May 2017

Visiting 9F No 92214 approaches waterworks crossing with an afternoon service on 9th April, By Ian Murray

Welcome to your latest edition of Branch Lines!

 

We were delighted with the number of people who have asked to join the Branch Lines mailing list, and the numbers are growing all the time. If you know an SVR member or shareholder who would like to be included, please ask them to email branchlines@svrlive.com

 

After the first ever edition last month, we’ve had some great feedback from readers. Mike Ellis contacted us from Whangamata, New Zealand to say: “Thank you for a really great new newsletter, especially for those far away. Very well presented and readable”.  And Richard Norman got in touch to say “A great little online mag”. Thanks very much guys!

In this month’s Branch Lines, we have a report from Bridgnorth, where the first bricks were laid just a few days ago for the new refreshment room, and an update on the progress of the Share Offer. We reflect on the success of last month’s Open House event and there’s news from the SVR Charitable Trust as it edges ever closer to the match funding deadline on achieving £1 million in the endowment Future Fund. Plus we’ve plenty of other happenings from around the wonderful Severn Valley Railway. 

Please do get in touch with your views and photographs. Just email branchlines@svrlive.com

Simon Turner & Lesley Carr, Co-Editors 

Picture by Ian Murray

Another restoration by our Carriage & Wagon Department 

 

BR Mark 1 Corridor Second No 25498 has very recently rejoined the cream and carmine set, after undergoing restoration in the Carriage Shed at Kidderminster.

 

Paint shop supervisor Hugh McQuade explains more about the how the work was carried out on this Charitable Trust-owned coach:

 

“The team included several volunteers along with a trainee, an apprentice and paid members of staff. We needed to repair the roof vents which were leaking and we did a repaint of the exterior. After the seats were reupholstered by an outside contractor, we refitted them. 

 

“This was a good opportunity for our two new recruits to get fully involved with a restoration project, and Matt Walford and Colin Harsley have definitely made their mark in C&W, alongside experienced staff and volunteers. Our apprentice Emma Harrison overhauled the door locks, and trainee Ronan O’Brien helped out with the roof repairs.”

 

“We’ve moved straight onto BR Mark 1 Brake Composite 21254. All 10 doors, including locks have been serviced, and a full repaint is underway. Each repaint the team tackles brings ever increasing technical challenges, and this one is no exception. They’re learning to fix transfers and to do some sign writing, all of which is part of the training.”  

Seasonal catering and shop vacancies

There are a number of vacancies across the Railway, available immediately until the end of September, in the following areas:

  • Bar worker at the Railwayman’s Arms, Bridgnorth. Must be 18 years or older

  • Catering assistant at the Engine House, Highley

  • Catering assistant at the buffet, Bewdley

  • Retail assistant for ice cream sales at the Kidderminster shop ​

Previous experience may be an advantage but recruitment is all about attitude, and training can be provided. The Railway is looking for hard-working individuals who have an excellent approach to customer service and are flexible in their approach. Employment will be on a variable hours’ contract to allow flexibility so the roles could also be offered on a job-share basis. 

To apply, please email: samantha.cottrell@svrlive.com for Railwayman’s Arms, Bridgnorthnicky.vale@svrlive.com for Engine House, Highley and the Buffet, Bewdley, and andrew.burton@svrlive.comfor the Shop, Kidderminster  The roles will be advertised on www.indeed.co.uk and on www.svr.co.uk .Please pass on the details to anyone you know who is looking for work this summer.

AGM for SVR-G  Company on 8th July

 

The Annual General Meeting of the Severn Valley Railway Company (the ‘Guarantee’ Company) will take place on Saturday 8th July at 7.30 pm in Castle Hall, West Castle Street, Bridgnorth. 

Making the announcement, SVR-G Chairman David Williams also invited nominations from members for directorships, and asked for these to be made in writing, signed by both the proposer and the nominee, and sent in a secure envelope, clearly marked ‘AGM Nomination’ to:

Mr D L Mellor 

3 Frederick Road

Sutton Coldfield

West Midlands

B73 5QW

 

Nominations should be received not more than 56 and not less than 35 days before the AGM, ie between 13th May and 3rd June.

 David added:

“We usually include a brief printed CV of each nominee with the Annual Report and Accounts and AGM Notice. If a nominee would like this, we must have their nomination and CV at least 42 days before the AGM, (27th May) so that the Secretary can process it and ensure uniformity within the documents. Please keep CVs to a maximum of 200 words.

“Additionally, we would like to ask Members not to send in proxy forms for the AGM by recorded delivery or registered post. This is because the Secretary is not always at home to receive them, and faces a time-consuming trip to the sorting office as a result. In this case, it’s clear that ‘best’ is ‘worst’!” 

Amy puts her design skills to good use

Amy Baker started volunteering in the Charitable Trust’s office at Comberton Place, Kidderminster in November, where she’s been busy working at many different aspects of fundraising. She even designed the labels for the Trust’s smart new collection pots.  

