The Junior Club polishing ex-WD/LMS 8F No 48773 at The Engine House on 4th March 2023. The club members gave the exhibits a spring clean for the season's opening. The Club is seeking more volunteer supervisors (see below). Photo: Martin Turbutt.
Welcome to your latest edition of Branch Lines!
How satisfying to be able to bring this edition of Branch Lines to you with a Railway that’s once again up-and-running! We began the 2023 season last weekend, with services between Kidderminster and Highley only, because of planned track work that’s still being completed in two locations north of Highley. Ticket prices have been reduced to reflect the shorter trip on offer during March, and this year everyone who buys a ticket will receive a voucher to come back again for free! We hope this ‘added value’ will encourage more people to choose to visit the SVR this year over other local attractions.
Full-line running resumes from Saturday 1st April, and that weekend is marked by our Open House event, when we throw open the doors to areas the public can’t usually get to see. It’s always popular, and we very much hope you’ll be able to come along too.
This month, we mark a changing of the guard in the managing director’s office, as Gus Dunster takes on the role and we bid farewell to Helen Smith. We’ve also got news of more Gala guests, at both the Spring Steam and Diesel events. Without doubt, we’re pulling out all the stops to make these events stand out in a highly competitive field, and the good news is that advance ticket sales for both are going nicely.
We have news from many different corners of the Railway, including the mystery that surrounds a recently-unearthed clock with Arley connections, how volunteer-power has made a huge contribution to cost-savings at Bridgnorth, and Taw Valley in wartime black makes its first appearance outside the paint shop!
All this and much, much more in your March edition of Branch Lines!
Lesley and Patrick, co-editors
The Branch Lines team is Lesley Carr, Patrick Hearn, Amy Baker, Nicola Fox and Pete Cherry.
Scroll down or click on the item to be taken straight to it
The Railway welcomed back passengers last weekend as the 2023 season commenced. At 10 am on Saturday 4th March, newly repainted Pannier Tank 7714 eased the Carmine and Cream set C out of Kidderminster with the first train to Highley.
The train included both an on-train buffet and the SVR Charitable Trust’s teak-bodied Kitchen Dining car 7960, which offered first class afternoon teas on the 12 pm and 2 pm departures.
At Highley, The Engine House visitor centre was open, as was the shop, Valley Suite and King & Castle at Kidderminster.
This all-steam timetable A will continue with a two-hourly service each weekend in March. Trains will operate between Kidderminster and Highley only, due to essential engineering work at Bridgnorth and near Country Park Halt.
The standard ticket price has been reduced to reflect the shorter journey, and family-saver offers mean you can enjoy a fantastic steam train experience and free entry to The Engine House for less. This season, every ticket pre-booked online gets a free return ticket, valid for 12 months!
Gus Dunster, the interim managing director said, “For the SVR’s staff and volunteers, the sight and sound of trains running and happy visitors is a reward for all our hard work over the winter to get the Railway up and ready for the new season. We can’t wait to welcome you back!
“2023 will be an important and challenging one for the Severn Valley Railway and more than ever your support is appreciated. Please spread the word to family and friends, and encourage them to visit. Share and positively comment on our social media posts. Every gesture of support means a great deal, and helps us cope with the challenges that lie ahead.”
You can book tickets at svr.co.uk and we look forward to welcoming you back!
Full-line trains will resume on 1st and 2nd April with Open House Weekend (see item below).
Gus Dunster takes over as interim managing director
Following a two-month transition and handover period, Jonathan ’Gus’ Dunster took over as the SVR’s interim managing director last week, as Helen Smith left the Railway after three years in the post.
“On a personal level, it’s a privilege to be given the opportunity to lead the SVR,” said Gus. “I look forward to working with everyone across the Railway at this critical time in our history. We have one goal right now, which is to ensure the Railway survives and we pass on the legacy of its founders to future generations, in a sound position.
“I’ve met with representatives of all three elements of the SVR (the Charitable Trust, Holdings and the Guarantee Company) to discuss and agree a way forward with the ‘one railway’ approach. The three chairs, Ron Treverton-Jones, Mike Ball and Diane Malyon, were unanimous in their support for this. The key imperative is to ensure the Holdings Company remains financially viable in these difficult times. More details will come in due course but I’m pleased to say there was complete agreement on how to proceed.”
