LMS buffet car on the turntable at Kidderminster. Photo: Alan Brookes
Welcome to May's Branch Lines
The SVR is about to go into its eighth week of shutdown. The darling buds of May are bursting all around us, but unfortunately, at the Railway, we’re not able to experience the usual joys of the season.
Our working members are stuck at home, frustrated and disappointed that they’re not able to spend time at the Railway, carrying out their duties and bringing the experience of heritage rail alive for our visitors. If you were hoping to be one of those visitors, either on a regular service or at one of our cancelled events, you will also have had your fair share of letdown.
You can be assured that behind the scenes, a great deal of work has been taking place to help the SVR come through the coronavirus crisis and the aftermath that will inevitably follow the easing of lockdown restrictions. The headline news is that our Fight Back Fund has raised an astounding £650,000. Thank you to everyone who has donated or purchased shares to bring about this impressive achievement. However the fight continues, as we want to mitigate for as much lost revenue as we possibly can, in order to make essential investments in the Railway. In our lead article, general manager Helen Smith sets out the Railway’s actions to survive and come through all of this in the best shape possible.
Also, we mark the forthcoming 50th anniversary of public trains at the SVR in preservation, and bring you a bumper edition that’s packed with news about the SVR, where there’s no shortage of activity or enthusiasm in spite of the strange situation we all find ourselves in.
There’s still a great deal of uncertainty around when and how the country will be allowed to ease out of lockdown, but you can be sure that the SVR will be back up and running, as soon as we safely can be.
If you'd like to get in touch with us, please email email@example.com
In the meantime, let’s stay home and stay safe.
Lesley Carr & Patrick Hearn, co-editors
Next edition 7th June 2020
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Coping with the crisis - a 360⁰ approach
General manager Helen Smith writes:
The Railway is about to enter its eighth week of closure because of the coronavirus pandemic, and uncertainty remains over when we’ll be able to reopen, and what conditions or restrictions we’ll need to have in place when we do. We’ve already suffered a huge loss in income from tickets and secondary spend along with other areas like footplate experiences, weddings and contract engineering work.
As a leading UK heritage railway, the SVR welcomes around 250,000 passengers in a normal year of operation, but of course this means we face much higher overheads than smaller operations. In the course of a normal year, we make around £4.5 million of investments back into the Railway, paid for out of visitor revenue. Clearly during the current year we will not be able to fund all the work that’s needed, although we still want to do as much as possible. In order to help the Railway through this, and achieve the best possible outcome, here are the actions we have taken:
To bring money in
Quickly launching an Emergency Appeal to our members, donors, shareholders and visitors
Continuing to ask for donations to our Fight Back Fund, along with share purchases – more than £650,000 already raised
Carrying out limited, paid contract work for third parties to generate some revenue, using social distancing measures for staff
Opening an online Fight Back Fund shop to provide SVR merchandise that will appeal to people staying at home
Working closely with the SVR Charitable Trust to ensure we are fundraising for the core activities of the Railway – education, apprenticeships, engineering, infrastructure – preserving specialist heritage skills for the future
Applying to grant giving bodies for emergency funding
Seeking approval from The National Lottery Heritage Fund that would allow an early drawdown of the Charitable Trust’s Future Fund, as a last resort
To save money and access Government assistance
Payroll savings by furloughing as many paid staff as possible, with many of the remaining skeleton staff taking voluntary pay cuts
Securing a business rates holidays for 12 months
Applying for a business interruption loan under the Government’s CBILS scheme
Deferring PAYE and National Insurance payments for 12 months
Negotiating a ‘rent holiday’ with the landlord who owns buildings we use in Bridgnorth
Maintenance and engineering
Deferring any non-essential capital projects or capital spend
Reviewing current overheads, ceasing services not currently required and controlling ongoing purchase commitments to essential only
Undertaking maintenance on carriages early than planned whilst rolling stock is not in use
Working closely with other major heritage railways to plot a path back into operation, so we can recoup as much visitor revenue as possible
Re-imagining the operation of the Railway to ensure we are ready to welcome visitors, volunteers and staff in a safe working environment
The SVR has had major problems before, and we’ve come back from them. We are lucky to have a truly fantastic group of volunteers and paid staff, along with a large community of close supporters, many of whom have already backed us with a donation or by purchasing shares. Thank you to everyone for all that you are doing to help get the SVR through this crisis.
