June 2021

GBRf 66737 hauls the VSOE Pullman to Bridgnorth on 5th June 2021. John Sherratt

Welcome to your latest edition of Branch Lines!

At long last, “Sumer is icumen in”, after an unseasonably cool and wet May kept people at home. With it we’ve a slightly shorter issue this month as the Railway has settled into a ‘new normal’ routine of excursion trains. Nonetheless we’ve news of a successful Spring Diesel Bash and a prestigious visiting train.

With the rest of England, the Railway awaits announcements over ‘step 4’ and future social distancing. Our fingers are crossed that for next month’s Branch Lines it will have been safe enough for more restrictions to have eased. We’ve both a look ahead from the general manager and some cautionary words from the MPD.


It’s certain though that whatever the outcome, the Railway will need its supporters’ continuing generosity – for which many thanks are due. The Charitable Trust’s Home & Dry appeal has started very well, and its success will bring much essential improvements at Bridgnorth Loco Works.


The 1940s weekends are coming up quickly and we’ve a return of the Saturday night events, plus a look back at events past through the eyes of some of our re-enactors. The nostalgic theme continues with 50 years of pannier preservation on the Railway and tales from the 1960s of a young volunteer that will make our safety team’s collective steel-capped toes curl!


In the meantime, do stay safe.

Lesley and Patrick, co-editors

The Branch Lines team is Lesley Carr, Patrick Hearn, Amy Baker and Nicola Fox

Hold steady, we’re doing well!

As the SVR, along with the rest of the country, awaits news from the government about the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, general manager Helen Smith shares her assessment of how we’ve coped so far, and what lies ahead:


The government has promised its announcement later this month will be irreversible. We don’t know what they are going to say, but we can think positively about what we have been able to do this year, despite continued government restrictions.
We were the first heritage railway to run an event in 2021, the Spring Steam Up, which was a fabulous success, and was closely followed by the Diesel Bash in May. We are running trains again, not as many as we had originally planned, but we are looking after our visitors really well. The feedback is excellent and value for money scores remain high. Here are extracts from a few recent reviews on our Trip Advisor page:

“An excellent day out from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth and return. The same carriage for our sole use on each journey was very Covid secure. Hand sanitiser and our own bag for waste were provided in the carriage. The SVR has made valiant efforts to keep all passengers safe and they are to be congratulated for the hard work.” Linda P


“Enjoyed the day on the SVR, with the whole family including our 2 year old grandson […] The Engine Shed is well worth the visit and of course the wonderful scenery along the way. We'll definitely plan another visit very soon.” Cofield07


“Spent the day on the SVR, with the first stop being the Engine Rooms and then the second stop being Bridgnorth. Had the benefit of a private compartment which was ours for the day and therefore eased any covid concerns […] Was worth every penny and look forward to doing it again.” DTChris


“A really great day out, a big shout out to every team member, very helpful, very informative and attentive. Our little boy is partially disabled but a wheelchair is no problem, instead of going over the footbridge we were escorted across the tracks at Bewdley and were afforded all the help needed for the entire experience […] The Covid precautions are spot on.” Tim P


After the end of restrictions, it’s inevitable that there will be a lasting anxiety from some people about mixing with others, and protecting their personal space. Reserved guaranteed seating will be a must for some visitors for a long time to come, and the carriage stock with private compartments we can offer is really making a difference. (I can hear SVR founding father David Williams saying, “Yes Helen, and another general manager tried to get rid of them years ago!”)


The other attractions I speak to regularly are expecting consumer confidence to be low. They think it will cause difficulties with achieving visitor numbers through 2021, with normality expected in 2022. I am more confident that the SVR will do well this year. We proved we could do it last year, so let’s all pull together and do it again in 2021!

Photo: 1501 passes Daniel's Mill in June 2021. John Sherratt.

 

Home & Dry Appeal steams away!  

The SVR Charitable Trust has announced that it’s already received more than £155,000 for its Home & Dry appeal. The major appeal aims to raise £425,000 to carry out essential works to Bridgnorth Locomotive Works, which it’s hoped will begin in spring 2022. 

At the time of publication the raffle for SVR members has raised an impressive total of over £30,000 gross. This will be drawn at Bridgnorth Station at 12.30 pm on Wednesday 30th June, to determine the £1,000 top prize winner and the additional 12 runner-up cash prizes.  

