75069 is seen soon after departing Hampton Loade on the 29th April 2019. By Ian Murray
Welcome to your latest edition of Branch Lines!
We're more than half way through May already – how did that happen? We’re not sure either, but we are happy to welcome you to the latest edition of Branch Lines, the e-newsletter for SVR shareholders, members and supporters. We hope you will enjoy this month’s offering, which comes packed with news from many different corners of the line.
General manager Nick Ralls shares news of what’s planned next for the Bridgnorth project, following the opening of the new refreshment room. We meet a newly refurbished carriage that’s set to cause a stir when it goes into service on the SVR, plus there’s news from Bridgnorth MPD, Kidderminster TMD, Bewdley station,The Engine House, Highley and we learn how an enterprising group of young volunteers put on their own rather unusual train service, the ‘Rag Express’.
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Simon Turner & Lesley Carr, Co-Editors
Picture by Ian Murray
Next steps for Bridgnorth
Following the opening of the new refreshment room at Bridgnorth, general manager Nick Ralls has set out the next steps for the Bridgnorth project, which will see the installation of the renovated Bath Road, Bristol turntable, the renewal of track work in the motive power yard and the construction of a new locomotive pit. Nick explained more about phase III:
“Chris Bond and Alan Davies are working with the Turntable Fund to produce a cost for this phase of the project, using the SVR’s recently formulated ‘Guidelines for Building and Civil Engineering Projects’. If the proposal gets board approval in June, construction on the turntable pit and the track work may start as early as this year.
“We will be considering the impact of undertaking this work in 2019 and any potential of conflict with other capital projects on the Railway and on Santa 2019 operations. There will be further updates on this new phase following the June board meeting.
“The station building and bar extension have not been forgotten. Whilst outline plans exist for the building, further work is required to prepare a fully costed project. With much of the available resource focussed on phase III turntable and track work reconfiguration, we cannot progress on the planning work for the station building and bar extension until after June 2019.
“Directors are aware that the Bridgnorth master plan provided for a volunteer accommodation block behind the boiler shop on the northern field. The block contained accommodation and storage for engineering services beneath it. Recently, the Railway has secured the rental of storage along Station Lane and therefore a storage block is not urgently required. This being the case, the boards of directors with the Bridgnorth accommodation committee will be reconsidering how best to provide volunteer accommodation at Bridgnorth. This is unlikely to commence until 2021 because of the current commitments on civils and building projects.
“It is very satisfying to see that the success of the 2016 share offer means the Railway has already realised the delivery of two Bridgnorth project phases; phase I - the refreshment room and toilet block, and phase II - the car park and access roads. This is not the end of the story and I hope you can see that real progress is being made in the delivery of another phase, potentially in 2019. Thank you for your support.”
Another jewel in the SVR’s crown
The smiles say it all! A number of the team members behind our latest carriage restoration gathered for a photo opportunity last week as they showed off the almost-finished BR Mark 1 No 80776.
This Charitable Trust-funded project has enabled the creation of a unique wheelchair-accessible dining car, the only one of its type in heritage rail. It has an unusual zigzag table arrangement to allow maximum flexibility for different seating arrangements. After visiting the carriage & wagon works in Kidderminster, general manager Nick Ralls said, “It was a pleasure to see 80776, a vehicle that the team should be very proud of. Thanks to the SVR Charitable Trust for funding this restoration through the generosity of individual donations and a significant grant obtained from the Department for Transport.”
Engineering services manager Neil Taylor added, “Looking at this carriage, what becomes clear is the extent of the vision, dedication and effort that has been put into it, not just during the three years of build, but in the time leading up to it when the idea was hatched. We’re making plans to launch and promote the carriage and look forward to it entering service later this season.”
Plants for Commemorative Garden
The Commemorative Garden that the Charitable Trust is creating at The Engine House, Highley moved a step closer to completion this week, when volunteer gardener Bob Mitchell collected a significant donation of plants from B&Q Kidderminster. In consultation with B&Q advisors Alex Kennedy and Josie Sidebotham, Bob selected a variety of plants:
“I wanted to use hardy, drought-resistant plants that will come back, year after year. This collection that B&Q have kindly donated includes lavender, sedums and grasses, plus I’ve brought in some very successful tall daisies from my own garden.”
It’s hoped the garden will be open to visitors soon, as the Charitable Trust’s Lesley Carr explained:
“There are a few, final tasks to carry out before it’s all ready. We need to add a final covering of decorative stone and install some curved benches. This is going to be a very special area for people to remember their loved ones, and the connection they had with the Railway, and it will be open to all Engine House visitors.”
You can donate online to help fund projects like the Commemorative Garden at www.svrtrust.org.uk .
