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May 2022

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The star of the show! LNER A4 Sir Nigel Gresley attracts crowds of photographers at Hay Bridge on the final afternoon of the Spring Steam Gala on 24th April 2022. Keith Wilkinson

Welcome to your latest edition of Branch Lines!

They say that good things come in threes – well we’re going to disprove that with no fewer than SIX extremely good pieces of news for the SVR as we publish May’s edition of Branch Lines!

An outstanding Spring Steam Gala last month; the announcement that the Railway has been selected to take part in the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay; 4930 'Hagley Hall' has moved under its own power for the first time in 36 years; getting into the finals of the national tourism awards for excellence; the roof & crane project moving into the main delivery phase by the contractors; and finally the coup that Hornby are releasing a limited-edition model of the SVR’s ‘purple loco’, No. 70 ‘Elizabeth II’.

Together with a round-up of lots of other happenings across the Railway, there’s something for everyone in this month’s Branch Lines. Many thanks to everyone who has contributed to it.

STOP PRESS: We're putting the 'purple loco' No 70 'Elizabeth II' into service this weekend, ahead of its official renaming ceremony on 2nd June. It will haul the return trip of S2 on Saturday, leaving Bridgnorth at 12.30, and will be in service for the rest of the day, and all day Sunday on S1! Please come and see it!

 

Lesley and Patrick, co-editors

The Branch Lines team is Lesley Carr, Patrick Hearn, Amy Baker and Nicola Fox

Next edition Thursday 9th June

Contents

Scroll down or click on the item to be taken straight to it

What's new?

Spring Steam Gala ‘surpasses expectations’

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Great weather, a great line up of locos and plenty of hard work and organisation all combined to make the Spring Steam Gala one of the most successful SVR enthusiast events ever.


“The event surpassed all our expectations,” said managing director Helen Smith. “Thank you so much to everyone involved for your hard work and effort.”


Comments on TripAdvisor included “An experience not to be missed”, “Brilliant locos on a wonderful heritage line”, and “A fantastic day out on the best preserved steam railway in the country.”


“Over the four days, we attracted around 7,500 visitors,” added Helen. “Which represents higher numbers than ever before at this time of year. Just to set this in context, pre-pandemic our visitor numbers peaked at around 4,500 for what was usually a three-day spring event.”


The Gala brought a welcome boost to the Railway’s finances with buoyant secondary spend on catering and retail adding to the high ticket volume. Income was also boosted by pre-sales of the Hornby limited-edition 00 gauge model of No. 70 ‘Elizabeth II’, in its striking purple livery.


On the Thursday, a small ceremony took place at Kidderminster station, to relaunch 4498 ‘Sir Nigel Gresley’, following its recent £1 million overhaul. The locomotive went on to run all four days of the event.


A few challenges presented themselves during the course of the Gala. There were a number of lineside fires, and on the Saturday, 813 failed - there is more information on this in our separate article.


An additional challenge was the current difficulty in securing reliable coal supplies. “Like other heritage railways, the SVR is facing considerable challenges in obtaining coal,” explained Helen. “Even though we’ve taken measures such as postponing footplate experiences and dropping some less busy running days this season, we decided to protect our Spring Steam Gala. We wanted to give our supporters the best possible event we could. The only casualty of coal supply issues was the cancellation of the goods train services.”

Click on the gallery to see larger images, descriptions and photo credits. You can also view two videos released prior to the gala - remember to like and subscribe to the SVR's YouTube channel!

 

Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay comes to the SVR!

The SVR has announced that it will be hosting a section of the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay in the final build-up to the Commonwealth Games this summer.

It will travel along the line, hauled very appropriately by No. 70 ‘Elizabeth II’, the steam locomotive recently painted purple and silver to commemorate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

The Baton will arrive at Kidderminster Town station on Saturday 23rd July, where it will be greeted by members of the community and a ‘guard of honour’ made up of SVR volunteers.  It will then commence its journey along the full length of the line to Bridgnorth. 

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Seats on the special service will be allocated to members of the public and SVR volunteers in a ballot and will be free of charge. Viewing spaces at both Kidderminster and Bridgnorth stations will also be allocated by ballot in order to control numbers. You can pre-register to receive further details about the ballots at www.svr.co.uk/QueensBatonRelay

 After the Baton is welcomed by volunteers at Bridgnorth, it will leave the Railway and begin a series of appearances in the town, which will include Severn Park and the Cliff Railway. Throughout the day, the Baton will be carried by a number of Batonbearers, chosen by the Queen’s Baton Relay organisers.

The SVR’s managing director Helen Smith said:

“We are delighted that The Queen’s Baton Relay organisers have chosen the SVR for this very high profile visit in the run-up to the Commonwealth Games. By the time it comes to us, The Baton will have visited 71 nations and territories around the world and will be heading for its final destination, Birmingham, for the opening ceremony of the Games.