The Home & Dry appeal launched last month and has got off to any amazing start, with donations including Gift Aid totalling over £120,000 to date. Home & Dry leaflets are currently landing on supporters’ doorsteps and will also be featured in the upcoming SVR News, the quarterly publication that SVR members receive. The Trust is hoping for many more contributions in the coming weeks and months.  

The Trust’s director of development Shelagh Paterson told Branch Lines: “We cannot thank donors enough for their overwhelming support to help replace the leaking roof, improve the lighting at the works, and to bring in an overhead crane. All of this will vastly improve working conditions, efficiency, health and safety and cost effectiveness within Bridgnorth Locomotive Works and also greatly improve the morale of the dedicated staff who work there.  

“In addition, we are approaching grant makers who we’re confident will also support this essential project.”

 

Donations of £75 or over will also pay for a steel purlin for the roof of the shed and the donor will receive a signed Alan Reade limited edition print of Bridgnorth Locomotive Works. Donations of £1,000 or above will pay for a steel column and beam for the crane, and secure the donor’s on a permanent scroll of honour at the works.  

Donations of any amount will be gratefully received and can be made at www.svrtrust.org.uk .  

 

Raising funds for the renovation of Bewdley South bracket signal  

The SVR Charitable Trust has launched a JustGiving appeal to raise funds for the necessary renovation of Bewdley South bracket signal, and after just over two weeks, is delighted to report that £1,475 of the £5,000 needed has already been raised!


The Railway is very fortunate to possess two wooden bracket signals near Bewdley South signal box. The smaller signal retains its original signal post but is shorter, with around 5ft of the base having been removed after it had rotted. The remaining post now sits in a steel shoe on a concrete base.

The main post of the larger bracket signal was originally erected in 1932. It was replaced in 2004 with one made of Douglas fir, which unfortunately did not stand the test of time. It was condemned, with the wooden bracket from the removed signal stripped of its arms in October 2020 and the post lifted out of the ground by the SVR’s 30-ton steam crane. A temporary signal was brought into use at the same time. A replacement made of African hardwood is being sought, as a much harder-wearing and longer-term solution.


The Charitable Trust’s fundraising manager, Sue Chance, told Branch Lines: “We're hoping to raise £5,000 to replace all three posts, the main post and the two smaller dolls, for the end of mid-week running later this year.


“If you can make a contribution to help towards the renovation of these beautiful wooden bracket signals, then please donate at Justgiving.com/bracket-signal. Thank you.“

Photos: Bewdley South signal post before removal, taken on the 18th September 2020, Ian Murray. Bewdley South signal temporary replacement in October 2020, Rob Green.

 

The SVR gets ‘back in the swing’

Great news - the ever-popular big band evening shows are back as part of the Railway’s Step Back to the 1940s weekends this summer. 

 

The shows take place at Kidderminster Town station on Saturday 26th June and Saturday 3rd July, starting at 7.15pm.


In line with government guidance, the event capacity has been reduced and guests will be allocated a bay of socially-distanced seating. As the shows take place in the open air, you won’t need to wear face coverings when seated, although they must be worn at all other times.


You’ll be whisked back in time and immersed in the heady atmosphere of the 1940s, with the big band sound of the Kalamazoo Dance Band and vintage singer Hattie Bee. The evening will end, quite literally, with a bang, as a spectacular, simulated air raid takes place.


Events manager Lewis Maddox said, “We’re so pleased that we’re able to put on this superb event for 2021, and can’t wait to welcome everyone to Kidderminster for an evening of 1940s-style entertainment. The Kalamazoo Dance Band are arguably the most popular 1940s big band on the circuit, and together with returning star Hattie Bee and other special guests, they’re guaranteed to get everyone ‘in the mood’.”


Tickets are available from www.svr.co.uk starting at £30 for a party of two. Make sure you bring appropriate warm and waterproof clothing for these outdoor events.


Day tickets are now 75% sold out for the fun-packed and immersive Step Back to the 1940s Weekends. There’s still chance to join in the fun on 26th, 27th June, 3rd and 4th July, but you’ll need to be quick!