Deputy chairman of the SVR Company Limited Diane Malyon has paid tribute to working members who have been helping to safeguard the Railway’s security during the shutdown:
"More than 60 local working members are involved in daily site security walks across the whole Railway, as part of their permitted exercise. There have been some cases of trespass in places but, fingers crossed, nothing more serious. Bridgnorth Station is also benefiting from a number of dog-walking locals keeping an eye on their favourite pub. We are very grateful to the site walk co- ordinators and to those who are fortunate to live close enough to the Railway to be able to help out in this way.
We illustrate our articles with images of recent railway activity. In the shutdown we are sharing some favourite images from our contributing photographers. Click on the gallery for full screen images and credits.
Fight Back Fund tops £650,000
Our fundraising campaign continues to be a resounding success with thousands of people donating to help save the Railway and bring to total so far to an amazing £650,000!
Speaking on behalf of all three member companies of the SVR family, general manager Helen Smith said:
“I would like to take this opportunity to say a personal thank you to everyone who has donated - your support is hugely appreciated. I have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and dedication of everyone involved with the SVR since I joined you five months ago.
We are all surrounded by stories of loss at the moment. It is important to remember that this time will pass and things will get better as we discover together the new ‘normal life’.”
The Fight Back Fund is open for donations and share purchases can still be made. More details on both of these at www.svr.co.uk
Reduced staffing means it’s taking longer than usual to process share purchases and send out certificates.
Photo of 34053 Sir Keith Park: Tony Carwithen
1970-2020 Fifty fantastic years of SVR trains
Saturday 23rd May marks the 50th anniversary of the first fully public train* to run on the SVR as a preserved line. It is sad and disappointing that the Railway will not be able to mark the occasion in the way we would have wished, with events that had been carefully planned, and all the associated excitement and celebrations that would have gone with such an important milestone. The coronavirus emergency and current lockdown mean the decision had to be taken to cancel the planned events.
What a contrast to how things were back in 1970, as a section of SVR line was opened for public passenger services between Bridgnorth and Hampton Loade. It was the culmination of the unstinting efforts of a pioneering group of railway enthusiasts. They’d formed the Severn Valley Railway Society at the Coopers Arms public house in Kidderminster five years earlier in 1965.
The SVR Society managed to raise 25% of the £25,000 purchase price for a closed five-mile section of the line from Bridgnorth to Alveley. By 1967, the first rolling stock, an engine and four coaches, had been received. The next three years were spent restoring the line to operating condition, and overcoming considerable difficulties to obtain the legal authority, a Light Railway Order, from the Department of the Environment.
The section from Bridgnorth to Hampton Loade was opened for public passenger services on 23rd May 1970 and the remainder of the purchase price was paid shortly afterwards. The first service was the 2pm from Bridgnorth, hauled by locomotive 3205.
SVR veteran David Williams says the first day of running was a rather rushed affair, and didn’t allow him the pleasure of being there in person:
“This seemingly inexcusable fact was because the date of reopening was not known until the Light Railway Order dropped through the SVR Company letterbox, with only a fortnight’s notice. This meant that two of the Railway’s most prolific and keen photographers, David Cooke and myself, newly equipped with Pentaxes, were on holiday! An SVR party of eight had booked flights to Portugal some three months earlier.”
This clash of events, along with some uncharacteristically dull and hazy weather on the 23rd May 1970 meant that very few photos were taken of the first day of running. Fortunately, the weather turned sunny overnight, and some good photos were taken on day two. David adds:
“Don’t forget that it was a period when young, keen SVR supporters were quite poor, and colour photography was very expensive. The nation’s top (wealthy) photographers had yet to discover where Bridgnorth was on the map, and were still mourning the then recent loss of BR steam.”
David, along with Dave Hill, has been instrumental in helping to source photographs of the inaugural services for a major feature article in the forthcoming edition of Heritage Railway Magazine**, which will mark the 50th anniversary in some style. Not only does the magazine devote 10 pages to the anniversary but it also features SVR on the front cover. This level of exposure for the Railway would be welcome at any time but is particularly satisfying under the current circumstances when we’re unable to run services and are fundraising to mitigate against lost visitor income.
May will also see two other notable anniversaries; on 18th May 1974, operation of the line was extended from Highley to Arley and Bewdley; and 11th May 1984 saw the first SVR train to the Kidderminster site, when concrete sleepers were brought in by rail from Bewdley using D1013 Western Ranger crewed by BR men.
