locomotive Society Limited will also be present, along with the Gauge O Guild Group and Bridgnorth Station with their diorama and loco display.  

 
To take part, please contact tom.clarke@svrlive.com and don’t delay, because it’s filling up rapidly, and a list is already forming for the 2025 show!  

O Gauge Get Together poster.jpg

All aboard for a summer of fun

The Railway has lots of fun family-activities lined up for the summer, alongside the chance for visitors to step back in time to experience the golden age of travel. 

Starting Saturday 20 July through to Sunday 1 September, trains will be running mid-week on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays as well as at weekends.  

Throughout the school summer holidays there’s a packed line-up of interactive exhibits and workshops to discover at The Engine House, Highley. Each week, activities will include fete games, science shows, magic shows, mini golf and a giant train set. 

 

Summer of fun is on at The Engine House on selected dates from 20 July to 1 September. Visit the website to see the weekly line-up of activities. Summer Family Fun | Severn Valley Railway (svr.co.uk) 

For families with youngsters, why not head to Bridgnorth on 31 July, for A Wizard’s Birthday? The picturesque town will transform into a magical realm, as it comes together to celebrate the birthday of the beloved literary character, Harry Potter. A Wizard's Birthday In Bridgnorth | Severn Valley Railway (svr.co.uk) 

And if building with bricks is your thing, you won’t want to miss the UK LEGO train club (LUKR) for a weekend of LEGO fun at The Engine House, Highley. With LEGO models from amateur builders across the country, and some of the UK’s largest LEGO train displays on show, this will be a must-visit for LEGO fans of all ages. Brick weekend takes place on 3-4 August; find out more at: Brick Weekend | Severn Valley Railway (svr.co.uk)   

Coming up at the Railway very soon! 

Next week, the SVR Day of Dance takes over on Saturday 20 July. 

Get ready for a toe-tapping mini-festival with Morris Dancing groups from far and wide, who’ll be performing at stations along the line. Amongst the guests are Castle Clog and the Pennyroyal Garland Dancers.  

For performance times and venues, check the event page on svr.co.uk

 

The Vintage Transport Extravaganza bursts into life across a whole weekend, as the SVR welcomes vehicles from all eras to each station on Saturday 10 and Sunday 11 August. 

If you like vintage vehicles, own a classic car, or have always dreamed of owning a traction engine, then the Railway is the place to visit this August. Vehicles will be on display between 10am and 4pm. 

More information at svr.co.uk.  

Day of Dance at Arley Station on the Severn Valley Railway.  MARTIN BANNISTER

Engines at Kidderminster during the vintage transport extravaganza on 12th August 2023. KEITH WILKINSON

40 years for Kidderminster Town station

Kidderminster Town station opened officially on 30 July 1984, and the railway will be marking this occasion, 40 years on, with a celebratory weekend of attractions on 27 and 28 July. This will include a recreation of the first train hauled by 4930 ‘Hagley Hall ‘along with modern classic-vehicle and model-railway displays.  

 

The brand-new sign at the front of the station will be unveiled. Kidderminster signal box and carriage works will be open for tours, and a special exhibition on the story of the station will open in Kidderminster Railway Museum. 

 

There’ll be an intensive timetable, along with brake-van rides. For more information and tickets, visit svr.co.uk.  

Scene at Kidderminster on the day of opening in 1984. BARRIE GEENS

Ticket queue at the temporary Kidderminster Town booking office in 1984.

Across the Railway

Eardington looks to the future after being targeted by thieves 

Since thieves struck at Eardington station in mid-April, stealing heritage lamps and tools, the team has been improving security and reviewing the future of the historic lamp room. Additionally, they’ve been heartened by an overwhelming show of support from the public. 

Stationmaster Steve Downs says he felt he had to review the entire scope of the lamp collection following the burglary. 

‘Previously, we put on eclectic displays featuring a wide range of railway lighting, but we now realise that some of our lamps were highly sought-after. Sadly, this must have attracted the wrong kind of attention.

 

Going forward, we will be very careful to limit our collection to the more ordinary and less-collectable lamps, concentrating on those which would have been in use at a typical small GWR country station.’  