This month, Gus has given an in-depth interview to Steam Railway magazine (issue 542, published 3rd March), in which he talks openly about the challenges the Railway currently faces, and makes his assessment on what needs to change in order for the SVR to survive.
Paying tribute to Helen’s service through what he referred to as one of the most difficult periods in the Railway’s history, SVR (Holdings) plc chairman Mike Ball said, “Helen’s team-building, leadership and management skills have been an inspiration. Her focus on people has always been to the fore. Helen’s leaving is a sad occasion for me and for the SVR, and we wish her and her partner, Jonathon Kneebone, the very best for the new challenge in Cornwall.”
Helen is taking up the position of chief operating officer for St Aubyn Estates, based at St Michael’s Mount. Gus, who is also vice chairman of SVR (Holdings) Plc, has been associated with the SVR as a volunteer for more than 30 years. He recently retired from a senior role at Avanti West Coast.
Image: Helen Smith hands over to Gus Dunster at Kidderminster Town station. Lesley Carr
SVR cranks up Spring Steam Gala guest list
A second guest, GWR Small Prairie 4555, will be joining the line-up for the Railway’s Spring Steam Gala taking place between 14th and 16th April.
It’s the only member of the original 4500 class currently in service, and will join 4079 ‘Pendennis Castle’, 4930 ‘Hagley Hall’, 7812 ‘Erlestoke Manor and GWR Pannier tank 7714 for a GWR-themed steam celebration.
One of the very last batch of the original 4500s to be built, 4555 has the distinction of having never been sold for scrap, thanks to its sale in 1965 by British Railways to preservationists who first ran it on the Dart Valley Railway. Designed as a small, mixed-traffic engine, it’s well suited to hauling trains along a branch line such as the Severn Valley. Duncan Ballard, the SVR’s head of steam locomotive engineering said:
“We’re delighted that 4555’s owners, the Dartmouth Steam & River Boat Company, have agreed to it coming to our Gala. I think it’s going to be popular with our footplate crews, because of course, the SVR is already home to another of the class, 4566, which was withdrawn from service in 2017, and is now on static display, pending overhaul.”
In addition, other members of the home fleet will appear, including SR 34027 ‘Taw Valley’, freshly repainted into a stunning wartime black livery and renumbered as 21C127. The SVR is still in negotiations with a number of owners for a third guest locomotive for the event.
Tickets, including money-saving multi-day rovers, for the Spring Steam Gala are available at svr.co.uk .
GWR 4555 pictured at Cranmore Station on the East Somerset Railway, credit Martin Creese
GWR 4555 pictured at Mendip Vale on the East Somerset Railway, credit Martin Creese
Bridgnorth Yard update – Phase 1 nearly complete
The new point-work into the loco yard has been installed and Signal Engineering (S&T - Signals & Telegraph) are completing work on the point-rodding and track circuits for the new turn-out and crossover.
The crossover has been adjusted to remove the adverse cross-fall so that it should give many years of service with less wear on rolling stock and the track. Passenger trains will also benefit from the improvements. In the lead-up to reopening at the start of April, the next focus is testing and adjustment, and finally, sign-off to operations.
The team have persevered despite several difficulties. Fabrication of the turn-out was delayed at the factory in south Wales due to an emergency order from Network Rail, which was compounded by transport and other delays. However, the team rearranged their tasks to largely mitigate the effects. Project manager Nick Yarwood said:
“The huge amount of work done is a massive tribute to the staff and many volunteers that have made Phase 1 of the project a great success. Now, we concentrate on getting ready for Phase 2 which is planned for winter 2024.”
This work will involve renewing all the track in the yard, providing a sufficient layer of ballast to aid drainage along with new soakaways. Changes to track levels, pit modifications, and improvements to working areas are all planned to meet the requests of yard users; this demonstrates the value of those users being represented as an integral part of the delivery team.