*Occasional trains had run for SVR members and ‘day members’ since 1967, which the tacit approval of British Rail.
**Heritage Railway Magazine is published on 15th May. Please see below for details of an exclusive subscription discount for SVR supporters.
Top Photo: Ben Brooksbank
SVR subscription discount for Mortons titles
Not only has Heritage Railway Magazine put us on the front cover this month, but its publishers Mortons are making a generous offer to SVR folk who wish to take out a subscription to the magazine, or either of its sister titles The Railway Magazine and Rail Express.
Using the special link below, you can receive six issues of any of the titles for £19.80, which includes a 10% discount on the usual price of £22.
What’s more, Mortons will make a donation of £4 to the SVR’s Fight Back Fund for every subscription that’s taken out. What’s not to like?
Here’s the link www.classicmagazines.co.uk/severn20
A tribute to John Leftwich
Nick Paul CBE, chairman of SVR (Holdings) plc and trustee of the SVR Charitable Trust writes:
It was with a heavy heart last week that I had to announce the death of one of the SVR’s most loyal supporters, John Leftwich, who passed away in hospital following a short illness. John was a dear personal friend and an equally great friend to the Railway, and his loss will be felt deeply by many people.
John was integral in extending the remit of the SVR Charitable Trust in 2012, indeed without his guidance and considerable financial support, it simply would not have got off the ground. He brought tremendous business acumen to his role as fundraising director on the board of trustees, gained from a stellar career that culminated in his position as corporate vice president of Microsoft, responsible for marketing across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
To say John loved heritage rail would be something of an understatement. It’s a passion we both shared. When he told me, years ago, how excited he was to have received a Hornby 00 train set for Christmas, I knew I could ‘hook’ him into the SVR cause. I arranged a behind-the-scenes tour, and the rest, as they say, was history.
John threw himself into planning and driving the re-launch of the Trust, with his characteristically passionate approach. He brought in an array of high value supporters, ‘the great and the good’, along with leading business figures.
In the early days, when we were trying to get the Charitable Trust off the ground, and facing all kinds of challenges, I’d had a sleepless night and emailed John around 5am to share my worries about the cash flow. “Let’s meet for coffee,” he said, and set to work drawing up a plan to provide financial help, and to recruit Shelagh to work directly for the Trust so that things were put on a truly professional setting.
John had unrivalled energy, connections and personality, and we owe him a huge debt of gratitude. We’ve lost one of our own, and our deepest condolences go to his wife Louise and his family.
Shelagh Paterson, SVR Charitable Trust director of development adds more words of tribute:
Since I joined the Charitable Trust, John was always a wonderful advisor, mentor and friend. He really was a giant of a character, and a huge presence in any room. He was amazingly down-to-earth, and had the knack of making people feel valued and at ease. His ideas and passion got our Future Fund investment in place, attracting donations from far and wide, and he helped us shape the Charitable Trust to become what it is today – a major part of the Railway – with a track record of raising £5million. He leaves a huge gap in his wake, and all the staff and volunteers in the Trust will miss him very much.
Time on your hands? Then take a course in railway history
During the lockdown, we know that plenty of our readers are missing their visits to the SVR either to work as volunteers or to simply spend time at a place they hold very dear. SVR Charitable Trust volunteer Amy Baker has come up with an idea to while away some of those idle hours, in the form of a short course about working lives on Britain’s Railways from the 1840s to the first world war.
The course has been put together by the University of Strathclyde and is available for free through Futurelearn.com. You’ll need to devote up to 12 hours to finish the course, and you can go at your own pace.
Using archival materials from the National Railway Museum, the course investigates the professional lives of British railway workers from the 1840s until the First World War, focussing on the work of engine drivers, signallers, navvies and clerks.
Amy told us, “I’ve done a few courses with FutureLearn already, and when I saw this, I couldn’t resist. It’s very interesting and there’s something in there for everyone who loves heritage rail.”
Follow the link to register and get started! https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/working-lives-on-the-railway
SVR issues warning against trespassing
A recent spate of incidents involving members of the public walking at various points along the line has led to the SVR issuing a public warning against trespass. General manager Helen Smith explained why this has been necessary:
“We think that some people are simply not aware that they’re breaking the law by walking on the line, and perhaps they think because we’re not open that there’s no problem and no danger.
