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June 2017

2017 Diesel Gala on 19th May - Class 14 & 17 double head a train to Bridgnorth, seen here entering Bewdley. By Ian Murray

Welcome to your latest edition of Branch Lines!


Welcome to the June edition of Branch Lines, the e-newsletter for SVR shareholders and members. Now that the 2017 season is fully underway, we’ve a report from last month’s Spring Diesel Festival, and some fantastic news from the SVR Charitable Trust which is celebrating its success in raising £1 million to invest in its endowment Future Fund. Whether you’re a social media lover or hater, there’s no denying that Facebook and the like are here to stay, and we report on how the SVR is positioning itself at the forefront of online communication. Plus all the news and views from around the Railway.

As more and more SVR enthusiasts sign up to receive Branch Lines, April’s edition clearly hit the right spot with many. Phil Wright emailed to say: “The news coverage is excellent, including many recent photographs, but I especially liked the one of 3205 all those years ago.” And Nigel Packer tells us: “I loved the links to the film footage from 50 years ago, complete with the man looking for the perfect shot – no Health & Safety in those days! The video taken at various events was also wonderful to watch, particularly where I had been unable to attend.”

Please do get in touch with your views and photographs. Just email

Simon Turner & Lesley Carr, Co-Editors 

Picture by Ian Murray

Charitable Trust hits the £1 million jackpot!

The SVR Charitable Trust has announced that it has met the Heritage Lottery Fund’s £1 million fundraising challenge. HLF pledged to match every pound donated to the Trust’s endowment Future Fund, to reach a total of £1 million.

The offer was due to expire at the end of this month, but more than four weeks ahead of the deadline, the Trust received the final and much-anticipated donation that took the amount raised to the £1million mark.

A £400 cheque from lifelong SVR supporter Richard Hill (pictured) tipped the scales; after Gift Aid and HLF match funding, his donation was boosted to £1,000 for the appeal. Richard has been a volunteer and fundraiser at the SVR for 24 years, and said the long-term aim of the appeal attracted his interest:

“I’m very happy that my money, along with the other donations, is going to be invested in the Charitable Trust’s endowment Future Fund. It will generate income to support all kinds of restoration projects. I see this as helping to secure a viable future for the Railway, and I like the forward thinking behind it. I really believe that since it was established in 2012, the SVR Charitable Trust has been transforming fundraising on the Railway.”

Re-acting to the achievement, Charitable Trust Chairman Hugh McQuade said:

“We are delighted with this success, and have been inspired by the passion and generosity of all our supporters. Thanks to the opportunity HLF has given us, we’ve kick-started our endowment Future Fund. With the first £1 million in place, we’re now in a position to make a real commitment to the future of the Railway, to help fund the essential maintenance and restoration work on its rolling stock and infrastructure in the years to come.”

There have been thousands of donations to the appeal since it began in 2014. Some people signed up to give a regular amount on a monthly basis, others chose more unusual ways; one group of friends handed over the remains of their beer kitty after a day out on the Railway, and another supporter raised money by making and selling a valuable model locomotive.

Although the first £1 million is now secured, as Hugh explains, that’s only the beginning:

“Our ultimate goal is to raise £10 million for the endowment Future Fund, as we believe that would produce enough income to alleviate concerns over the Railway’s future. Although the HLF match funding has now reached its limit, we can still claim 25% extra Gift Aid on donations, and I encourage people to continue to donate to the SVR’s future wellbeing.”

The Charitable Trust’s Director of Development, Shelagh Paterson added:

“Now we’ve secured this £1 million for our endowment fund, we’ll be focussing on supporting the Bridgnorth Development Project. We’ve already raised £40,000 for this, and are seeking further donations. These can be ring fenced for Bridgnorth, and will also attract an extra 25% Gift Aid at no further cost to the donor.”

Brick by brick, we’re getting there!


At Bridgnorth station, there’s now real evidence to be seen of the new refreshment building rising from the groundworks, as Infrastructure Manager Chris Bond explains:


“Bricklaying on the retaining wall has progressed well despite some very warm weather which can hinder the operation. The curved part of this wall on the south east corner has been superbly executed, and will look stunning topped off with bull nose coping bricks and spear top fencing.


“The complex angles and rake of the wall here have proved a challenge for the bricklaying team, but their deliberations have paid off.

“Work has now commenced on the building itself, with the first course of bricks in place, encompassing the footprint of the building. This is part of ensuring the setting out of all works in practice. Once this is declared satisfactory, the bricklayers will rapidly put down the walls and our supporters will see far more visible progress taking place.


“Volunteers are assisting Iris, the contractors, by cleaning off cement mortar from recovered coping bricks donated to the SVR by Kier Construction. These have been removed from bridges affected by the London – Bristol electrification work. With their authentic GWR origins, these recovered coping bricks are perfect for our project.”


Remember, you can support the Bridgnorth Development Project by buying shares in the 2016 Share Offer. See for more details.

Have a day at the races and support the SVR!

As a supporter of the Railway, you are warmly invited to the SVR Charitable Trust’s race day at Worcester race course on Wednesday 14th June. Tickets are £9 each, and £3 of this will be donated directly to the Charitable Trust. The action begins at 2.30pm.