SVR defibrillator is a life saver
The Kidderminster Shuttle recently reported that five police officers will receive awards from the Royal Humane Society for saving the life of 70-year-old Terry Quirk after he had a heart attack and collapsed near the SVR’s Kidderminster town station. The police officers were able to help the pensioner using the debrillator that is kept on the station concourse.
The SVR’s safety advisor Mel Cook says that the incident, which took place last September, shows the important role that the Railway plays in the local community:
“This defibrillator was one of four we purchased in 2013 and had been well maintained by station staff. It was instrumental and effective in saving this gentleman’s life. It shows the Railway in a very positive light, and is a clear example of how we are contributing to local safety and well being.
“We also have defibrillators at Arley and Bridgnorth stations and The Engine House, Highley. If any SVR department or station would like to provide a defibrillator in addition to those already in situ I am very happy to give advice and our first aid supplier can offer us these appliances at a good discount.”
Contact Mel on firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo from the Kidderminster Shuttle shows PC Sam Maher and Terry Quirk on the station concourse
Changes to board of Charitable Trust
At the Annual General Meeting of the SVR Charitable Trust on 8th April 2019 the following changes were announced:
•Chairman Hugh McQuade and trustee Roger Scanlon stepped down from their roles
•John Leftwich took on the role of interim Chairman
•Two new trustees have joined the board: David Owen OBE (shown right) and Paul Fathers (shown left)
Commenting on the changes, chairman of SVR Holdings and fellow trustee Nick Paul said:
“Hugh’s input from the beginning of the discussions to enlarge the remit of the Charity until the present day has been crucial to its success. He recognised from the outset that we needed to become professional fundraisers, and has supported the Charity to the hilt throughout his time as chairman.”
Under Hugh’s chairmanship, the Trust has contributed over £1.5 million to Railway projects, created a £1.3 million endowment fund and recently won a bid for £850k for Falling Sands Viaduct from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
Nick added: “Roger brought a vast amount of hands-on rolling stock experience to the board, as a locomotive driver of more than 30 years vintage. He started his volunteering career with the Railway in 1971.
“We are hugely thankful to both Hugh and Roger for everything they have done for the Charity, and wish them well with their future SVR endeavours.”
At the AGM, the Trustees unanimously voted in John Leftwich as interim chairman. John has been spearheading the Trust’s fundraising efforts since 2012, with commendable success. His background in sales and marketing, as marketing vice president for Microsoft for 10 years, have helped him shape the Trust's fundraising efforts.
Welcoming the new trustees, John Leftwich commented:
“David Owen’s involvement with the SVR started back in 1973, when his company Rubery Owen bought 150,000 shares to support the extension of the line from Hampton Loade to Bewdley. He served as a director of SVR Holdings until last year, and brings a vast amount of business acumen to his role with the Charity.
“Paul Fathers will be well known to many people on the SVR. He’s been a staunch supporter and volunteer since his teenage years back in the 1960s. He brings a wealth of experience with him, and will play a key role in assisting the Charity to develop its fundraising strategy and contribute to its governance.”
David and Paul join existing trustees John Leftwich, Nick Paul, David Williams, David Mead, Ron Treverton-Jones and Peter Copsey.
Tap to Give™ trial at Kidderminster station
The Charitable Trust is introducing a new way for people to make small, quick donations to the SVR. It’s putting in a Tap to Give™ device on the concourse at Kidderminster station. An eye-catching poster invites visitors to ‘donate now’ to help get 4930 Hagley Hall back in steam, and all that’s needed is a contactless credit or debit card.
Donors simply use their card to Tap to Give™ using the device installed within the body of the poster frame. The default donation is £3, but they can choose to increase this if they wish. The Charitable Trust’s Shelagh Paterson hopes the new method will prove popular:
“We think this is going to make it very easy for people to show their appreciation and give a little back following a fantastic day out on the Railway. We’ve spoken to another leading heritage railway where they’ve already had a good response with their own Tap to Give™ device. If it proves successful for us, we’ll roll it out to other parts of the SVR.”
Our pioneering Heritage Skills Training Academy is recruiting two apprentices to take up their posts from August 2019, and to commence their engineering apprenticeship qualifications through Dudley College in September.
All apprenticeship vacancies are advertised through the National Apprenticeship Scheme. You can find full details and make an application at:
Please note the SVR cannot accept applications directly.