"However, they are very wrong! Anyone who walks on or beside the line is not only acting illegally but is also putting themselves in potential danger, as there are still unscheduled engineering trains running as part of our care and maintenance operation.
“We’re stepping up security along the line and have urged members of the public not to use the Railway as a footpath. I would like to thank the team of volunteers who are adding their support to our professional security arrangements, by incorporating a visit to areas of the SVR that are local to them, as part of their daily exercise outing. Their diligence and dedication are hugely appreciated.”
SVR offers a helping hand to the NHS
From all corners of the Railway, staff are offering a ‘helping hand’ to the frontline in a variety of ways, using their spare time to benefit others.
Kirt Tabberer, one of the education team based at The Engine House, has swapped his customary wartime attire for the green uniform of St John Ambulance, which he's rejoined to provide support for those in need during the pandemic.
Meanwhile Nadia Atwell, also based at The Engine House, has been using her creative talents at home to create tops, trousers and washbags for the NHS Russell’s Hall Hospital and for surrounding care homes in the Black Country. Nadia is part of the For the Love of Scrubs group on Facebook that started the campaign.
And HR manager Kate Cooke is making essential PPE and scrub bags for the hospital, where there’s a current shortage of competent machinists to make scrubs, headbands and bags for staff to transport their used uniforms in.
Keep up your incredible work team – we are very proud of you!
SVR bright sparks light up Kidderminster station to honour the NHS
As a symbol of hope, rainbows have appeared all over the country to thank keyworkers and unite the community in the face of the ongoing pandemic.
Now the SVR is taking the rainbow emblem to heart, with plans to bring about an eye-catching change to Kidderminster station. It’s all the idea of improver fitter machinist Alan Brookes, who works on carriage restoration at C&W, and who also runs the Betalite events lighting company.
On Monday 4th, Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th May, weather permitting, Kidderminster station will be lit up in NHS blue and rainbow colours, and the event will be streamed live on the SVR’s official Facebook and Instagram pages. The lighting team will follow social distancing guidelines.
Tune in to Facebook and Instagram on Monday evening to catch this spectacular event!
Caption: Alan Brookes with the Betalite team at an event before the pandemic
Fight Back Fund online shop is open for business
The Railway is proud to announce the relaunch of its online shop at www.svrshop.co.uk, where heritage rail lovers can choose from a hand-picked selection of clothing, homeware and toys. All proceeds from sales will go towards the SVR Fight Back Fund.
From caps and t-shirts featuring the SVR logo, to battery operated toys and cuddly bears, the website features something for every age of train enthusiast. Alongside some Fight Back Fund favourites, the website has a huge selection of Bachmann models – in both N and OO Gauges.
It’s worth checking the site regularly, as more items go live every day.
Merchandise catalogues are also available on request from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Investigations continue into land movements
As part of the investigations being undertaken at two locations on the line where there have been land movements, three boreholes have now been completed. The areas affected are at Sterns and Alveley Woods. More from infrastructure manager Chris Bond:
“During the past week or so, there has been a vegetation clearance operation, along with readings and topographical surveys. We are now awaiting an analysis of the information by our consultant civil engineer Jonathan Symonds, in order to determine the options for remedial work. Separately we are continuing to work with our appointed insurance assessor to determine the position regarding our claims for both the affected areas.
Land movements were identified at the two locations following February’s extremely wet weather and flooding.
Photos: Jonathan Symonds
Finding joy in all the strangeness
Bridgnorth shedmaster Martin White sent a little extra offering to Branch Lines this month, which we are delighted to share with you. Martin admits he is a bit of a ‘softie’ but we think his words will cheer up the hardest of cynics:
Thursday 23rd April 2.15pm - It’s been a fairly manic day so far, lots of emails, phone calls with colleagues, suppliers, customers, video conference meetings. I’ve been in and out of the boilershop to see the lads at work, in and out of the main shed to do the weekly fire alarm test, in and out of storage containers to check on some supplies, I’ve surprisingly taken receipt of a delivery onto site which is quite rare in the current environment. Working on invoices and payments and quotations, some health & safety, planning and thoughts as to how we can ever get back to ‘normal’ again. My head is in a whirl, and I’m wondering what other folk may be up to, perhaps out in the glorious spring sunshine instead of up to their elbows in steam loco muck. But I bet they are all missing the muck!