Volunteers Steve Downs and Phil Harris enjoying the Supporters Day buzz at Eardington LESL

The generosity of donors, however, has cheered the Eardington team after this very upsetting episode. Volunteer lampman Phil Harris was amazed at the response to the publicity.

‘Within a few hours of the news of the break-in being aired on local TV and radio, the Railway started receiving kind offers of donations from well-wishers to replace the stolen lamps, and we have gratefully accepted a number of items.

‘However I was particularly delighted with three separate generous donations of tools to replace many of those that were stolen, meaning that I can continue with the restoration and maintenance of lamps at the station.’

Volunteers Steve Downs and Phil Harris enjoying the Supporters' Day buzz at Eardington. LESLEY CARR

Operation bee-sting at Bewdley

For many years, a colony of honeybees had lived in the cavity of the old lineman’s hut at Bewdley, and everyone had happily coexisted. However, as S&T team leader Matthew Morgan told Branch Lines, it couldn’t last for ever. 

‘The bees had started to come further down the wall, and we now have a team member who is allergic to bee stings. It was time for the bees to be rehomed, and we needed some expert assistance.’ 

One evening last month, local beekeeper Dave Hodges came to the rescue, along with Theresa Harrington-Taylor, a volunteer at Arley station, who is also a trainee beekeeper. 

S&T staff borrowed protective bee suits to dismantle the wall so that Dave and Theresa were able to take away as much as possible of the hive and the bees.

 

They then replaced the wall, with the whole operation taking almost five hours. 

‘Dave told us he reckoned the hive was home to around 200,000 bees!’ said Matthew. ‘I’m very grateful both to the S&T staff who worked late and the beekeepers who gave their services free of charge.

 

It’s good to know we saved many thousands of useful pollinators, and even harvested two jars of honey!’  

Click on the gallery for larger images and descriptions..

Stanier 8F recruitment drive 

The Stanier 8F Locomotive Society, owners of 8F no 48773, are holding several weekend recruitment drives, as they seek new members to take an active part in the ongoing story of this well-travelled and unique locomotive.  

Built by North British in Glasgow in 1940, the loco has worked in Iran and Egypt as well as Scotland and the north of England and the Longmoor Military Railway. It arrived at the SVR straight after withdrawal in 1968, operating services on the Railway as well as the main line.  

The group is holding further ‘Meet the Engine’ events over the coming months, when they’ll open up the footplate of the loco to visitors in The Engine House. These will take place on the 10/11 August, 21/22 September and 19/20 October. 

The loco has been out of service awaiting overhaul since 2008, but the Society intends to return it to working order. To enable this, they want to boost the active membership, especially with younger adults. Discounted membership fees will be available on the day and junior membership fees apply for under 25s. 

For more information, please visit www.8fsociety.co.uk   

48773 on a freight train crossing Entwistle Viaduct, June 1968. FRANK CRONIN

48773 at Bridgnorth, 2004, carrying original War Dept identity as No 307.  BILL NORTHROP

If you don’t ask… 

Milk churn donated to the 08 Group ALAN READE.jpg

Last month, Branch Lines, and its sister e-newsletter Branch Lines, carried an appeal from the 08 Group. They were seeking a vintage milk churn to adapt as a sturdy donation pot following the theft of their previous cash box. Amazingly, an offer arrived within an hour of publication! 

‘Many thanks for publicising our appeal,’ said 08 Group member Trev Tomkins. ‘To get an offer this quickly really was surprising, and is what I call excellent service. We’re very grateful for the donation.’ 

It was longstanding supporter Alan Reade who came to the rescue. Alan is well-known for his SVR-related paintings, many of which have appeared on cards, posters and calendars. 

‘This heavy steel milk churn is inscribed “J P Thomas, Bewdley” and it’s been in my greenhouse for about 40 years,’ Alan told Branch Lines. ‘I’m pleased to have found a good home for it.’  

Milk churn donated to the 08 Group. ALAN READE

Celebrating Excellence in Food Safety and Hygiene 

Both The Engine House and Bridgnorth have achieved the impressive milestone of gaining 5-star ratings after visits from the Environmental Health Office (EHO). 

Visitor experience manager Nicky Freeman said, ‘This outstanding achievement is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our teams in maintaining the highest standards of food safety and hygiene. The EHO's rigorous inspections verify that our facilities meet the strict guidelines set by the local authorities, ensuring a safe and healthy environment for our customers and employees. 