To make all this possible, the project needs re-usable track components from the main network and elsewhere, a new tandem turn-out, volunteer design input and funds for the elements that have to be purchased. Nick added:
“Please consider helping with the project’s continuing success. Perhaps you have knowledge or contacts? Can you donate to the project appeal – every donation helps, no matter how large or small. It all helps our railway to reap the benefits for decades to come!”
If you have permanent-way experience, or are interested in gaining some, please visit the project volunteer portal for more details. Anyone with an offer of materials should email firstname.lastname@example.org or to donate visit svrtrust.org.uk/bridgnorth-yard-appeal
Please click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.
A festival of diesel firsts!
To celebrate 50 years of diesels in preservation, the Spring Diesel Festival promises to be on a scale never seen before, bringing together up to 13 classes of heritage locomotives along with an extensive fleet of visiting modern diesel types. Several exciting guest locomotives have now been announced for the event, which takes place between 18th and 21st May.
Class 58 No 58023 will make its first-ever appearance in preservation; the first Class 58 seen in operation in Britain since the withdrawal of the entire class in 2002.
Class 47 47712 ‘Lady Diana Spencer’ will be accompanied by a push-pull set of coaches incorporating a DBSO (Driving Brake Standard Open). that were specifically designed to work with the locomotive during its British Rail operations. Another first for any heritage railway, the pairing of the Class 47 and the DBSO train will prove a further high-profile attraction at the event.
And one of Colas Rail’s Class 56s will be taking a break from main-line duties to join the Festival roster.
“We’re pulling out all the stops for this event, said interim managing director Jonathan ‘Gus’ Dunster. “Our four-day celebration this year is going to bring together an unrivalled collection, which will see the widest range of operational diesel locomotives ever assembled on a heritage railway. I can guarantee that no-one will have ever seen anything like this before. It’s going to be unmissable!”
Guest locomotives will appear alongside the SVR’s extensive home fleet, including the newly liveried Class 33 33108 and Class 42 D821 ‘Greyhound’, the first diesel locomotive preserved by a private group 50 years ago.
Tickets for the four-day, intensively-timetabled Spring Diesel Festival are available now at svr.co.uk, including money-saving multi-day tickets.
Please click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.
What’s coming up?
SVR in the running for four top awards
The SVR has been shortlisted for two Heritage Railway Association awards this year; the Coiley Award for Steam Locomotive Engineering, for the restoration of GWR 4930 ‘Hagley Hall’, and the Steam Railway magazine readers’ award for both 4930 and the improvements to Bridgnorth locomotive shed. The HRA awards take place this Saturday, 11th March, in Birmingham.
Meanwhile, the Railway is also in the running for two impressive tourism awards. It’s been shortlisted for Large Visitor Attraction and Taste of Worcestershire in the Visit Worcestershire awards, which take place later this month on Friday 24th.
4930 Hagley Hall at Oldbury on 15th September 2022. John Sherratt
Mother’s Day on the SVR
Join the SVR in celebrating Mother’s Day with a visit to the Gift Fayre at The Engine House on Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th March.
There’s something on offer for everyone, with a wealth of artisan stalls selling crafts, cakes, candles and other exciting gifts, spread over two floors of the Highley Visitor Centre. It promises to be the ideal treat for mum on this special weekend.
Over the weekend, steam services will also be running between Kidderminster and Highley. For details and to book a Mother’s Day outing in the beautiful Worcestershire countryside visit svr.co.uk/event/mothers-day-gift-fayre
National Lottery players to benefit from free SVR trips
The Railway is taking part in a massive ticket giveaway to National Lottery players as part of National Lottery Open Week, which runs between 18th and 26th March. Such was the popularity of the offer that the 400 tickets offered on a first-come, first-served basis were snapped up online within an hour!
The SVR is providing free return trips on the 12 noon departure from Kidderminster to Highley over the four days of 18th, 19th, 25th and 26th March. Passengers will be able to return on any one of the 12.50, 2.50 or 4.50 departures from Highley.
Head of commercial and visitor experience Michael Dunn, said: “We’re thrilled to be taking part in this national event as our way of saying thank you to National Lottery players. It’s thanks to them that the Railway has been able to benefit from significant grants from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.