 

Photos:

Tom Kupiec and Peter Smith bringing the 1940s to Kidderminster on 9th June 2021 (by Lesley Carr)

Locomotive 2857 during the simulated air raid (by Robin Coombes)

Singer Hattie Bee

Members of the Kalamazoo Dance Band.

 

All dressed-up for the Railways: 25 years of recreating the past

As the Railway prepares itself for the return of the Step Back to the 1940s weekends, Branch Lines has heard from some of the people who took part in past events. In the 1960s, Tony Perry became involved in the Severn Valley Railway, during the early stages of preservation. This planted a seed that would come to fruition years later in the form of a society of re-enactors.


The society in question was Nostalgia Unlimited, which after 25 years of successfully providing up to 150 re-enactors to events up and down the country, bowed out in 2018 for a well-deserved break; yet their story would not have been the same without the SVR.


Originally, the society provided re-enactors in period costume to Edwardian and Victorian events. However, in the 1990s, the SVR was the stimulus to create a new branch of re-enactors. Tony’s connection to the SVR led to an invitation for Nostalgia Unlimited to take a trip to war-era Britain and be part of the Railway’s 1940s weekend.


“It was natural we should hone in on railways,” said Tony’s wife Joyce. “Our enthusiasm was fuelled by Tony’s involvement in the 1960s, and after all everyone loves steam!”


The rest, as they say, is history; the wartime weekend continued to grow in popularity, becoming a two-weekend event, requiring greater numbers of re-enactors. Attendees of these events will probably have met Tony in his disguise as a spiv, carrying a case of black market goods in an old case and occasionally falling foul of the police. Joyce also recalled a particular event where they were perhaps a little too convincing:


“As Tony the spiv was being marched down the platform, one young man came up to him and said “It is you, isn’t it – you are the real chap off Dad’s Army?” Tony did not have the heart to say that James Beck - who played Private Walker - had been the first of the cast to pass away. This young man saw what he wanted to see, so Tony just smiled as he was being led away.

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“We have enjoyed taking part, adding a little something to the character, as well as appreciating the hard work by the regular volunteers and staff on the Severn Valley and other heritage railways, for which we offer our thanks.”


Congratulations to Nostalgia Limited for 25 years of service, and enjoy your well-earned rest!

 

The night shift – memories at Eardington 

The dilapidated water tank removed from Eardington in April this year (see May’s Branch Lines) was once key to the operations of the Severn Valley Railway. During its period of usage, the tank allowed the Railway to make use of the soft water at Eardington instead of having to contend with the harder water of Bridgnorth. Like so much of the Railway, even this innocuous tank has tales attached to it. 

 

In 1968, after several weekends preparing the tank by cleaning, descaling and applying a bitumastic coating to its interior, the volunteers were ready to install the tank’s four support columns. The job, however, did not however go quite as smoothly as planned.

 

These being the early days of preservation, appropriately qualified volunteers were few and far between and on the day in question, the only passed-out steam crane driver available was Alan Eatwell, who was at that time a mere 15 years of age. Alan was enlisted for this brief job, which proved to be anything but, as he recalls:   

“We’d started off the day in plenty of time and I’d raised steam early before our ‘Engineers’ train’ was conveyed from Bridgnorth to site. We started on the anticipated ‘five-minute’ job with a mid-afternoon return to Bridgnorth envisaged. However, alignment with the cast-in holding-down stud centres in the concrete pads prolonged the task and by about four o'clock I was very conscious that the last 190 bus home to Birmingham was to leave within the hour and I had school the next day!” 

 

On site was Bill Gillett, BR’s chief inspector from Birmingham, who informally oversaw SVR operations at that time and soon after became its first general manager. Determined to finish the job but aware of Alan’s dilemma, Bill offered to run Alan home, should he miss his bus. And so, the job went on. And on. Night fell. And still the job went on. At 11 pm, Bill delivered Alan to his grandparents’ house (with whom he was staying while his parents were on holiday), who Alan informs Branch Lines “were not impressed!” 

 

However, Alan’s dedication to the job meant that the tank was able to be lifted in by road crane in time for the 1968 Steam Gala, something certainly worth receiving a scolding from his grandparents for! 

Photo: The last Manning Wardle loco to be built, 2047 Warwickshire, takes water in 1969. David Cooke  

 

Fifty Years! Pannier believe it? 

