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March 2018

The King on its first loaded test run from Highley to Bridgnorth on the 27/2/18 , seen approaching Hampton Loade, by Ian Murray

Welcome to your latest edition of Branch Lines!

Welcome to the March edition of Branch Lines! The big news this month is that the SVR Charitable Trust has received a development grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund that takes the Railway a step closer to being able to fully restore Falling Sands Viaduct. Plus we look ahead to the exciting Spring Steam Gala later this month, and the Open House weekend in April.

The intriguingly-named Wailing Wall Construction Company plc reveal what they’ve been up to in Bridgnorth, and the LNER Carriage Group in Bewdley have a rather specific appeal for help. With news of recent projects in the loco shed, on the P-Way and at the Bridgnorth building site, we’ve pretty much got it covered in Branch Lines this month.

Now, we do like to get our facts right, but slipped up last month when we said the GWR kitchen car 9615 was owned by the Charitable Trust. It is in fact owned by SVR (Holdings) plc, although the Charitable Trust is most definitely providing finance towards its restoration. Apologies, and thanks to Hugh McQuade, Charitable Trust chairman and paint shop supervisor, for the clarification. Glad to see someone’s paying attention!


Do you know anyone else who’d enjoy getting a monthly update of all things SVR? If so, please encourage them to sign up for Branch Lines. It’s very easy to do, by visiting and selecting the Branch Lines tick box.


Please do get in touch by emailing and let us know your SVR-related news and views as well. We love to hear from our readers, many of whom are geographically close to the Railway, and many who aren’t. We have avid readers from down the road and across the globe, with two things in common; they love heritage rail, and they love the Severn Valley!


Simon Turner & Lesley Carr, Co-Editors 

Picture by Ian Murray

HLF back SVR’s bid to restore Falling Sands Viaduct

The SVR Charitable Trust has received a development grant of almost £72,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to develop its joint plans with SVR Holdings to restore the viaduct at Falling Sands in Kidderminster.

An application for a full grant of almost £1 million will be submitted to the HLF in October this year, with a final decision expected early in 2019. The 141-year-old viaduct is a crucial part of the Railway’s operation but urgently needs extensive repairs to put right the erosion and damage caused by decades of penetrating water.

In order to help unlock the full amount of HLF funding, the Charitable Trust and the SVR must independently raise a further £275,000. In a few weeks, an appeal will be launched and preparations are well underway. Recently a professional drone camera crew were in action at the viaduct, filming for a promotional video to support the appeal.


The Trust’s Shelagh Paterson says, “We want to get the Railway’s close supporters, the general public and local businesses behind our bid to restore the viaduct. We’re going to raise the profile of this impressive structure, located less than half a mile from the centre of Kidderminster. We’ve got some exciting plans in store, including the chance for people the chance to add their names to the SVR’s first ever donation wall, and a film to promote our appeal. A professional drone camera crew was recently in action, taking some stunning shots of the viaduct.”

You can find out more, and make an early donation to this important project at…/falling-sands-viaduct.html

2017 passenger numbers

As expected, last year’s passenger numbers were lower than those for 2016, mainly because of the boost to 2016’s figures by the Pacific Power event with Flying Scotsman and Tornado, which attracted 14,000 passengers.

The 2017 Autumn Gala attracted 5,357 passengers in 2017, which was 8,643 below Pacific Power. Later in the year, the weather played its part; snowfall caused the cancellation of 4,000 passenger visits on Sunday 10th December.

General manager Nick Ralls said, “Our usual timetabled passenger numbers from October through the December Festive season were also affected by the weather and in total were 1,893 lower than budget. If these negative variances are added back in to the 2017 numbers, last year we would have finished ahead of 2016.”

Have you ever wanted to drive a modern diesel locomotive?

Working in partnership with our friends at GB Railfreight (GBRf), the Severn Valley Railway is excited to announce a number of exclusive Footplate Experience days using modern diesel locomotives.

Operating in June 2018, you could have the chance to take the controls of a modern diesel locomotive, hauling carriages or freight vehicles for 16 miles.

Believed to be a world first, members of the public will be able to drive a Class 66 or Class 73/1 locomotive along the whole length of the SVR between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth on June 4th or 5th.

Priced at £875 per person, all proceeds will go to GBRf’s chosen charity for 2018 and the SVR Charitable Trust.


The Class 66 will haul a heavy train of hopper wagons, with the chance to ride in a shark brake-van too, whilst the Class 73/1 will haul carriages, a sight rarely seen.

