2019 Diesel Gala - 47749 is seen at Highley on the 16th May 2019. By Ian Murray
Welcome to your latest edition of Branch Lines!
As we go to press, there’s a flurry of preparations across the line as we hunker down and dig deep for the SVR’s forthcoming Step Back to the 1940s weekends which take place on 29th and 30th June, and 6th and 7th July.
This year will be rather special as we commemorate 75 years since D-Day, and remember the thousands of young men who made the ultimate sacrifice in 1944. We very hope you will be able to join us for one of these spectacular events.
Have you seen the latest temporary resident at the Railway? We are of course referring to ‘Ratbag’ who makes a welcome return to SVR metals this season. There are plenty of other updates about restorations and goings-on in this edition, and we’d love to hear your news about SVR-related matters.
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Simon Turner & Lesley Carr, Co-Editors
Picture by Ian Murray
‘Ratbag’ is back!
After months of careful planning and discussions, former SVR resident No 6960 ‘Raveningham Hall’ is now back at the SVR, for a temporary stay. Also affectionately known as ‘Ratbag’, the loco left the SVR in 1996 after a residency of 19 years, covering 69,392 miles in her time here. Locomotive coordinator Duncan Ballard tells us more:
“This arrangement is a first for us as it is a swap arrangement with the West Somerset Railway. They are having No 7802 ‘Bradley Manor’ from May 22nd until early October 2019. This swap enables the WSR to have a ‘Blue’ route loco, whilst the SVR has the heavier ‘Red’ route loco.”
The swap has been made possible by the close working relationships established between the Erlestoke Manor Fund, West Somerset Railway, Locomotive Services Limited and Severn Valley Railway.
Photo: David Christie
New painting platform proves its worth in C&W
Ideally a heritage carriage should be repainted every seven years. The SVR has a lot of carriages and a queue for repainting has built up. However, the recent addition of a painting platform at Kidderminster Carriage & Wagon will help to speed up the work considerably. The first vehicle to receive attention alongside the wooden platform is 1855, a Mark 1 buffet car, owned by the Bridgnorth-based Bar Dept Buffet Car fund. C&W’s resident technical expert Hugh McQuade tells us more:
“1855 was built in 1961 and is a restaurant miniature buffet car or RMB for short. It was bought from Inverness in the early 1980s with the main funder being Bob Florence, known to us all as Bob the Jock. He was one of the Railway’s first volunteer barmen at Bridgnorth station bar, in the days before paid staff were engaged.
“For this repaint, we’ve added a red stripe over the windows. This was a 1964 development that BR maroon liveried vehicles received, to bring us in line with European practice. Red stripes denote catering vehicles, yellow was for first class and blue was for sleeping cars.”
1855 had a few minor welding repairs before its repaint, and has also received an interior ‘freshen up’ and some table adjustments.
Photo: 1855 alongside the painting platform, by Ronan O’Brien
Back in the day …
Peter Darkin, one of the SVR’s volunteer archivists, sent us a rather amusing snap from the family album. In the early days of SVR preservation, Peter’s eldest son volunteered in the loco department, as one of a group of schoolboys from Oldbury Wells School. With somewhat different rules governing health and safety in the 1970s, this young man once spent the day inside a firebox, and returned home covered in the evidence of his labours. We hope the Darkin family washing machine was up to the task!
Peter’s grandson Max recently visited the SVR from New Zealand where he has lived since 2001, and the family was delighted to find themselves travelling in 16202, this being the last coach Max’s father/Peter’s son worked on as a boy before going off to college. Steam is clearly in the family blood, as he’s currently building a 1/3 size Burrell traction engine.
Photo: Peter Darkin
Festiniog trainees on SVR placement
Last month two trainees from the Festiniog Railway spent a week at Carriage & Wagon in Kidderminster, and were put straight to work alongside SVR volunteers and paid staff. Iwan Edwards and Bradley March were taken on by the Festiniog last September, and part of their training involves a placement to broaden their experience.
Photo: Richard Herington
What’s happening in Bridgnorth MPD
Loco shed master Martin White gives us the lowdown on valve and piston overhauls, boiler washouts and juggling priorities.
The loco department are now well into their stride with seven-days-per-week running. From an engineering services perspective the overhaul teams largely continue their work unaffected, although just like the rest of us they take holidays! Nevertheless, it is sometimes necessary for them to lend team members to the maintenance team to assist with specific tasks. Ideally, we’d like to ring-fence overhauls from maintenance, but in reality, it never quite happens.