You’ll probably spot these distinctive pots at various locations around the Railway. Heritage Support have placed them in all the shops, bars and cafes, and there are plans to roll out the charity pot campaign to non-SVR locations as well. The Trust’s Shelagh Paterson explained there’s a dual purpose to them:

“As well as giving visitors somewhere to put their loose change, and maybe even bank notes if we’re lucky, these pots are also helping to get across an important message to our visitors. The fact is that many people don’t appreciate that while the revenue from tickets and secondary spend keeps the Railway running on a day-to-day basis, far more money is needed for the many restoration projects that are carried out here. Perhaps some visitors might even decide to go on and make a bigger donation to the Charitable Trust as a result of seeing the collection pots.”

If you have an idea for a location that you think would agree to have a collection pot on behalf of the SVR Charitable Trust, please contact fundraising@svrtrust.org.uk or phone 01562 757940. 

Students get a taste of work life at the SVR 

 

Over the summer a number of young people from schools in the region are spending a week at the Railway on unpaid work experience. Sixteen-year-old James Boswell (pictured) is a student at William Brookes School in Much Wenlock, Shropshire, and has just finished his placement at the Motive Power Department in Bridgnorth. James’s mum Sarah was full of praise for the MPD team for their support:

 

“James now has an insight into moving from full-time education to work. He’s developed his social skills, gained knowledge within MPD and learned how to address certain situations and matters. It will prove very valuable to him when he looks for full-time work in the future.” 

 

Over the coming months, more students will benefit from placements at the Railway. HR and HSTA manager Jane Preece co-ordinates these opportunities:

 

“For placements at Bridgnorth MPD, we require students to be 16 or over, and to be committed to studying engineering in the future. We can take students aged 15 or over at Carriage & Wagon in Kidderminster, or in our shops and cafes, but we do look for a commitment and desire to work at the SVR. Unfortunately we can’t take everyone, especially if the young person has hopes of progressing to engine driver by the end of their week!”

 

As a prominent regional employer, the Railway is a popular choice with students. Over the coming months, a further 16 young people will undertake their placements. It’s a vital part of learning, as Matt Delo, Stourport High School’s assistant director of learning explains:

 

“We believe that giving our students a taste of what life is like in the real working world is invaluable for their progression and development into young adults. We are hugely appreciative to all the generous local businesses that offer placements and give our students the experience to help them make successful life choices in the future.” 

 

Jane Preece added:

“It’s thanks to departmental managers like Hugh McQuade, Neil Taylor, Andrew Burton and their teams that we’re able to offer these fantastic opportunities to young people. We get such positive feedback from students, parents and schools, which makes it all worthwhile.”

Open House event pulls in the crowds

Passenger numbers for last month’s Open House event were up significantly on the previous year, with 2,181 paying passengers over the two days. That represented an increase of more than 21%. And of course, the figure doesn’t take into account those people using free travel passes, such as an Annual Family Pass or Shareholder Medallions, or the numbers of pre-paid ‘Freedom of the Line’ tickets.

Visitors were treated to 30 model railway layouts, the chance to drive a Class 50 and a host of behind-the-scenes tours at many different locations. Add in the fantastic spring weather, and it proved to be a thoroughly enjoyable weekend all round.

Event co-ordinator Lewis Maddox paid tribute to all the effort that had gone into the weekend:

“Open House takes a considerable amount of time to set up, and I’d like to thank all the staff involved in the preparation, running and take-down of the event. We were all very pleased to stick our feet up Sunday evening!”

The good news doesn’t stop there because more than £5,000 worth of shares for the Bridgnorth Project were purchased at Bridgnorth and Kidderminster during the weekend, which is a fantastic achievement. And Charitable Trust staff were delighted to receive donations that came to more than £6,500, including Gift Aid.

Pictures by Ed Jones

Last few weeks to double donations to the Future Fund

There are fewer than eight weeks to go until the end of the Heritage Lottery Fund’s offer to double donations made to the SVR Charitable Trust’s endowment Future Fund.

The Trust is edging ever closer to its target, with £950,000 of the £1 million in place. However, there’s the last £25,000 still to find in donations, which will be doubled by HLF, to bring the total to that magic £1 million. The Trust’s Director of Development, Shelagh Paterson, is appealing to those closest to the Railway to help close the gap:

“As supporters, we know that you care deeply about the future of the Railway. Please would you help us now, to whatever extent you can? With the HLF match funding in place, this really is the best time to make a donation. If you’re a taxpayer we can claim an extra 25% Gift Aid, and HLF will double the total.

“This is a fantastic opportunity to make every pound count twice, and to build up an endowment fund that is being invested to provide income for the long-term future of the Severn Valley Railway.”

The Charitable Trust is very much under the HLF radar at the moment. They’ve submitted another grant bid to HLF, for a further £1 million towards the restoration of Falling Sands Viaduct. By reaching the £1 million target for the endowment fund, the Trust will prove it can deliver on its promises, and that it’s a worthy candidate for future funding. 