“Over the years, it’s helped to make many different SVR projects possible, including the restoration of our flagship locomotive 4930 ‘Hagley Hall’, the restoration of Falling Sands viaduct and building The Engine House Visitor Centre at Highley and the Carriage Shed at Kidderminster.”
Photo: Lottery players on a previous Lottery Open week
Step back to the 1940s as the home front comes to the SVR
A taste of all things vintage is coming to the Railway this summer, as the ever-popular, rip-roaring ‘Step Back to the 1940s’ weekends return, with more on offer than ever before. Daytime and Big Band Show tickets are available now at www.svr.co.uk. Adult day tickets start from £34.20.
Discounts will be available for advance and multi-day bookings, SVR members, shareholders with passes or travel vouchers, and Unlimited passholders.
On 24th & 25th June and 1st & 2nd July, the line and all the stations will host a festival of forties-themed fun, with music, dancing, food, displays, vehicles, costumed re-enactors and more, to whisk visitors back in time to the British home front in the 1940s. Visitors are strongly encouraged to dress up to the nines in 1940s outfits to get fully into the spirit of things!
Passengers will be able to hop on and off the exclusively steam-hauled services as they choose, catching all sorts of exciting and engaging activities throughout the day, including speeches by Winston Churchill, 1940s singers and dancers, a wartime wedding and fun jitterbug sessions. The Engine House at Highley will be chock-full of vintage traders, ensuring visitors can fully look the part and experience the era in style. However, everyone will need to be on the lookout for those shady spivs who’ll be up to no good if they think they can get away with it!
In a Severn Valley first, throughout the June weekend there’ll be a replica Spitfire aircraft on display outside The Engine House at Highley along with an iconic Merlin engine that will regularly roar into life. During the July weekend, this space will be taken up with a range of vintage fairground games such as swing boats, hook-a-duck and tin can alley.
A star attraction will be the SVR’s home-based locomotive ‘Taw Valley’. It’s been transformed into a stunning new identity. Its shining ‘wartime black’ paint will fit in perfectly with the 1940s events.
“We’ve already been planning our 2023 weekends for the best part of six months,” said volunteer organiser Dave Brattan. “This year we’ve focussed on adding new features that we think will delight both regular attendees and a whole new audience who fancy stepping back to the 1940s for the very first time.”
On the Saturday evening of both weekends, Kidderminster Town station will host the ever-popular Big Band Shows, and this year there’ll be a specially built dance floor so revellers can let their hair down and ‘get in the mood’ of the 1940s.
Full details of the attractions can be found at https://svr.co.uk/event/step-back-to-the-1940s-2023/
Application forms for re-enactors, traders, vehicle owners and entertainers can be found here .
The return of full line running!
No, this is not an early April Fool - trains will once again run the full length of the SVR from 1st April!
A busy weekend is planned, with a packed timetable of both steam and diesel haulage, as well as the return of the SVR’s popular Open House weekend. This event allows visitors to delve behind the scenes into areas that are rarely accessible to the public. Diesel cabs tours, signal box tours, and the chance to see behind the scenes at the machine shop, locomotive works, and carriage shop are all on offer to ticket-holders, though advance booking for these tours is advised.
Guided tours of The Engine House are also available, with a raffle being run on-site to raise funds for the Railway. Prizes include a footplate ride and a 12-month unlimited family pass.
After the Open House weekend of full-line running, the SVR will be operating Timetable B, running four trains a day from the 6th - 10th April. The 13th April sees the Pendennis excursion day, a prelude to the GWR-themed Steam Gala, before the line returns to Timetable B for weekends. From May onwards, the number of running days increases and the timetable is packed with special events.
To find out more or book tickets, visit svr.co.uk/full-calendar
D821 in its new livery, with the newly painted 33 in the background. Gus Dunster
A heritage line debut for 4079 ‘Pendennis Castle’
The Railway has announced an additional running day on Thursday 13th April for visiting ex-GWR locomotive 4079 ‘Pendennis Castle’, prior to its star appearance at the Spring Steam Gala (see separate article.) This will be its first-ever heritage railway appearance.