I’ve not even managed lunch yet and I simply need to step away from the laptop and desk. That’s it, I’ve got 10 minutes, enough for a quick walk. Up the path to the rear car park at Bridgnorth at a brisk pace, get the blood flowing, across the car park to the exit road, work thoughts still filling my head along with envy of those out in the sunshine…… walk down the exit road. Round by the base of Pan Pudding Hill, noting that the apple trees planted in the orchard behind the cottage as part of last year’s building works are starting to bloom…..and then BANG!
There it was. It literally stopped me in my tracks. One of the old apple trees in the cottage garden with so much blossom that it shone in the sun light. How lucky am I to be here, to see it. None of the hundreds of people who might normally see it will have had this chance and we all probably take it for granted every year. But it’s important, it’s part of the Railway and it shows that life goes on, that regeneration occurs and things can come back stronger than ever. I must share it and help us keep in touch, so here it is.
Board room changes
A new face joins the board of trustees at the SVR Charitable Trust.
Laura Shoaf is managing director of Transport for West Midlands. She has more than 25 years international experience delivering integrated economic and spatial regeneration and is the first woman in England to a lead a strategic transport authority.
Laura has held a number of senior roles in the West Midlands including head of strategic planning & implementation at the Black Country Consortium, the Black Country director of transport and the strategic director for transport at the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority.
The Severn Valley Railway Company Limited (the ‘Guarantee Company’) has announced the resignation of director Duncan Chandler, as of 27th March. On behalf of the board, chairman David Williams said:
“We’d like to thank Duncan for his ten years of service to the board, serving on the staffing and communications committees. Personally, I am particularly grateful for Duncan’s professional expertise in dealing with some of the HR and personnel matters that inevitably arise. I am delighted to learn that Duncan will still be continuing to perform his regular footplate duties after the lockdown is over, so ‘Taw Valley’ has no need to be despondent!”
A bogie tale
Adrian Hassell from the Erlestoke Manor Fund has contacted Branch Lines with an update on the overhaul of 7812 Erlestoke Manor underway at Tyseley Locomotive Works:
Following considerable work and some new parts 7812's bogie is close to final assembly.
Recent pictures before the lockdown restrictions show the wheelsets with axleboxes and spring beams ready for the bogie frames.
Refitting to the loco will then be a simple job using the wheeldrop. These bogies were standard across several classes of loco.
Photos courtesy Chris Field. Click on the gallery for full screen images.
Nostalgia at Kidderminster Town
Barry Moreton of the volunteer liaison office has been in touch with some old images of the then new station at Kidderminster Town. These are nostalgia for those who remember it, and informative for those not around then!
Barry’s photos date from around February 2006 and show the old temporary buffet building before the Valley Suite was built, and the canopy being erected. This was phase 3, the building of the East wing.
This 2006 completion of the main structure was funded by a £550,000 loan, repayable in monthly instalments until 2026. The residual amount of this loan is amongst those for which the SVR has secured a holiday on capital of loan repayments during the current emergency.
At the opening in July 1984, the facilities were temporary structures. Phase 1 of the new station building (the West wing, now housing the gift shop) was funded by the 1983 share offer and opened later in 1984. Phase 2, including the station front, followed in 1985. Much work by the Friends of Kidderminster Town station has contributed to make the station what it is today. A fuller description can be found on the SVR Wiki - development of Kidderminster Town station.
Thanks to Barry Moreton for the images and to Dai Phillips for his assistance. Click on the gallery for full screen images and descriptions.
It all boilers down to this…
Volunteer shed master Martin White brings us bang up to date on the limited, but important contract work that’s taking place, observing safe social distancing rules, at Bridgorth Motive Power Department:
It’s well over a month now since volunteers came anywhere near the MPD and it’s a similar story for most of the paid staff as they are furloughed at home. The only exceptions have been volunteers who, as part of their daily exercise, visit the Bridgnorth site and keep an eye on everything. Not just the MPD, but the station buildings, sleeping accommodation, stabled vehicles and car parks, etc. What a terrifically valuable job they are doing.
However, it doesn’t mean that all engineering work has stopped. The boiler shop staff have continued to beaver away, carefully observing Government guidelines on distancing. They haven’t all been out of sight either, as some of their work has been taking place outdoors, and even when inside the boiler shop there is the occasional burst of loud noise emanating as something large and metallic is given a bit of gentle persuasion with a large hammer or air-driven tool.