5700 Class pannier tank 5764, or L.95 is celebrating its 50th anniversary on the SVR this month. The golden anniversary fittingly falls on the weekend of the 19th and 20th June and the owning group, the Severn Valley Railway Pannier Tank Fund (SVRPTF), are planning an event at The Engine House at Highley to commemorate this jubilee. Speaking on behalf of the SVRPTF, Peter Hudson said:  

  

“We will be marking this milestone by enhancing the L.95 exhibit with appropriate bunting, and hope people will come along to The Engine House on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th June to see and marvel at L.95 as it celebrates this special 50th anniversary. We would be particularly pleased to welcome shareholders and anyone who has worked on L.95, aka 5764, while on the SVR in the past, so we can reminisce over the past 50 years. A personal tribute book will also be available to make memory entries into and don’t forget, The Engine House has a fine café and restaurant!”   

Between 1929 and 1950 the Great Western Railway and British Railways outshopped 863 of the 5700 Class pannier tanks, the most of any British locomotive design built. Sixteen survive, including L.95 and sister 7714, currently in traffic on the SVR. 

  

Built at Swindon in 1929, 5764 spent 31 years working for the GWR and BR before being sold to London Transport in 1960 and renumbered L.95.

 

During its working life, the locomotive covered an impressive 668,771 miles. In 1970, the SVR’s Kidderminster branch formed the SVRPTF to purchase L.95 from London Transport. They completed the rescue on the weekend of 19th and 20th June 1971, when the locomotive arrived on the Saturday and had its first steaming on the Sunday.  

Over the next four decades, L.95 clocked up a further 69,916 miles on SVR metals before being withdrawn from service pending overhaul. Since then, L.95 has made an appearance as a static exhibit at the Gloucester Warwickshire Steam Railway’s Broadway Station, and currently resides at The Engine House. Repainted in its London Transport Maroon livery, the locomotive is accompanied by an associated wall display ‘From London to Bridgnorth’.  

Photos: L.95 Wembley Park, 11:38am Monday 29th January 1968, 5 vehicle Croxley Tip train ex- Neasden. B&W Film 40 FP3

L.95 { panned } Wembley Park, 11:38am Monday 29th January 1968, 5 vehicle Croxley Tip train ex- Neasden. B&W Film 40 FP3 

 

Herculean effort for VSOE Pullman

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On Saturday 5th June the first charter visited the SVR since the UK entered its second lockdown. Martin White and Bob Dunn report on this exciting moment for the Railway:


We’re very good at doing all sorts of things on the Severn Valley but not so good at congratulating ourselves. The seamless operation of the high profile VSOE Pullman on our territory can’t go without a massive pat on the back to the many people involved, a superb team effort that started weeks beforehand, thanks to the organisational efforts of Phil Swallow, Matt Robinson and the operational heads of department.


One GBRf driver required a refresher on the Class 50, which was carried out at Kidderminster on Friday 4th culminating in positioning loco 50049 Defiance so that it could drop onto the Class 66 when it arrived from Doncaster on the exchange line. Defiance and 66737 then departed for Stewarts Lane depot in London where, after disposal, locomotive crew manager Jon Teuwen confirmed that all was in place for the following day.


Meanwhile, at Bridgnorth our resident air-braked steam locomotive 34027 Taw Valley had received attention from the mechanical team and its leader Will Marsh, with an exceptional effort from the loco cleaners, especially Phil Cooper, Alan Garbett and Lorna Shorthouse on the morning of the event.


So, on Saturday 5th June the alarm goes off at 04.00 for traction inspector Dunn, and empty stock was moved to London Victoria with SVR representatives Duncan Ballard and Gary Williams on board to ensure the day went smoothly. Meanwhile, back at Kidderminster Ade Holman and James Gregory were double checking that 50007 Hercules was in good order for the return to Victoria.

On the Pullman service’s arrival on SVR metals, 50049 was uncoupled, a crew change took place and at 12.35, guard Ian Ridpath gave the right of way. Bob Dunn had the pleasure of conducting GBRf driver and former Saltley man Dick Campbell on the run to Bridgnorth. While the passengers were treated to the SVR’s stunning 16 miles of railway, Hercules was moved onto the exchange line to haul the return trip.