‘I am incredibly proud of our teams' commitment to excellence and would like to extend my gratitude to each and every team member for their tireless efforts.’  

The much-coveted top Environmental Health 5-star rating at The Engine House.jpg

Visit England: SVR is ‘commended for its ongoing improvement’ 

VisitEngland commendation copy.jpg

A comprehensive assessment by VisitEngland took place recently, with the Railway achieving an impressive overall quality score of 88%. This represents a 5% increase since the last evaluation in 2022.  

The assessment report praised the SVR’s commitment to excellence, noting, ‘The Severn Valley Railway is commended for its ongoing improvement of the visitor experience.’ 

Nicky Freeman, visitor experience manager, said ‘This outstanding achievement is a testament to the tireless efforts of everyone along the line, who consistently strive to elevate the visitor experience. 

‘I would like to extend my gratitude to our loyal customers and staff for their valuable feedback, which has been instrumental in driving our continuous improvement initiatives. We are excited to build on this success and continue to deliver an exceptional experience for all our visitors in the future.’  

VisitEngland's accoloade, gained by the SVR for 2024.jpg

Rolling stock

A fresh ‘new’ look for the Bridgnorth Ruston 

It had been several years since the last repaint of the Ruston 0-4-0 shunter at Bridgnorth, which is normally kept by the boiler shop, and the time had come to seize an opportunity and ring the changes. 

 

BR owned two similar Ruston shunters, numbered 11507 and 11508, which were later renumbered D2957 and D2958.  None of the SVR’s Rustons were ever owned by BR, but the railway has given several of them numbers in continuation of the BR number series.  The Bridgnorth-based loco therefore received the number D2961 soon after its arrival in 1980, which was appropriate for the chosen green paintwork.  

 

Head of steam engineering Duncan Ballard realised there was a window of opportunity in May for a repaint of the Ruston at Bridgnorth by resident paid-staff painter Ronan O’Brien and his team, but suggested that this time it be painted black.  

Ruston DE165 11511 at Bridgnorth after its repaint. PETE CHERRY.jpg

‘I readily agreed to this,’ said the shunter’s owner (and member of the Branch Lines team) Pete Cherry, ‘and I reminded Duncan that when painted black, the equivalent ‘old’ number of 11511 would be appropriate. 

 

‘To quote the email from Duncan to me on 23rd May, “Fresh out of the paintshop today – hope you are as happy with the outcome as we are?” My answer was a definite “yes”!’  

Ruston DE165 11511 at Bridgnorth after its repaint. PETE CHERRY

43612 is ‘a credit to the team’

Twenty-five volunteers have dedicated their heritage skills and more than 6,000 hours to the restoration of the LNER Gresley teak carriage 43612 at Bewdley; the result was a joy to witness at the roll-out of the carriage from the paintshop on 3 July. 

A crowd of more than 50 guests gathered for the occasion, which included many of the volunteers involved in this meticulously executed project, as well as SVR directors, SVR Charitable Trust trustees and members of the press. The carriage is owned by the SVR Charitable Trust, which has contributed funds from a supporter's legacy to its restoration. 

‘It looks amazing,’ said managing director Gus Dunster. ‘And is a credit to the team involved, with leadership from Colin Astbury. They have a clear passion to keep these heritage skills alive. I can’t thank them enough for their efforts.’ 

Martin Turbutt, a member of paid staff at Bewdley, explained more about the details of work carried out: 

‘We’ve repaired the underframe, floor and roof, replaced all interior panels and vinyl wall coverings, reupholstered all 64 seats with new 1924-pattern moquette, installed new tables, and repaired the timber frame and some of the exterior teak panels. 

‘A number of the largest teak panels were beyond repair, so these were replaced with the last of the SVR’s stock of new panels, obtained many years ago. Naturally grown teak panels of the required size are no longer available, as the felling of suitable mature trees in the Far East was prohibited several years ago. 

‘One of the more unusual jobs was the replacement of some of the gangway components, as these were worn beyond acceptable limits. Although 43612 was built by the LNER at York in 1934, the gangways were contracted out to Metro-Cammell in Birmingham. After the company closed, most of their drawings were saved by Birmingham library.