The whole day Experience also includes a tour of the Railway’s award-winning Diesel Depot at Kidderminster. The Class 66, first introduced to Britain’s railways in 1998, is the backbone of modern freight operations throughout the country, and has a whopping 3,000bhp engine. The Class 73/1s can normally be found on engineering trains in the south-east, and very rarely operate passenger trains.

There are only four places on each Experience, so don’t miss this fantastic opportunity to realise a lifelong ambition! For more information or to book, visit or call 01562 757900.




SVR is in the finals for another prestigious award​​

The Railway has reached the final for the Best Visitor Attraction in Shropshire, in the What's On Readers' Awards 2018.

These awards are decided by popular vote, so if you’d like to add yours, please visit and vote for the Railway in categories 40 and 78

SVR gets the accessibility ‘thumbs up’ from Kerry and David

Recently two willing volunteers visited Severn Valley Railway to check out the Railway’s accessibility for visitors who are wheelchair users or have limited mobility.

Kerry and David, who both come from Kidderminster, were delighted to find that the Railway is fully accessible, as they relaxed and enjoyed their day out. Travelling from Kidderminster to Highley in the converted LNER teak coach, David commented on how helpful the station and train staff were putting the ramps in place for easy access.

Following a visit to the Engine House and lunch, they returned to Bewdley where they were escorted safely across the line to the Bewdley Buffet for coffee and cake before their return trip to Kidderminster on the DMU, which was also easily accessed by a ramp.

Kerry said, “I absolutely loved going up the line, it was so much fun. I felt as though yesterday really helped me with boosting my confidence as an independent traveller.”

Reading about Kerry and David’s visit on Facebook, Jacqueline Thomas posted, “I am a wheelchair user who has an SVR Membership. I’ve also featured you on my disabled camping/travel blog called “Travels with Henry” more than once showing my adventures on your wonderful trains. It’s a great day out and I’m looking forward to the upcoming Spring Gala this year.”

There’s more on the SVR’s accessibility at


Spring Steam Gala line up

The magnificent Collett-designed engine 6023 'King Edward II' will be one of the star attractions at the Spring Steam Gala later this month, on 16th-18th March.

Other visiting locomotives include:

· LNER B1 No. 1264

· LNER B12 No. 8572

· LNER A1 No. 60163 Tornado BR Standard 4MT No. 80072 Haydock Foundry Bellerophon


The fantastic selection of visiting locomotives will be supported by members of our home fleet, including 1450, 1501 & 7714. Attractions include:

· Local trains between Bewdley and Kidderminster with Bellerophon

· Early morning and evening trains

· Double-headed tank engines

· B12 paired with our beautiful rake of LNER Teak carriages

· Intensive timetable

· Paddock Railway at Hampton Loade & Coalyard Miniature Railway in steam

· Kidderminster Railway Museum open

· Eardington Halt open for visits (no trains will stop at the station) Book tickets at


Photo of King Edward II by Steven Reid

Open House weekend

On Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th of April, the SVR will be opening its doors wide, as it hosts the annual Open House event. More than 30 model railway layouts will be on display and there’ll be a range of behind-the-scenes tours, and a whole host of other attractions up and down the line.

This special weekend is aimed at the Railway’s close supporters, volunteers and potential volunteers. If you’d like to join them please visit for more information. Normal fares apply, and working member’s and shareholder’s passes are valid.

2018 fares to increase in line with other attractions

Fares for 2018 have increased by approximately 6%, including Freedom of the Line tickets and part-line fares. It’s also been decided to remove the senior discount on FOTL tickets to bring the SVR in line with other visitor attractions and heritage railways.

The adult/senior fare will be £21 (pre-book £19.50).

Seniors will still receive a discount on premium-fare special events, such as Galas and the 1940s events. On-the-day fares for special events have been set at £29 for adults and £27 for seniors.


The Railwayman’s Arms pub at Bridgnorth needs a hard-working barperson, with a flexible approach and a talent for excellent customer service. Phone 01562 757900 or email your CV to



The SVR’s education department is seeking a number of hourly-paid education assistants to deliver pre-written education programmes to schools and groups and lead hands-on curriculum-based activities at the Engine House, Highley or along the Severn Valley Railway. You will be expected to take part in character-based role play activities and accompany the school/group on train to Engine House, Highley to and from departing stations, usually Kidderminster or Bridgnorth. Please send a CV and covering letter to by 11th March.


There are also opportunities for volunteer education support assistants.

See for more details on all these positions.