On arrival at Bridgnorth, Chris Thomas and his team sprang into action, and with the safe hands of driver Tony ‘Fred’ Cotterell, fireman Martin White and traction inspector Dave Evans now up front on Taw Valley, the train was ready for the 3.35 departure. With a trailing load of 620 tons it was only polite to give her a little nudge out of the station. For the rest of the journey our beautifully turned out West Country Pacific performed magnificently with no further assistance required. Despite various issues thrown at them, like a stuck whistle valve and lineside fires, the crew were in their element as could be demonstrated by Fred’s beaming smile!


Another slick operation at Kidderminster saw Taw Valley replaced by Hercules and, with brake continuity test completed, the train was ready to depart two minutes ahead of schedule back to the capital in the capable hands of driver Tony Middleton, completing the SVR’s job.


From start to finish, railway work at its best was demonstrated by all concerned!

Click on the galleries for full images and descriptions.  This is an edited version of a longer article that is expected to appear in the Autumn edition of SVR News.  

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New bright sparks at Kidderminster

The Severn Valley Railway is committed to reducing its carbon footprint, increasing sustainability in the way it operates and encouraging low carbon transport whenever possible. In line with this plan, Kidderminster station car park now has two electrical vehicle charging points for visitors – allowing sustainable travel to and from the SVR. 

 

Provided, funded and installed by Econetiq, the two EV charge points allow customers and staff with an electric vehicle to charge it while they enjoy a trip up the line. Unlike most EV charging points, the Econetiq models don’t make a connection charge; healthy for both the environment and the wallet!  

 

At the charging point you can then make a charging payment safely and securely through the Project EV app. The app is available from the Apple Store or on Google Play and can be downloaded in advance to save time, or accessed via a QR code on the information board. The two 22kW chargers provide an average of over 80 miles of charge per hour, at a cost a 25p/kwh. The chargers use a type 2 socket and you’ll need to bring your own connection leads, which are locked in position when in use. As take up increases, the intention is to increase the provision available.   

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Head of the project, Nick Yarwood said, “We are pleased to offer this service, which we hope will benefit both our passengers and the environment. To ensure that the greatest number of people can benefit from the service we are asking that should passengers have planned a long day on the Railway, they move their vehicle when they return from their first round trip, to allow others to use the charging space.” 

 

The usual car park token charge of £4 is also payable. Availability of the charging spaces can also be checked in advance on either the Project EV app or Zap-Map.

Click on the gallery for full images and descriptions.  

 

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Behind the scenes on ‘SVR TV’ 

There’s been plenty of activity on the SVR’s YouTube channel in the past month, with a variety of new films added to the library and available to view on demand - do please subscribe to the channel. The Charitable Trust have launched their Home & Dry appeal, there’s a fascinating chance to learn about the work of Philip Chatfield the stonemason, two shorts films showing important stages in the restoration project on 4930 Hagley Hall and a film about the Diesel Bash by Mike Green. Who needs Netflix?! 

 

A mixed bag at Bridgnorth MPD

Mixing our metaphors, we may have come through the fire but we’re not out of the woods yet, as Bridgnorth shedmaster Martin White writes:


It’s summer! The sun is shining, steam trains are frequently seen, visitors are travelling, volunteers are back in the Bridgnorth shed and works on a regular basis. Life, or at least SVR life, is getting back to something like our pre Covid-19 normality. In truth we are still a long way from being back to what we used to do in 2019, but after the massive disruptions of 2020, it’s good to be doing something that has a semblance of the old normal.


The shed and works at Bridgnorth have been welcoming back volunteers, some of whom have been absent since the first lockdown. However, even though we might think that activity has been seriously hampered during the last 16 months, we have nevertheless managed to achieve significant progress. For example, in the main shed 4930 ‘Hagley Hall’ has progressed from being a bare set of frames stood on stands, to being a fully re-wheeled chassis, standing on its own wheels.


But it’s not all quite as straightforward and normal looking as it might seem.

One thing that has changed during Covid-19 is the ordering, lead time and cost of some components and consumable items. Shortages of face masks and disposable gloves were well-documented in news reports, and shortages mean price rises. However, more recently we’ve experienced cost increases or delays in other items.