 

One of our volunteers spent an afternoon in the library with his laptop, creating CAD drawings from the stored microfiches. We sent these to a local manufacturer who made the required components on a CNC milling machine, together with a spare set to go into store. 

‘After many weeks of final painting and varnishing, the lining and lettering was applied – all painted by hand. On a Gresley coach, there is a third-of-a-mile of straight lines to paint on, together with gold leaf on the lettering!’  

Still to come is some mechanical work, including fitment of a set of bogies and braking/heating systems, all of which have been overhauled in Carriage & Wagon at Kidderminster. The Railway expects to see 43612 take its place back in the teak set by the autumn.   

Click on the gallery for larger images and descriptions..

A ‘long goodbye’ for the Parry People Mover 

Since 2021, the Parry People Mover, PPM 50 prototype Car 12 has been at the Railway. Two days ago, after repeated delays, it finally left! 

 

The vehicle came to the SVR for testing, but after its flywheel was damaged, it was stored, awaiting collection by the owner. 

 

In 2023, vandals 'tagged' it at Highley, and smashed two windows. This unfortunately left this unusual little vehicle as more of an eyesore than an asset, and negotiations have been underway to arrange for its retrieval. 

 

Delays continued till the end – Allelys loaded the Parry onto their transport on Monday, but it wasn’t until Tuesday 9 July that it finally left the SVR. 

  

Its new home is at the Very Light Rail National Innovation Centre at Dudley. This also houses another Parry, Car 10, which is fuelled by biomethane.  

Parry leaving July 8th 2024.jpg

Parry leaving the SVR. MATT ROBINSON

Lots of activity at Bridgnorth MPD

Stripping the lagging from 813s boiler at Bridgnorth. MARTIN WHITE.jpg

Volunteer shedmaster Martin White takes a deep dive into the works at Bridgnorth to bring us a summary of what’s been happening recently: 

The overhaul of ‘Taw Valley’ has not yet started yet – if you’ve visited Bridgnorth and viewed the MPD yard, you’ll have seen it in store. The focus in the recent past has been on ensuring that the working loco fleet are in the best possible shape to able to operate over the main summer period. Tucked out of sight inside the shed are 1501 and 43106. These are also in store with 43106 especially having some time spent on it to try to ensure that it doesn’t deteriorate whilst in store.

 

The loco has had some general TLC, inside and out. The tender coal space, for example, has had a very thorough cleaning to prevent corrosion from setting in. It had a new tender body at its last heavy general repair, and we need to look after it. 

813 is being partially stripped. The saddle tank has been removed and sent away for the manufacture of a replacement. Following a review with the boiler inspector, a way forward has been determined to give the loco a fresh ‘10 years ticket’, hopefully without needing to do any major work and without the boiler having to be separated from frames. It will however need to be completely uncovered, and work is underway to strip the cladding and lagging.  

Work on the two prairie tanks, 4150 and 82045 continues. The former is receiving support from members of the paid staff including the production of pipework. It important to get all this made and trial-fitted ahead of the completion of the boiler, because this will mean that final assembly can proceed without too much delay, after the boiler is steamed.  

In the paint shop, the new bunker and cab superstructure for ‘Dunrobin’ is receiving the necessary filling and fettling ahead of painting. Its boiler continues to be progressed in the boiler shop along with 82045’s.  

Of the working fleet, 7714 returned to use on Saturday 6 July after several repairs and refurbishments including a completely new grate and a replacement set of springs for the rear axle. The spring replacement was far from a simple task, involving new round-section springs to replace the previous square section. 7714 was pressed into use as on-loan 2999 ‘Lady of Legend’ failed on shed that morning with a badly leaking boiler mud-hole gasket. 

75069, 4930 and 13268 have all been in action over the 1940s weekends and midweek operating days, and are generally in fine fettle, although there is an intermittent piston valve problem on 4930 which is being monitored.  

Stripping the lagging from 813s boiler at Bridgnorth. MARTIN WHITE

v1 11th July

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Any opinions or views expressed in this newsletter are entirely the opinions of the contributors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Directors of Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) PLC. which owns the Severn Valley Railway, Severn Valley Railway Company Limited, the members of which are responsible for its operation, or the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust.

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