A busy programme of winter works


Infrastructure manager Chris Bond reports on a great effort by staff and volunteers to get everything in shape for the February half term running week:


“A flurry of ballast trains using our recently acquired Sea Cow hoppers and a four-day visit from the tamper ensured all was ready for the half term trains. The track at County Boundary has been returned to line speed and improved riding along the line in general has been reported. The plain line in Kidderminster Yard is now much improved.


“In the non-running weeks following half term, we’re carrying out further works to make use of the time available. Up in the cutting by Bewdley Tunnel, contractors and volunteers are clearing the more difficult-to-reach vegetation that has grown up since last cleared a number of years ago. This will be supplemented by clearance by volunteers on top of the cutting in due course.


“At Bewdley North crossover, the central section of the assembly that includes the crossing blocks has been dismantled. This job was programmed for several years’ time but due to its rapidly worsening condition, we took the opportunity to tackle this now. Around 20 badly rotted timbers have been replaced and some new ironwork inserted. The job is taking place over two weeks, with the mainline being restored for the intervening weekend. This will mean the down main through platform 1 will be out of use but the operations teams have ensured we can still cross trains using the island platform.


“The Bridgnorth gang will also be using the time to bring in a mini digger to sort out some badly dipped joints, just to the north of Country Park Halt. By excavating well down and filling the resultant hole with fresh ballast, this will provide a more solid foundation to pack the joints level and for them to stay that way.”


Photo credits: Keith Brown and Leigh King

Things are really taking shape at Bridgnorth


The cold weather may not be much of a help, but nevertheless the new refreshment building moves ever closer to completion, as infrastructure manager Chris Bond reports:


“With the chimneys now finished and really looking the part, and the installation of the windows and doors underway, the photos here show that we’re now really putting some soul into the building.


The large amount of cast iron guttering required for the building was supplied in natural finish, but this has been painted up in a specially installed, heated container and is ready for fitting.


“The flat roof is now just waiting for the weather to improve. The zinc covering requires a rising temperature above 7.5 C, to shape around the formers without tearing. The subcontractors are forming as much off site as possible in heated workshops, to speed up the installation. The roofing slates are due for delivery on 8th March, with the main pitch roof work starting on the 12th. We’re now nearing a time where the scaffolding will be dismantled to reveal the true character of the building and early indications are that it will be magnificent!


“Finally, in the services room located in the adjacent listed building, all the underground ducts are now in, along with various cables. The exterior approach has been 75% reinstated, and the only remaining task to install a concrete floor and internal block wall will be carried out by volunteers on the station.”

News from the Loco Shed

Shed master Martin White reports on a packed work programme at Bridgnorth, but starts his monthly update with a question.

What do the following have in common; someone who has done 100 mph on the footplate of ‘Tornado’, a current director of the Llangollen Railway, a one-time director of SVR (Holdings) and the SVR Charitable Trust, and the tower captain for the bellringers of St Leonards, Bridgnorth?

Answer: They, along with many others, were volunteering in the works at Bridgnorth on Saturday 27th January and were photographed by Adam Thomas posing in front of 34027 ‘Taw Valley’ which was having the front end dismantled.

The expected locomotive demand and availability for the 2018 running season, and the planned winter maintenance at Bridgnorth ESMP, had to take into account that valve and piston (V&P) examinations would become due for two locomotives in addition to the work already underway on 2857. Both 7802 ‘Bradley Manor’ and 34027 ‘Taw Valley’ would reach their V&P mileage limits before the end of 2018, which would necessitate stripping down the front end of the locos to remove their valves and pistons, measuring and assessing the wear in the valve and cylinder bores and making good any refurbishments or repairs identified.

The decision was made to do the V&P for 34027 now, slightly ahead of its targeted mileage, so that the loco should be available for the whole of the main running season. Removal of sections of running plate, valve and cylinder covers and the valves and pistons themselves was largely undertaken by volunteers. This was then followed by paid engineering personnel undertaking the more technical work. 34027 was found to be largely in good order with only the middle valve chest requiring any significant attention, in the form of a re-bore, which was carried out in mid-February. 7802 has more mileage available than 34027 before it reaches the targeted mileage for its V&P exam, and this will take place later in the year.

For 2857, winter maintenance amounts to a substantial, intermediate repair which commenced in September 2017. Primarily this involves a replacement of all the small boiler tubes and an extensive V&P overhaul including the manufacture and fitting of cylinder liners, new valve spindles, new valve and piston heads and numerous other new or refurbished components. Before these tasks could be undertaken a considerable amount of dismantling of the locomotive was necessary. In order to bore out the cylinders, so that the new liners can be installed, the pony truck had to be removed, along with various parts of the loco valve gear and running plate. For small tube removal, the fittings in the smoke box including blast pipe, petticoat, main steam pipes, super-heaters and header all had to be removed. Much of this preparatory work and some of the tube removal were undertaken by weekend volunteers, with paid staff doing the more skilled tasks, and this resulted in a seven-days-a-week workload for a time.