One stark example of this is the price of the lubrication and cylinder oils used by steam locomotives. When recently seeking prices from our regular supplier, the shocking discovery was made that due to a reduction in travel during the pandemic, the price of cylinder oil had increased dramatically. Since winter 2020, it’s gone up by 33%, a rise of £0.88 per litre; resulting in an increase of £180 per barrel, and the Railway needs four barrels totalling £2,200! Further price rises are expected to follow.


Why does less travel cause us a price rise? Oil companies have seen a massive reduction in demand for light oils such as aviation fuel, which means they are refining less, resulting in a reduced quantity available of heavy oils at the opposite end of the refining process. These ‘base oils’ are used to make products such as our cylinder oil. The less they produce, the more per barrel it costs. Quotations for items which pre-Covid may have been valid for 30 days are now being honoured by suppliers for as little as 48 hours.


So, at a time when SVR is dealing with a huge reduction in revenues we are also seeing a significant increase in costs. Tighten your belts everyone. Whilst we may be feeling like we are past the worst of Covid-19, the impacts are going to remain for a while yet.

Photo: 4930’s bogie wheels have now been reunited with its frames in the MPD. Friends of Locomotive 4930 Hagley Hall 

 

Update from the TMD 

Holdings director and chairman of the diesel committee, Jonathan Dunster, takes a quick look back at a successful Diesel Bash event and some news on the existing fleet:  

 

The Spring Diesel Bash, our first modern traction event since Covid-19 struck, was very successful both in generating a significant profit and great feedback on social media. As expected, it didn’t quite sell out (hotels weren’t open for leisure stays) but the secondary spend almost equalled that at the May 2019 diesel festival. This was mainly due to the targeted merchandise, which is something we will build on for future events. Profitability was helped by keeping costs well under budget.  

Meanwhile, 33108 is in Kidderminster TMD where Class 33/1 Preservation Company Ltd volunteers are undertaking a traction motor change and bodywork repairs, mainly to one of the cabs. It was quickly stripped down prior to the welder coming in. All being well, it will be back into traffic for the Autumn Gala in October. 

 

We look forward to the return to service of D1062 Western Courier. Winter work included overhaul of brake valves, modification to brake system pipework, fitting of overhauled preheater and an overhauled dynostarter. Further attention has been given to the bogies to ensure everything is set correctly following the overhaul work undertaken during 2020. 

  

The July - September diesel roster will be available on the SVRlive website shortly. On 11th July Class 52s D1062 and D1015 Western Champion are rostered: running days with both locos will no doubt be popular. 

  

Heavy lifting will be the order of the day on Saturday 12th June with engine lifts taking place on 08635 and 50033 Glorious. As both of these lifts are above the capacity of the TMD 10-ton crane, a road crane will be used, hence the need under safety procedures to restrict TMD access on this day to authorised engineering staff only.  

 

The Class 08 engine is being removed as part of the project with the University of Birmingham and Vanguard Sustainable Transport Solutions to convert this locomotive to hydrogen fuel. The original engine will be retained as a spare for the rest of the SVR fleet. 

  

The 33-ton power unit from 50033 is being removed to allow the main generator to be replaced by an overhauled machine. 

  

Finally, Class 14 D9551 will be flying the SVR flag down at the Mid Hants Railway for their diesel gala event from 25th-27th June.  

 

Exciting developments at Sterns

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The area around Sterns, between Hampton Loade and Bridgnorth at the foot of Eardington bank, has suffered frequent land movements since before the Severn Valley Railway was built. Over the last year, infrastructure manager Chris Bond has updated Branch Lines' readers on steps to monitor and ameliorate the latest big land movement. Chris now has news of the early stages of a potentially interesting longer-term development:   

A site meeting took place at Sterns recently with representatives from the University of Birmingham to evaluate how they might utilise their expertise to help the SVR gain more data into the geological causes of the problems we are experiencing there. Among the small delegation was Nigel Cassidy, Professor of Geotechnical Infrastructure Engineering. His on-site assessments and explanation of the geology involved in the cause of our wobbly track was fascinating and informative. the problems we are experiencing there.

One is that climate change is playing a role in what we are experiencing, with more regular river flood events and critically rapid falls in river level creating the conditions for land movement to occur. This correlates with data we already have from the boreholes and tilt sensors.  