Operating excursion-style services, it will run three round-trips clocking up 96 miles. Using a different headboard for each trip, the day will loosely recreate three famous railtours from the 1960s – the Three Mainlines 'Castle' tour and the Birkenhead Flyer and The Zulu specials*.
The loco’s first heritage railway appearance will be a remarkable milestone in its 99-year history, which included a lengthy stay in Australia then overhaul at its home base of Didcot Railway Centre.
“It’s a real coup to have ‘Pendennis Castle’ for our Gala,” said interim managing director Jonathan ‘Gus’ Dunster. “But we also felt it deserved its own headline day to acknowledge its remarkable first appearance, and for the chance to re-create something very special from the past. Paired with the SVR’s set of British Railways Mark 1 maroon coaches, it’s going to really look the part, and I know this is something enthusiasts will not want to miss.”
Details of the excursion day and tickets are available at svr.co.uk. The trips start from Bridgnorth and passengers wishing to start their journey at Kidderminster should contact 01562 757900 or email@example.com after booking online.
For those who have already booked tickets for the Spring Steam Gala, an additional 10% discount applies, whilst SVR members will automatically receive 33% off tickets when they check out online.
*On 26th April 1964 ‘Pendennis’ took the Stephenson Locomotive Society circular Three Mainlines 'Castle' tour from Birmingham. On 4th March 1967 Ian Allan ran two trains to Birkenhead, to commemorate the last through working from Paddington. The Birkenhead Flyer was worked by 4079 and The Zulu by 7029 'Clun Castle'.
4079 Pendennis Castle at Chester General before hauling the return Birkenhead Flyer to Birmingham, 4 March 1967 licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license by user 8474tim.
Across the Railway
No more ‘splashing out’ at Bridgnorth!
A small volunteer team has repaired two leaking water columns at Bridgnorth.
The two columns, situated in the loco yard and on platform 2, have both been suffering with leaky valves. In particular, the yard column has been leaking heavily for around a year, losing up to 6,000 gallons a day. With the SVR lacking the resources to deal with the leak, it had been getting worse. However, a team of volunteers came together to provide the solution.
Towards the end of February, volunteers Gordon Malcolm, Steve Boot and Pete Williamson stepped up to take on the task. Ably assisted by the ESMP department, the volunteers accessed and removed the two column valves. After refurbishment, the valves were then replaced in now water-tight condition, to prevent future water wastage, with plans in place for ongoing maintenance. Head of infrastructure Chris Bond said:
“This is a great example of volunteers coming forward to solve an issue for very little cost, and also great teamwork between volunteers and paid staff. Not to mention that this will have a considerable positive impact on saving money that was literally going down the drain! At the moment, cutting costs is absolutely at the core of what we are doing, and this repair project is a perfect showcase of how we need to be working.”
Please click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.
Doing the locomotion! Days out for the Junior Club
The SVR’s Junior Club has been busy in the last few weeks, visiting Kidderminster TMD (the diesel depot) on Saturday 18th February, and The Engine House visitor centre at Highley on Saturday 4th March.
During their visit to TMD, the juniors received a fascinating and educational tour around the SVR’s diesel fleet and facilities. After donning the appropriate safety gear, guided tours of various driving cabs and engine bays were given, as well as a close-up study of a class 50 traction motor from the pit. Members of the club were allowed to ride in the cab of a 50 while it was being shunted, learning about hand signals and radio communication, before experiencing a short, closely supervised, drive of a class 08 shunter. The day was completed with a visit to the turntable, experiencing the difficult and precise nature of turning a loco by hand. Club volunteer supervisor Martin Turbutt said:
“Everyone had a great day, and we were made very welcome by everyone at TMD as always. Special thanks to Roland, Jeff, Steve, Josh (an ex-Junior himself), James, Bob and Mark.”