The cylinder liners have been machined at Bridgnorth, along with valve and piston components. The liners themselves are a size that is the limit of our capability, only just fitting on the boring machines. To be fitted they will be shrunk by being submerged in liquid nitrogen. It’s not a unique or new undertaking for ESMP, but it’s not done very frequently either. Work is now underway to produce some special jigs and fixings to enable the liners to be installed quickly once they are removed from the nitrogen tank. In the meantime, the boiler smiths have installed the new small tubes. If all goes to plan with the installation of the cylinder liners, pistons, valves, smoke box fittings, 2857 should be tested and back in traffic during April and be in fine fettle to celebrate its 100th birthday this summer.

So, the start of the 2018 season will, with any luck, have gone to plan and seen 43106, 7802 and 1501 in use. A few repairs on 7714 are being completed and it, along with 1450, is scheduled to operate in the Spring Gala. 34027 and 2857 should be available in the not-too-distant future. However, 43106 will then need to be taken out of service in April for some planned and essential work which it is anticipated will take just a few weeks

Student film project documents steam preservation

A group of university students recently spent a weekend at the Railway, to film sections of their project ‘Survival of Steam’.

The SVR looks wonderful, and it’s an honour, as always, to see our Railway on film!

The project is an engaging brief history of contemporary railways, documenting the triumphant preservation efforts of volunteers following the fall of steam in Britain. See ‘Survival of Steam’ using this link:

There’s no limit to the craftsmanship at Bridgnorth


The Bridgnorth-based Wailing Wall Construction Company plc* is keeping very busy with a number of refurbishment projects around the station, not least of which has been the fitting of new handrails to the footbridge. WWCC member Robin Pearson brings us up-to-date with the group’s work:


“The handrails are made of hard wood, and in a joint operation with our colleagues at Bewdley, they were machined to profile. After careful measurement and fettling, they were subjected to our standard six-coats-of-paint treatment, in order to withstand being outside in all weathers and being in constant use.


“We’re also replacing all the station waste bins. The originals were constructed from pallet wood and are well past their sell by date. In line with our policy of recycling, the old waste bins will be returned to the Loco Department wood pile, where they will finally be used for their original purpose in lighting up our steam engines.

There’s also a rolling programme to refurbish the many platform benches, and we’ll soon be replacing the weather boarding on the signal box, once we’ve found a suitable timber supplier. *The Wailing Wall Construction Company plc is a loose association of various working members, whose lifetimes of skills are employed in all aspects of infrastructure maintenance around the Bridgnorth site. The ‘plc' suffix in the name was the product of one member’s imagination, and stands for ‘Pretty Limited Craftsmen’. Robin points out that whilst this is not strictly true, it sums up the whole ethos of the group.

Photo credit: Sue Thomas

Copper sheet needed to aid carriage restoration

The LNER Carriage Group has asked for some very specific, and slightly unusual, help from Branch Lines readers. They’ve recently begun their latest project to restore (deep breath!) a GWR carriage.


5043 used to be the workshop of the 2857 Group, but is being restored and transformed into a wheelchair-accessible buffet car, to operate with set GW2. Volunteer Richard Gunning explains more:

“Quite soon we’ll be attaching steel panels to the wooden frame, and welding them together to make a continuous side. This process will be made much easier if we can obtain some copper sheet to act as a temporary backer and heat sink during the welding process.

Do any Branch Lines readers have some thin sheet copper, such as a scrap hot water cylinder that they would be prepared to donate to the project?”


If you’re in a position to pass on some very helpful sheet copper, you’ll find the group working on 5043 next to the ash skip at Bewdley, most Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Or contact

Looking for a retirement home with views of the SVR in Bewdley?

A delightful first-floor retirement apartment for over 55's located in the exclusive cul-de-sac development of 'Stephenson Place', convenient for Bewdley town centre with views of the communal gardens and magnificent Severn Valley Railway's Wribbenhall Viaduct.


Accommodation includes: Entrance Hallway, Lounge, Kitchen, Two Bedrooms & Shower Room.

For more information and to arrange a viewing CLICK HERE or CALL DODDINGTREE 01299 488870.

General view of the property

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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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