As reported last month, the first Isle of Man new-build boiler has been completed and this was collected and despatched on 1st April. Hot on its heels, the second new-build boiler was moved onto the boiler test wagon and has had its first fire lit and a subsequent series of steamings. It’s awaiting its formal examination and sign-off by the boiler inspector. After this it will be cleaned up and painted prior to transportation over to the island.
Amongst the larger boilers inside the shop, namely the boilers from locos based at the SVR, progress has been continuing on multiple fronts, most notably on GW large prairie tank, 4150 and LMS Stanier mogul, 13268.
4150 has had 160 new crown stays manufactured on site by CNC machinist Alex Bradbury, the majority of which have then been fitted by apprentice Jack Kerswill. (Crown stays are the boiler stays that are fitted at the top of the firebox between the inner copper plate work and the outer steel wrapper of the firebox. They are screwed into threads cut into both plates).
On 13268, the re-fitting of the inner copper doorplate has been progressed by boiler shop team leader Phil Davidson, after completion of copper firebox repairs and the riveting of the new steel backhead. Alex Bradbury’s skills were again called into use for the manufacture of the special copper patch screws used for this.
There’s been further progress on the third Isle of Man boiler by Stuart Matthews, and on the fourth by Ryan Parsons, in between fettling the second. Dave Howell has been the sixth member of the boiler shop at work, doing something rather special which will be explained at an appropriate point in the future!
Meanwhile inside the shed at Bridgnorth, with no mechanical or maintenance work taking place, the steam loco fleet slumbers peacefully…
Click on the gallery for full screen images and descriptions.
Own a piece of Hampton Loade history
Hampton Loade Station has two replica platform lamp tops surplus to requirements, having replaced them in recent years with newer reproductions. The lamp tops have fittings to be electrically lit, are in ‘as removed’ condition, and have been in dry storage since removal. One has a few loose panes of glass, but all glass is present. They were produced in the 1980s/90s.
These can be yours for £350 each ono, and are available individually or together. All proceeds will go directly to Hampton Loade Station Fund to be reinvested in essential restoration and maintenance work at Hampton Loade.
STOP PRESS: Both lamps have now been reserved for sale.
Have you received your SVR News?
The Spring 2020 issue of SVR News was despatched to all members at the end of February but several members have fed back that they did not receive this issue (including your co-editor for this e-newsletter, Patrick!)
In these strange times some dislocation might be expected. The SVR Company Limited (which looks after membership) has checked the data supplied and confirm this is not a problem with SVR membership lists. However, they will review the despatch processes for the next issue.
The Company has despatched replacements to around a dozen members but if you have not received your copy please use the feedback form on SVR Live and you’ll be sent a copy.
Behind closed doors at C&W
Engineering services administrator Angela Walker is our C&W correspondent this month, and brings us up-to-date on the work that continues while the Railway is closed. Over to Angela…
A small skeleton team of five continues in the Kidderminster carriage works, observing the Government rules on social distancing, and also providing an extra level of security.
In the paintshop, 9055 has been getting some finishing touches; handles and doorstops fitted, lining and transfers finished, flooring has had its final polish and upholstery panels fitted. The only outstanding pieces to be fitted are seat bases which require upholstering.
Mid-April, 9055 was shunted out of the paintshop. Working from home, I had a phone call from mechanical team leader Nigel Hanson saying, “We’re on our way!” Next thing I knew I could hear the shunter with 9055, coming past my garden which backs onto the Railway. She looked beautiful and it was a real treat. I am so proud to work with all the volunteers and paid staff who work their magic to produce these beautiful restorations and maintain them.
Inspections are taking place on 2242’s ride heights, levelling and weighing, drawer gear, brake linkage, axle boxes and steam heat along with brake rigging and tyre measurement. Thank you to the GW (SVR) Association for bringing forward the mechanical works on this carriage to help the SVR bring in much-needed income for the next few weeks. Please visit their website to donate if you can.
Now in the paintshop is 24506, the Pigeon Van, one of our LNER Gresley teaks. She’s in for a deeper level of work. Supervisor Gary Parsons and train repairer Matt Walford have flatted down the roof and sides, and the first coat of undercoat is already on the roof.
The teaks 43600, 52255 and 7960 are having a bit of attention too. These only need a light flat down, and then two coats of varnish. Spark hoods will be replaced on 43600 and 52255. You might be wondering why are we giving so much attention to the teaks right now? Well, the SVR Charitable Trust have very kindly offered to pay for the materials and towards the cost of labour, meaning that SVR Holdings don’t have to find the funds at this difficult time.