The trip to The Engine House saw the juniors spend a day sprucing up the exhibits. As well as dusting and polishing, a gentle re-oiling was required for those longer-term residents that retain the patina of traditional oil & paraffin-based cleaning. Club Chairman Nick Willcox said:
“This meant all the youngsters were introduced to the important idea that, ‘taking off’ was actually more important than ‘putting on’, a distinct case of less is more. We were ably supported by some members of Bewdley MPD including what will hopefully be in future years, senior apprentices (15-16 year olds). By the end of the day, an excellent job and a happy Nicky [Freeman] were the result of much application of elbow grease by the youngsters (and not-so-youngsters!)”
Please click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions. Credits Martin Turbutt and Nick Willcox.
Back, in Black
Once again, ‘Taw Valley’ is causing a stir with bold, new livery. This time the locomotive has been doing a little time-travelling, and has been unveiled in striking wartime black, a livery it never carried because it was built just after the second world war.
It also now carries its original Southern Railway number 21C127; the ‘2’ in the 21C represents the number of leading axles, the ‘1’ the number of trailing axles, and the ‘C’ indicates there are 3 driving axles, while 127 was the locomotive’s identifying number. Vice-chairman of the ‘Step Back to the 1940s’ committee Paul Bowler was on site for the unveiling:
“It’s absolutely magnificent, she looks a real beast, and absolutely fitting for our event in wartime black. All engines were painted black during the war ostensibly to disguise them from enemy fighters. A deeper green might have been a wiser choice, but the fact is that black was cheaper to produce and dried a lot faster.”
To get a first look at ‘Taw Valley’ in this stunning new livery, check out the film on the SVR’s official YouTube channel.
Refurbishment makes work a doddle at Bridgnorth MPD
The home fleet may not need as much attention at present, but that doesn’t stop Bridgnorth MPD from being a hive of activity, as Shedmaster Martin White reports:
The 2023 season has started at the south end of the Railway, utilising 7714 with 43106 as the spare loco. After spending January and February stabled at Bewdley in a winterised state to protect them from any frost damage, they were de-winterised, received minor repairs, and were steam tested ahead of the opening weekend.
Mechanical and painting work on ‘Taw Valley’ has been completed at Bridgnorth and the loco is currently part-way through an annual boiler inspection, as is 75069 which has seen much mechanical work carried out during the winter period on valves, pistons, motion, various steam fittings and pipework.
With 1501 and 2857 withdrawn and 4930 being essentially ex-works, the maintenance needs on the home fleet have been somewhat less than recent years. This has enabled some staff resource to be directed towards revenue-earning contract work. Some of this is traditional contract engineering, with components from customers’ locos transported to Bridgnorth for refurbishment, eg rods, motion parts and cab fittings. Other contract work includes activity on locos which are part of the SVR Bridgnorth scene, 82045 for example.
There is also contract work on a loco which has become part of the Bridgnorth shed scene even though it was never intended to be! 4085 ‘Dunrobin’ is being overhauled for Beamish Museum. In the boiler shop, work has resumed on the boiler, which has been a ‘kit of parts’ for quite a long time. Within the main works, Dunrobin’s frames are now on the lifting jacks with the new cylinder block being fitted. This is far from being a simple bolt-it-in-place task, as the block has to be accurately aligned with the driving axle, which in order to be achieved necessitates the use of all sorts of technical equipment and measuring devices along with a large chunk of engineering brain!
What impresses the most about the work on ‘Dunrobin’ is how the recently completed main works refurbishment has improved the way in which this work is being carried out. The lifting into place of the cylinder block using the new overhead crane was simply described as being ‘a doddle’ and the frames themselves rest on frame stands which are placed very easily on the flat levelled floor within the jacks area. Before the refurbishment this would have been a much more awkward activity using a fork lift truck and all the associated issues in clearing sufficient access for it.
Although the boiler shop will not be featuring in the Open House Weekend, because there is so much other contract work taking place within, the shed/works will be, so if you’ve not been in since the refurbishment was completed, why not come along and see it for yourself and meet some of the shed volunteers?
Please click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.
4786’s interior restoration nears completion
Do you remember a ‘Camp Coach’ stabled at Kidderminster Town station? This unrestored 1926-built GWR coach was in fact sleeping accommodation for the station staff volunteers.