Or if you, or your company, would like to join more than 200 of Worcestershire’s finest in the luxury marquee, you can reserve a table of 10 for £850, or purchase a pair of tickets for £200. Enjoy a three course lunch, wine, an expert tipster talk and the chance to bid for a range of exciting auction prizes. 

Please see for further details

SVR Social Media!

The SVR’s Marketing Department is delighted with the online impact being made by Marketing and Events Assistant Stan Jones. As Marketing Manager Clare Gibbard explains, there’s now increased coverage and engagement across various social media platforms:

“Our coverage of the Spring Diesel Festival on social media was fantastic, and our increased online coverage is paying dividends. We’re generating some really positive numbers across all of our social platforms.

“However our efforts aren’t just about numbers, they’re about people. As a Railway we receive glowing reviews from individuals every day, across TripAdvisor, Facebook and Google, commending the volunteers and staff. “

Some social media stats:

· The SVR’s average online newsletter open-rate is 40%, compared with an industry standard of 15-30%

· The Severn Valley Railway Official Facebook star-rating, bolstered by more than 750 reviews, is now 4.8 out of 5.

· The week ending 25th May saw the highest ever number of users aged 18-24 on

· Since the start of 2017, there’s been an increase of more than 5,000 followers on Facebook, to give a total of 23,800

If you’re using Facebook, please remember to ‘like’ the ‘Severn Valley Railway Official Site’ page, and share the posts too.

Diesel Festival success! 

It’s been 30 years since the first diesel gala at the Railway, and last month’s Diesel Festival featured a wide variety of traction, from heritage diesels through to 88003, the most modern DRS locomotive operating on the mainline network.

The weather, on the whole, was kind, and with an impressive selection of stands at stations, brake van rides at Highley and intensive running through the three days, there was a strong buzz of enjoyment in the air. Despite some minor signalling issues that were soon rectified on the Saturday morning, the event ran smoothly.

SVR Director and Chairman of the Diesel Committee Jonathan Dunster paid tribute to the huge effort that went into the organisation of the event:

“It takes a significant amount of hard work behind the scenes to arrange visits of diesel traction and rolling stock, plus the huge task of rostering turns and operating the services. We needed to fully staff the Engine House, the stations, and the catering and retail outlets, and to ensure maintenance teams were ready, just in case repairs were needed. To everybody involved, your supreme efforts were much appreciated. The results were there to see on the smiling faces of our visitors and the compliments they gave. It really was a superb event.”

General Manager Nick Ralls added:

“We’d also like to thank all the visiting locomotive and rolling stock owners. We hope that you enjoyed it as much as we did and that you will come again soon.”

Some facts and figures from the Diesel Festival:

· At last year’s event, 4,800 passengers travelled over the three days; this year we recorded 4,810, and the tickets sold at intermediate stations will add further to the total

· Bars, retail and catering saw a 25% improvement in sales over 2016, with 777 Diesel Festival DVDs and 40 Diesel Festival T Shirts sold during the event

· Revenue for on-the-day ticket sales saw a 10% growth on 2016

A double win for SVR pubs

More accolades have been added to the SVR’s extensive collection, with the announcements that the King & Castle and the Railwayman’s Arms have both been honoured by the Campaign for Real Ale, CAMRA.

In Kidderminster, the King & Castle scooped Wyre Forest CAMRA’s Pub of the Season award for Spring 2017. CAMRA’s Nick Yarwood commented:

“We think the pub is welcoming for the many visitors who come to Kidderminster and the Railway in the spring. The bar staff are welcoming, the food offering is good, as is the outside seating under the canopy to enjoy the warmer weather. Our members appreciate the variety and the quality of the beers on offer. Gavin Chance and his team have done a good job in raising standards against stiff competition and the award is well deserved.”

Meanwhile at Bridgnorth, the Railwayman’s Arms took the CAMRA "Bridgnorth Pub of The Year Award’ earlier this season. Marketing and Communications Manager Clare Gibbard said:

“This is a fantastic achievement for Samantha Cottrell and her team, supporting the ongoing quality and service that has been offered for many years now. With the number and quality of public houses in Bridgnorth they were up against, to win this award was an amazing achievement!”

Congratulations to everyone involved.

Injured passenger thanks SVR staff

Bewdley Stationmaster James Pearson has received a letter from a passenger who fell over at the Spring Steam Gala in March, injuring his head. There was a delay of over half an hour to the trains, whilst emergency crews attended and conveyed the gentleman to an ambulance.


James tells us:

“Fortunately the gentleman concerned has made a full recovery, and wishes to thank everyone who helped him on the day. He has also asked us to pass on his apologies for being the cause of the delay at this special event. We’re just very happy and relieved to learn that he is now feeling much better.”

Class 14 Success!

Congratulations to the small team of devoted volunteers who have worked tirelessly over the last three and a half years to restore this locomotive at Bridgnorth. Owned by The Severn Valley Railway Class 14 Company the loco hauled its first revenue earning train for over twenty years, on the 18th May 2017. 

Well done chaps!


Pictured left, on a test run at Hampton Loade are a few of the team, Gary Williams, Paul Davies, Duncan Ballard and Chris Bailey.




Thanks for reading!

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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 either Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) PLC. which owns the Severn Valley Railway, or Severn Valley Railway Company Limited, the members of which are responsible for its operation.

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