An example of this is the valve and piston (V&P) overhaul on ‘Flying Pig’, 43106. It was stripped down, assessed and had the valve chests re-bored early in 2019. Unfortunately, progress largely come to a standstill due to other maintenance work and repairs. So, in order to get the V&P work finished quickly and have the loco up and running for the main season, one of the overhaul team has been ‘loaned’ to the maintenance team to help complete it.
The overhauls of 42968 and 4930 ‘Hagley Hall’ are progressing to plan regardless, even though occasional visitors to the shed may not see a visible difference. Even quite ‘exciting’ tasks, such as the liquid nitrogen shrink fitting of valve liners on 42968 aren’t apparent, unless you witness it at the time, or look very closely at the loco. Months of work takes place in repairing/overhauling components or manufacturing new, but it’s only when they are fitted that you’ll really notice a big step forward.
The running maintenance team are now at the time of the season when boiler washouts and boilersmith examinations occur very frequently. Barely a week goes by without a washout being undertaken and sometimes there are more than one. A loco may be ‘stopped’ for a washout one weekend and be back in traffic the next, with casual observers not even aware that anything has been done. However, as well as the washout and examination and all that it entails, they also carry out as many running repairs as possible, in just a few days. These are generally the minor niggles identified by the operating crews and recorded on the drivers daily ‘ticket’. Sometimes however, it’s not possible to attend to everything and the repairs are deferred until the loco can be ‘stopped’ for a longer period, enabling the issues to be attended to and rectified. This is never the case if a fault is deemed as safety critical, but fortunately this rarely occurs, and a safety critical fault would entail the loco being withdrawn from traffic anyway.
As an example of this, last month I reported that 7802 had some brake issues, which meant that the loco brake cylinder had to be removed. Unfortunately, that repair wasn’t 100% successful and so the whole thing had to be done again. Bogie out, brake cylinder out, strip apart, repair, reassemble, test it off the loco, refit and replace the bogie. That’s two or three guys utilised for half a week, to ensure the loco was fit before swapping with 6960.
Photos by Martin White, 7802 with bogie removed to enable the brake cylinder to be extracted for repair and New valve heads for 43106 being fitted to refurbished valve spindles in the machine shop
Volunteer recruitment is in good shape
Figures recently reported to the SVR’s staffing committee show that volunteer recruitment at the Railway is very healthy, and that the vast majority of people who are inducted follow through to take up a position in one of the many different areas along the line. During 2018, 138 underwent induction and an impressive 127 of these took up a volunteer role on the SVR. Volunteer liaison officer Barry Moreton adds:
“We get a wide variety of people wanting to volunteer, and the VLO team works with them to find the location and role that suits each individual, depending on the current need. There’s always the possibility of a transfer, if the individual wants it. For us, it’s about keeping people happy. Without our fantastic band of some 1,700 volunteers, the SVR simply wouldn’t be able to function.”
If you would like to find out more about volunteering at the SVR, please contact the VLO on 01299 401776 or email
Look who’s been out and about!
The newly restored Stove R van, No 2886, has emerged from the restoration workshops and successfully completed its test run from Kidderminster to Bewdley and back, hauled by the newly commissioned diesel shunter 09107.
Watch out for the Stove R next year in a new, exciting role as the host of a special mobile exhibition, charting the history of the SVR’s earliest days. This exhibition forms part of the Falling Sands restoration project, made possible by The National Lottery Heritage Fund and kind donations from thousands of SVR Charitable Trust supporters.
Hugh McQuade, C&W’s technical expert gives more information on the 09 shunter:
“The purchase of this class 09 was helped by Charitable Trust funding, and is a relatively late conversion of an 08. It now has a maximum speed in the high 20s, as compared to its original maximum speed of 15 mph. These converted shunters were used principally in the Southern Region of British Railways and its successors, for moving carriages in and out of termini to carriage sidings at swifter speeds than standard 08s.
“Accordingly, we’ve restored it to its BR corporate blue livery, in keeping with its remodelled condition.”
Mayor of Bewdley visits SVR
The SVR Company Limited (formerly known as the SVR Guarantee Company) invited the Mayor of Bewdley to draw its annual raffle at Bewdley station last month. Councillor Roger Coleman was accompanied by his wife Anna, also a Bewdley Town councillor, and was carrying out his final local duty in his current term of office. The raffle was held to raise funds towards the ‘Access for All’ project to restore 9581, a much needed wheelchair-accessible buffet car which will form part of the Railway’s normal service set ‘GW2’ of restored Great Western Railway period coaches. It’s expected that the raffle will have raised more than £10,000.