After it was replaced at Kidderminster due to water ingress, ‘Bow Ended’ Third 4786 was transferred from SVR ownership to the Great Western (SVR) Association charity, and moved to Bewdley in October 2018 for restoration to begin to restore it to as-built condition.
The GW(SVR)A’s Mick Haynes told Branch Lines: “Repairs to the interior are now nearing completion. The main remaining work is the repair to the roof, which needs access to roof harness support, and bogies to be overhauled at Kidderminster. These are planned for later this year as a paid job, covering part of SVR Engineering’s costs.
“At Bewdley, we cleaned and repainted the underframe, removed the more-recent handbrake modification and reinstated the missing vacuum cylinders, brake arms, battery boxes and dynamo slings. The body frame and all the doors also required extensive repairs and new external panelling. New locks and strike plates have been made. All glazing has been replaced with toughened glass.
“It had an almost-complete interior structure, albeit missing both lavatories; these have been completely rebuilt. New ceiling panels have been fitted throughout and the lighting renewed.
“The compartments have been fitted out with new or modified seat frames, picture panels and luggage racks. Linoleum is being laid and the seats await the upholsterer. All the moulding and varnished mahogany is to high gloss quality.”
The carriage will be finished in the 1926 livery with pseudo-lining and the garter crest, and will then take its place in the second Great Western set. The GW(SVR)A has been restoring stock to run on the SVR for more than 50 years, and is close to creating two representative GW sets, from the Edwardian era through to the 1940s.
Work has also begun on the 1910 ‘Toplight’ 2426, formerly based in the siding at Hampton Loade. The GW(SVR)A website contains further details, and you can make a donation towards the restoration of both vehicles.
Please click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.
Pannier 7714 marks 50 years on the Valley
This month marks the golden jubilee of ex-GWR Pannier Tank 7714 coming to the Railway. It arrived on 29th March 1973 from Penallta Colliery in the Rhymney Valley in the usual ex-National Coal Board (NCB) ‘worn condition’, with all wheels sporting dangerous ‘double flanges’!
The loco was inspected by representatives of the SVR Pannier Tank Fund who selected 7714 in favour of sister 7754 at Mountain Ash, and their tender of £1,750 succeeded. ‘Caudles’ delivered it by road to Bridgnorth where it was dismantled, with the kit of parts moved by rail to Bewdley. A mammoth and lengthy restoration by a dedicated team followed, supported by the proceeds of several SVRA raffles and fundraising by the (now defunct) SVR Kidderminster branch sales stands at Bewdley.
7714 eventually returned to steam in 1992, with further overhauls completed in 2000 and 2016. The locomotive is still owned by the Fund, who also own ex-GWR Pannier L.95, which is on display in The Engine House visitor centre at Highley.
Unusually, 7714 wasn’t built by the Great Western Railway. It was built in 1930 by Kerr Stuart & Co. of Stoke, in a lot that was partly funded by interest-free Government loans intended to relieve unemployment during the 'Great Depression'. Its 50 years on the Valley exceeds the sum of its 29 years on the mainline allocated to Tyseley, Birkenhead and Wrexham, and its 14 years with the NCB!
7714 has been a consistent and economical performer, recording the highest mileage of any of the fleet in both 2019 and 2022, either side of the pandemic restrictions. Following a repaint last winter it is resplendent in BR black livery with the early crest and red-backed cabside numberplates. You can travel behind it this month as it operates Timetable A between Kidderminster and Highley on weekends in March. Book tickets at svr.co.uk
You can also view on Flickr images of 7714 at Penallta Colliery in 1972 from Gordon Edgar and the KDH archive .
Please click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.
7812 'Erlestoke Manor' to make a temporary move
GWR 7812 ‘Erlestoke Manor’ will spend the summer season away from its base at the Railway. It will go on hire to the West Somerset Railway as part of a mutual agreement between the SVR and the locomotive’s owners, the Erlestoke Manor Fund.
‘Erlestoke Manor’, which has recently been overhauled and is still to complete its final running-in at the SVR, will appear in the Railway’s forthcoming Spring Steam Gala from 14th to 16th April.