Please download an endowment form to make your contribution.http://svrtrust.org.uk/download/get/donation-form-for-endowment-fund/107.html

Simon Hart takes over as accountant and company secretary

Almost as soon as the Railway had waved goodbye to retiring accountant Matthew Harris, we were welcoming his replacement, Simon Hart. 

A qualified chartered accountant, Simon has many years’ experience in senior finance roles. He has worked in privately owned SME’s, playing a key role in the senior management teams, working closely with, and influencing, commercial operations.  He spent 10 years as finance and commercial director at Arbil Limited. Based in Lye, Arbil is a long-established lifting gear company that manufactures, distributes, services and hires a comprehensive range of equipment, including products relevant to the rail industry.  Simon has also worked for Bass Brewers and is familiar with the pub and hospitality trade.  

He lives in Malvern with his wife Georgina, and loves any activities that combine meeting people, fresh air and exercise, including golf, cricket and walking.

Simon is looking forward to his new role with the SVR:

“This is a unique opportunity to use my skill set in an exciting environment, drawing on my relevant industry background and financial experience. I’m particularly looking forward to working with all the dedicated and passionate individuals who make up the SVR, providing an unforgettable visitor experience whilst preserving the unrivalled heritage.”

Over the Easter period, Simon made the most of the daily running to visit all the stations and departments based along the Railway.

First bricks laid at Bridgnorth

 

On Wednesday 5th May, the eyes of the world were on Bridgnorth station as the first bricks for the development project were laid. Seven former railway workers were guests of honour at the ceremony, marking a key milestone in the development project, with the start of above-ground construction.

 

Former BR engineer Phil Coutanche, Bridgnorth delivery drivers Mike Corbett and Chris Jennerson, Tyseley Driver John Hill, signalman’s inspector Ray Court and Kidderminster-based engine driver Barry Cook joined current SVR volunteers of all ages, to lay the first key bricks for the new refreshment room.

 

The younger volunteer generation was represented by 17-year-old Will Pedersen, and 16-year-old Leo Roberts.  Keith Beddoes, widely credited as being the founding member of the SVR, also joined in the ceremony.

 

The event fired the imagination of the media as journalists from local newspapers, radio and TV crowded into Bridgnorth Station, keen to capture a piece of history.

 

Our photo shows Ray Court, who began as a porter at Bewdley station, then went on to become a signalman at Kidderminster and eventually signalman’s inspector.

 

See our separate article ‘Share offer approaches £1.2 million’ for more information about the funding for the Bridgnorth Development Project.

 

For regular updates about the progress of the development, visit http://www.svrlive.com/bridgnorth-development

Share offer approaches £1.2million

 

Applications to purchase shares to fund the Bridgnorth Station development have now passed £1.1m, six months into the share offer campaign.

 

Meanwhile April was a busy month on the build with the selection of the most historically-accurate mortar for the build, the last push on the base, and the final concrete pour. With foundations now in place, the first tranche of 8,000 facing bricks arrived ready for the bricklaying to commence on the retaining walls.  

 

A bricklaying ceremony took place on Wednesday, 3rd May, involving some of the original volunteers from the 1960s and some of today’s young volunteers. See ‘First bricks laid at Bridgnorth’ article for more information on this.

 

There is real excitement as the Bridgnorth Development Team’s long-held vision starts to rise from the ground and it’s hoped this tangible progress will encourage those who have not yet purchased their shares to do so!

 

Nearly 1.5 million shares are still available at a price of £1 each, and the Railway needs more sales to allow the completion of phase 1 of the project.  This includes not only the building of the new refreshment room in the Great Western building style, but also restoration of the booking hall to its former glory and the installation of a turntable to increase operational flexibility.

 

A digital and print media advertising and PR campaign is now underway to encourage further share applications.

Full share offer information can be found at www.svr.co.uk/shareoffer or by calling 01562 757900.

SVR volunteers save the day for Joshua

The Charitable Trust were delighted to receive a donation from John and Karen Baines recently, and have asked Branch Lines to share the story behind it, as it’s a great example of how the SVR goes above and beyond for its visitors.

The couple, from Ellesmere in Shropshire, came to the Railway with their three-year-old grandson Joshua for a fabulous day out on Saturday 15th April. Fabulous that is until Joshua became ill whilst travelling on both the 10.50 from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster and then again on the return train.

John takes up the story:

“We want to express our most sincere appreciation and gratitude for the way in which SVR staff helped us when Joshua became unwell. Regrettably we didn’t note the names of those involved but there was a lady ticket inspector, two gentlemen officials and a train guard. They were all so kind in helping us with the aftermath of Joshua’s ‘tummy problems’, which unfortunately struck twice. We’ve visited many heritage railways across the country, and we feel the volunteers at the SVR stand out clearly for the pride and dedication they have in their work. Please accept our donation and can you find a way of passing on our thanks?”

John, Karen and Joshua – we hope we’ve managed to do that!

The photo shows Karen Baines and her grandson Joshua during their visit.

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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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