 

From our conversations an exciting proposal is emerging to look at forming a partnership. If we can tap into academic expertise, this may open funding possibilities and lead to an innovative long-term solution for the problems at Sterns. 

  

One of the important next steps is a trial survey of an area of Sterns using a technique known as ground resistivity testing. This allows a far more detailed picture of the slip area’s underground make-up over the existing borehole data we currently have. This trial will hopefully lead onto a wider survey of the whole area to create a three-dimensional underground map, to which we hope various funding bodies might financially contribute.   

Ultimately, this data will allow us potentially to create an innovative and cost-effective remedial solution that will hopefully solve this recurring problem once and for all. None of this will come cheap, but without having a long-term strategy to solve the Sterns problem, we will forever be worrying when the next “big one” will happen.  

I’ll keep you updated, as the proposal develops.  

Click on the gallery for full images and descriptions.  

 

Falling Sands Viaduct project successfully extended

There’s news from the Charitable Trust who’ve confirmed that The National Heritage Lottery Fund (NHLF) has agreed to extend the educational and community elements of the Falling Sands Viaduct project to July 2022.  

  

The Charitable Trust’s project support officer Helen Russell told Branch Lines: “This extension will allow us more time to deliver activities postponed due to Covid-19. The NHLF have also agreed that we can use the current project underspend of £68,500 on improving the current Falling Sands interpretation at The Engine House and in the Stove-R exhibition.”  

The project is starting to pick up pace once again, and Hamish Woods joins the Trust as the new project delivery manager. Hamish has been responsible for the development of several successful heritage projects including Avoncroft Museum and the Black Country Living Museum. He has also managed funding bids and project reporting to the NLHF and other governing and funding bodies.  

  

“My role will initially focus on the completion of new interpretive displays,” said Hamish. “The new exhibitions must both add to the already high levels of visitor experience and tell the story of the viaduct and its successful restoration. I look forward to getting to know the committed volunteers and staff and the roles they play across the SVR. It’s also essential that the new exhibitions reflect the high values of service delivered and the dedication of all those who keep the wheels turning.”  

Helen concluded: “Volunteer support continues to be vital to the success of the project. For further information on volunteering opportunities in our Falling Sands Viaduct exhibitions please contact helen.russell@svrlive.com.”  

 

All repaired and ready to go

Kidderminster carriage works outshopped GWR third class compartment carriage 1086 last week, after a much-needed heavy overhaul.


“A heavy overhaul such as this involves the vehicle being dismantled, cleaned, painted, regreased and reassembled,” said fitter-machinist Alan Brookes. “But this carriage hasn't had major attention for nearly 20 years. After such a time, we found pins and bushes needing replacement, a failed bearing and oil pad, pull rods needing chopping and rewelding, as well as the usual bits during wear and tear.


“We also had to remove all the footsteps due to corrosion and descale them, repair and rivet them on. We found multiple vacuum leaks and had to resolve that during the process.”


The result is another immaculate carriage for our visitors to enjoy, as the images show.


1086 is a 1938-built Collett vehicle, one of several formed after withdrawal in the 1960s into the BR Swindon test train. It is in the care of the Great Western (Severn Valley Railway) Association and arrived on the Valley as long ago as 1969. It is usually formed in the ‘GW’ coaching set and is one of the corridor coaches that’s proved so valuable during social distancing restrictions.

Click on the gallery for full images and descriptions.

 

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SVR vacancies

The Railway is recruiting for a number of roles:  

Electrical Maintenance Supervisor full time, permanent. 

There’s further information on this role at https://www.hiredonline.co.uk/job/9468649/electrical-maintenance-supervisor/ 

The SVR Charitable Trust is looking for a part-time Finance Manager

More information about this exciting opportunity to take the reins of the Trust's financial management is at svrtrust.org.uk

Bar and catering staff are needed in all locations, especially at Bridgnorth. No experience is necessary but a positive outlook and can-do attitude are essential. These roles would be ideal for returning students looking for summer work, so please pass on to anyone you know who would be interested.  

If you have any queries on any of these vacancies, please contact HR@svrlive.com. To apply for a role, please email a CV to the same address with the vacancy name in the subject.  

 

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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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