Roger and Anna had chance to inspect the work in progress on 9581, which is being created out of an already much modified but heavily run-down GWR coach No 5043 from 1928. This has served as a workshop in various ownerships since its withdrawal from British Railways passenger service in the 1950s.
Please donate to this ongoing project through the SVR Charitable Trust by downloading a form at http://www.lnersvrcoachfund.org.uk/news_letters/DONATIONS%20AND%20GIFT%20AID%20FORM%20GWR%205043-9581.pdf
Photo: Richard Hill
Happy 90th birthday ‘Hagley Hall’
Bob Sweet, from the Friends of Locomotive 4930 ‘Hagley Hall’ group writes as the locomotive reaches the grand old age of 90, and gives us an update on the many different tasks that are being undertaken to bring it back into steam at the SVR.
In 1929, the Wall Street Crash started the Great Depression of the 1930s, the BBC broadcast the first television transmission, the German airship “Graf Zeppelin” made a round-the-world journey, and the cartoon character Popeye made his first appearance. At the end of May 1929, Britain held a general election, the first in which women under 30 could vote. It resulted in a hung Parliament, with the Liberals holding the balance of power. In early June, Ramsay MacDonald formed a new Labour Government.
At the same time, the Great Western Railway works at Swindon was busy constructing new ‘Hal’” Class locomotives on a production line, with 62 such examples (4908 to 4969) being manufactured that year, an average of over one every working week. During May, 4930 was created at a total cost of £5,107, and exactly 90 years ago, was undergoing its commissioning tests and trials before being accepted for traffic during June 1929.
Ninety years later, and 4930 is again a kit of components, gradually being recreated into a working GWR ‘Hall’ class locomotive fit for many future years use in the 21st Century.
A return to traffic during 2020 remains the target, and currently, work is progressing well on several fronts to achieve this aim.
Machining of the two halves of the cylinder block at Harco Engineering, Brierley Hill, has now been successfully completed, and attention has now turned to machining the castings for the valve liners. Work on the boiler at Northern Steam Engineering is also reported to be progressing very favourably.
At Bridgnorth Works, delivery of a new vacuum reservoir for the tender has taken place. No time has been wasted in applying a protective coat of black paint.
Fitted bolts and studs for holding the cylinder block and bogie pivot in position have now been manufactured in quantity.
Volunteers Alan Pincher, John Ordidge and colleagues are busily engaged in fabricating new cabsides for 4930, using the original panels as patterns. They have also manufactured a new reversing box, reformed and replaced wasted metalwork, restored and replaced some of the locomotive splashers, and refurbished cabside handrails. Work has also been under way in recent weeks to replace pipework and other components on the underside of the tender.
As is often the case with heritage restoration, 'Hagley Hall's costs have increased significantly from first estimates, and the final bill will be around £1,000,000. Please donate through the SVR Charitable Trust to get 4930 back into steam at https://www.svrtrust.org.uk/index.php?page=Make%20a%20donation, or you can make an instant, contactless donation at the new Tap to Give donation point on Kidderminster concourse.
Photos by Bob Sweet: Volunteers Alan Pincher, John Ordidge and colleagues are fabricating new cabsides, Fitted bolts and studs for holding the cylinder block and bogie pivot in position and Newly machined cylinder blocks
Vacancy for HR assistant
The SVR is recruiting an HR Assistant to join in August 2019. The successful candidate will complete an HR apprenticeship at Heart of Worcester College, the SVR’s training partner. They will attend on day release on their Advanced Apprenticeship and CIPD-accredited qualifications from September 2019. All apprenticeship recruitment is through the National Apprenticeship Scheme.
For further information and to apply please follow this link: https://www.findapprenticeship.service.gov.uk/apprenticeship/-416625
The successful candidate will be independent, self-motivated and proactive, able to prioritise workload, work on their own initiative with efficiency, accuracy and meet deadlines. Four GCSEs or equivalent including English and mathematics are essential, as is IT literacy and familiarity with Microsoft packages for college assignment work and application in the workplace eg databases and spreadsheets. Of equal importance are interpersonal skills.
Closing date for application is 14th June. Applications must be made through the link above, NOT directly to the SVR.
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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.