After completing its duties at this event, it will leave the SVR in late April to spend the summer at the West Somerset Railway.
Duncan Ballard, head of steam engineering at the SVR, said: “This is an excellent opportunity for the SVR to continue our close working relationship with the WSR, and builds on the arrangement some years ago when the then-WSR-based Raveningham Hall spent an extended period in service at the SVR.
“7812 will be of considerable benefit to the WSR during their peak summer season. If it remained at the SVR, we would find ourselves over-supplied with steam engines for our anticipated requirements.”
Adrian Hassell, chair of EMF, added:
“With an April launch at our SVR home, followed by our return in the autumn, we see an extended summer visit of 7812 to Somerset as beneficial to the SVR, WSR and the EMF, in aligning with both SVR and WSR steaming requirements, and helping generate valuable income for the Fund’s future projects.
“With 2023 being the 50th anniversary year of the EMF and 7812 fresh from its full overhaul, we’re delighted that the summer-season hire will help maximise the opportunities for supporters and the wider public to enjoy the sight and sound of 7812 in action.”
After appearing at the WSR throughout the summer, 7812 will return to the SVR in the autumn, to take up duties for the rest of the season, especially during the run-up to Christmas, which is traditionally the busiest time of the year at the SVR.
Image: 7812 'Erlestoke Manor' on the wheel drop inside the refurbished loco shed at Bridgnorth. Will Marsh
March update from the SVR Charitable Trust
Ron Treverton-Jones has taken on the role of acting chairman, following the resignation of Tim Hargest from the board of trustees. Previously the vice-chair, Ron has been a trustee since 2017, and his involvement with the organisation goes back even further, thanks to his membership of the CT’s investment committee in an advisory capacity.
Meanwhile, the CT reports that the fundraising total for the Bridgnorth Yard project now stands at more than £274,000 – you can read a detailed progress report on the delivery of this important infrastructure improvement elsewhere in this edition. Further donations are very welcome at https://my.svr.co.uk/donate/q/33
Also, the CT has submitted an application on behalf of the SVR to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for up to £250,000 to enable the Railway to undertake a restructure of its business in order to improve its resilience for the future. It hopes to receive a decision on this within the next few weeks.
Archive copies of SVR News
Reader of Branch Lines Lynne Fowler has contacted us, with the offer of a collection of SVR News magazines, dating from 1970 to 2002, all in storage binders.
She would love these to go to a new home and has offered them free to any SVR supporter who could collect them from her home in Wigan, Greater Manchester.
“These belonged to my late husband Alan,” explain Lynne. “We discovered the SVR in 1970, returning from holiday. We stopped at Bridgnorth for a break, and Alan’s built-in steam-train antenna switched on. Soon he was a shareholder, and we visited as often as we could. In more recent years, Alan loved watching his beloved trains on the SVR’s Railcam network, after he was unable to visit in person.
If you’re interested, please contact Lynne at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Turning the clock back at Arley
David Skitt of Arley Station House has been in touch with an unusual tale, and he’s hoping one of our readers might be able to shed more light on things.
“At the beginning of February, a lady came to the Station House,” David told Branch Lines, “saying that she had a clock which should belong at Arley. When they cleared their house for moving, they found the clock which had belonged to her grandfather, although he was not the original recipient. I fetched it out of the boot of her car - it is solid marble and very heavy, and she said that there was a plaque on it. I wiped the dust off the clock, and cleaned the plaque. It says: 'Presented to Frederick Tame by the inhabitants of Arley, in appreciation of his 9 years’ service at the Railway Station. April 1902.’
"So I’m wondering if anyone can shed any light on who Frederick Tame was, and why the inhabitants of Arley presented him with a clock?”
In 2020 Chris Haynes researched early GWR staff records. In the station record for 1898 the second entry is a porter on £1 a week leaving in 1902, whose name in copperplate writing looks to be the said Tame. The record shows he then moved to Yarnton station, Oxfordshire.
It doesn't however answer David’s second question: if the recipient was a porter, then what did he do to be given such an expensive clock?
If you have any further information, David would love to hear from you at email@example.com .
v1 9th March 2023
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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.