Volunteer shed master Martin White sends this report covering April’s highs and lows
Even by our standards, it’s been a busy month! Open House Weekend in the Motive Power Depot was very popular; I am sure that a significant factor in this is the rarity value. This is now the only time in the year when we open our doors to all-comers. A lot of preparation is required, to make the site as safe as possible for our visitors by cordoning off walking routes etc. Despite all of this, there was still a mishap in the main shed which was categorised as reportable. We’ve already identified some improvements to try and prevent a reoccurrence. Open House also means extra volunteering and rostering of MPD staff to act as stewards and guides, and information boards have to be produced or brought up-to-date. Like most special events on The Valley, it’s the behind-the-scenes work that makes Open House successful.
A week after Open House, the main running season commenced. In reality, the number of charters and footplate experience trains meant seven-days-a-week running had started a week and half before then. It didn’t take long before events started to conspire against the engineering teams and we started to run out of available steam motive power.
2857 broke a driving wheel spring on the Saturday of Open House, but was repaired and back in traffic by the following Tuesday.
7802 suffered some brake issues, which eventually necessitated the front bogie being removed so that the loco brake cylinder could be stripped down. This work took the best part of a week to sort out.
The early season dry weather didn’t help; 7714 had to be withdrawn from traffic as it was causing lineside fires due to hot embers falling from its hopper ash pan. A replacement, ‘traditional’, flat ashpan is currently being installed. This was work we had planned to do before the main summer period, but we have had to bring it forward.
75069 became due for a boiler wash-out and the opportunity was taken to examine a steam leak that had been noticed coming from under the boiler cladding. This was resolved by one of the boilersmiths caulking a couple of dome rivets, but meant the loco was unavailable for a couple of extra days
1501 was away at the South Devon Railway (although unfortunately 1450 wasn’t finished in time to participate there.)
43106 and 1450 were still undergoing valve and piston (V&P) work
The rostered services remained steam-hauled, albeit there were a few days when no spare loco was available.
At the end of April, 1501 is in service having returned from South Devon, 813 is having a scheduled wash-out after a trip to East Anglia and 4144 is also being washed out. Now that the work on 1450 is completed, it has gone to Didcot for a few months.
Photo by Martin White shows 7714’s new flat ash pan being constructed. Notice there are no bottom doors for the cinders to fall out of, and the hinged opening damper door at the front
News from the Kidderminster Traction Motor Depot
Our thanks to Roland Bull who has sent some of his photographs showing aspects of the work that’s been taking place over the last month in and around the traction motive department at Kidderminster. Over to Roland:
“Up on the jacks you can see 50049. It’s been lifted for attention to the traction motor gear cases (welding some cracks) and replacement of the Motak lubricant.
“Outside in the yard, this group of volunteers has been smoothing out the ballast as part of a project to widen the roadway for better emergency vehicle access. Pictured left to right are Jacob Hardcastle, Harry Storer, Jack Baldwin, Jeff Atkins and Matthew Moore.”
The ‘Rag Express’
In mid-April, an exclusive train service took place on the Railway, the result of a rather innovative idea dreamt up by a group of young volunteers from Kidderminster’s traction maintenance depot. Josh Eaton got in touch to let us know all about it:
“One of the TMD volunteers works in a laundry and was offered an 18-tonne delivery of unwanted table cloths and napkins. Of course, these are much in demand at the SVR where they’re used for cleaning, wiping down parts and lighting up steam locomotives.
“While we were helping to sort out the rags and loading them into a Siphon for storage, we came up with the idea of the ‘Rag Express’. On 14th April, we were able to arrange for ourselves and the Siphon to go on a round trip of the line to deliver supplies of rags to all the stations, signal boxes and MPDs. It was a major success and got the TMD a lot of goodwill!”
Josh is one of a group of ex-members of the SVR Junior Club, aged between 14 and 16 and mentored by volunteer Roland Bull at Kidderminster TMD. They meet most Saturdays and their tasks range from cleaning up the TMD and area around the yard to learning about the locomotives and shunting.
Photo caption: From left to right, Josh Eaton, Jacob Hardcastle, Jack Baldwin and Matthew Moore
Stonework replacement continues at Bewdley
The SVR’s ‘resident’ stonemason Philip Chatfield has contacted us, with photographs of the work he’s recently carried out at Bewdley station. He’s been concentrating on the station’s frontage to the car park, and we think the results are very impressive! Over to Philip:
“The large square bay window to the S&T room (shown in the first photograph) is finished, along with the plinth courses and the main booking office window sills and their corbels. I’ve just installed the carved and masoned window sill in the second photograph, which is on the first floor of the station house. I have to admit it was a pig of a job, but it’s looking good now. I’ve now moved onto the angled bay window below, and when this is completed, I’ll move onto the platform side of the Bewdley building. Oh, there are still two chimney stacks to overhaul at Arley!”
Two photos, first is the S&T window (Dai Phillips) and the second is the upstairs window (Philip Chatfield)
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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.