I asked Nigel and bodywork foreman Colin Astbury how they are finding things, working in these different times. Nigel said, “It’s like I’ve gone back in time to how it was 30 years ago - the phone’s not ringing and there are no emails to deal with.”
Colin explained the downside, saying, “There aren’t the usual endless offerings of help. There’s no atmosphere or camaraderie, and we’re missing the characters who make the carriage works what it is. On the plus side, varnishing was great as there was no dust and the quiet time was useful for lining.”
Colin asked me to pass on a big thank you to everyone who’s worked on 9055. The hard work has paid off as she was finished on schedule.
Click on the gallery for full screen images and descriptions.
Thanks to Alan Brookes for the 'fast motion' video below.
Restoration homeworking through the lockdown!
The LNER Carriage Group, part of the SVR Charitable Trust, have turned to ‘working from home’ in order to continue their volunteer conversion of the former GWR coach 5043 to Accessible Saloon Miniature Buffet 9581. This will provide the ‘GW’ carriage set with a much-needed buffet car and wheelchair accommodation. Carriage Group member Richard Gunning has been in touch with a further update.
Before the pandemic arrived and lockdown, the team made progress in a couple of areas.
A lot of thought has gone into the fixing of the ceilings. The group faced a challenge of roof panels for the original construction (for a compartment third) having carlines of incorrect spacing for the wheelchair buffet. As an LNER group the answer lay with the LNER practice! This supports ceilings on an inner arch of tongue and groove softwood. The group used new timber, except for framework of the lower ceilings in vestibules, WC and kitchen which used reclaimed and recycled timber.
Progress with side doors was complicated by several factors, including the very wet weather early in the year. South Devon Railway Engineering superbly manufactured top panels to fit to the five new doors that were fitted last year. The dry weather allowed fitting to start, requiring only a small amount of trimming to ensure a good fit. As coronavirus struck, and the panels were removed to a member’s home for drilling and pressing. Once work restarts, they will need galvanising before they can be attached in place.
Other work has included restoration of garnish rails (the top of the inner panel which carries the fitting leather strap and brass fitting that allow partial opening of the droplight). Also, very attractive later condition door top panel with plain sycamore panels. Again, this has involved home workshop operations!”
Our gallery includes a selection of photos, please click for a full screen view and descriptions. A fuller report can be found on the Group’s website.
Picture puzzle at Bewdley
Assistant stationmaster at Bewdley, Dai Phillips, has been in touch with a poser while the Railway is quiet.
“We have recently unearthed some old pictures of Bewdley. This photo is by P G Hindley, and the date is 1962. Both it and another, undated, image show a cupboard on the end of the alcoves.
“I have asked our staff if anyone can identify what it used to store and when it was installed and removed but have no replies thus far. So, can you help us solve the mystery: does anybody know?”
If you have ideas, please contact Feedback@bewdleystation.co.uk.
Photo: Bewdley station 1962 (c) Copyright P G Hindley
SVR virtual Steam Gala hits the spot
Although the Railway is currently closed, the SVR marketing team decided to make sure that train enthusiasts didn’t miss on their locomotive fix, by organising a Spring Gala with a unique twist.
The real event, due to run from 16th to 19th April, was cancelled because of the ongoing pandemic, but a Virtual Steam Gala on social media proved to be the next best thing.
By sourcing videos from John Edkins, the team ran the #VirtualSteamGala on the official Severn Valley Railway Facebook page choosing a daily video to take fans across the years.
Starting on the original opening date of the Steam Gala, the team began with a video from the 2010 Steam Gala before hosting a ‘watch party’ for daily videos, taking viewers up to the modern day.
It proved immensely popular, with more than 227,000 people tuning in to watch at least one of the #VirtualSteamGala videos across the 10-day period.
Marketing manager Dan Shorthouse said: “We were incredibly disappointed to have to cancel the Spring Steam Gala, which is a key event in our annual calendar. We were sure that just like us people were missing getting their steam fix and at that point, our decision was made. Thank you to everyone who ‘tuned in’ and the fantastic comments we received told us it was all worthwhile.”
You can subscribe to the Severn Valley Railway YouTube channel where the videos for 2010-2016 are hosted.
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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.