The special Baton service on 23rd July will begin the SVR’s ‘Summer of Sport’ season, which sees six weeks of sport-themed fun and activities throughout the school holidays. 

Tickets for all SVR services can be booked at www.svr.co.uk

 

4930 ‘Hagley Hall’ moves under its own power

Hagley Hall  preparing to move under its own power 11.5.22. Andy Sweet.jpg
A second view of 4930. Andy Sweet.jpg

The Severn Valley Railway reached a significant milestone with the overhaul of its ‘flagship’ locomotive 4930 ‘Hagley Hall’.

 

On Wednesday 11th May, the engine moved under its own power at Bridgnorth. This is the first time such an event has occurred for 36 years and the moment holds a great deal of significance for everyone connected with its overhaul.

“We’ve waited many, many years for this moment,” said Martin White, the SVR’s head of engineering. “And even though the loco only moved as far as the MPD yard signal and back, this still marks a rather momentous step in getting it back into service.

“There’s now a list of things that need to be fettled up, that have been identified during the day. But importantly, there is also a list of things that at this stage have worked fine, crucially the brakes and the injectors (for putting water into the boiler.)

“There’s plenty still to do, but hopefully all of the team associated with the overhaul can go home with smiles on their faces as 'Hagley Hall' has taken another step towards completion.”

The SVR has not made any firm commitments on when the locomotive will be tested out on the line, nor when it’s expected to be back hauling passenger services, but the indications are that both goals will be reached in the coming months.

Hagley Hall  preparing to move under its own power 11.5.22. FOLHH

A second view of 4930. FOLHH

 

SVR is finalist for top national tourism award

The Severn Valley Railway has been named as a finalist in the tourism industry’s national Awards for Excellence.

Following a rigorous judging process by handpicked tourism industry experts, VisitEngland has selected the SVR as one of three finalists in its new Resilience and Innovation category.

“This is an outstanding achievement for the Severn Valley Railway, and recognition for the amazing hard work and talents of our volunteers and paid staff,” said managing director Helen Smith. “To survive the devastating impacts of the Covid pandemic has taken incredible strength, brave decisions and many changes to the way we work.

“Resilience and innovation have truly been our watch words, and we’re so pleased that VisitEngland has acknowledged our achievements by choosing us as finalists.”

The SVR won a regional award for Resilience and Innovation from Visit Worcestershire in March this year, and as a result was put forward for the national VisitEngland Awards along with hundreds of other businesses from across the country.

The Visit Worcestershire judges were impressed by the improvements the SVR made in its virtual experience, digital PR, collaborations, wider tourism support and business diversification, calling the organisation ‘an inspiration to others’. They also highlighted the Railway’s apprenticeship scheme.

The awards ceremony will take place at the Library of Birmingham on 8th June.

For the VisitEngland awards article 75069 photo opportunities, credit Anthony Carwithen.jp
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75069 photo opportunities, credit Anthony Carwithen

 

Roof & Crane – Going Live!

An empty MPD at Bridgnorth on 2nd May 2022. Antony Bartlam
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Roof and Crane 28th April 2022. Antony Bartlam
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After 12 months of planning, works by the contractors on the ESMP shed have finally started. Volunteers and paid staff have spent three months clearing locomotives, machinery and 40 years of clutter, with items that could not be moved easily now stored safely inside in a secure compound.

 

Work has been carried out to protect the wheel drop and remove the electrics that control it; a massive undertaking required labelling a spaghetti junction of wiring to enable it to be returned correctly. Volunteer project manager Antony Bartlam said:

 

“It cannot be underestimated the number of hours that have gone into this project, even to reach this stage. There were always plenty of volunteers at weekends willing to help move items into storage, pour concrete, help with relocating services all of which means we are on still on programme.”

 

Walsh Construction are currently undertaking works for the new bases for the crane. Disc cutting the slab has commenced and the slab areas will be broken out ready for the piling to be installed. Ascon Roofing have already had deliveries of the new purlins for the roof and in the next week the roof sheets and insulation will arrive, and the removal and replacement of the roof in sections will start. Safety netting is already in place as is the external scaffolding.

The roof works and work on the crane bases will continue for around eight weeks with crane installation expected in mid-July. Once the crane is in place, the new lighting can be positioned, taking the works to the end of August. Meanwhile, the shed walls will be stripped and replaced once the roof is finished, with completion for this expected in mid-August. Antony added:

“Clearly the weather has a big impact on this type of work, but we are confident we can keep to programme. We are on budget and have ensured that the funding raised by so many people’s donations is spent ensuring value for money. Rising prices have been a real problem with the project, but fixed contracts set some time ago have maintained the project within the funding we have from the SVR Charitable Trust.”

 

‘Elizabeth II’ flies off the shelves!

Leading British model company Hornby has partnered with the Railway to produce a limited-edition collector’s model of SR West Country Class 34027 ‘Taw Valley’, in the unique purple and silver livery applied in honour of The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

 

Renamed as ‘Elizabeth II’ and renumbered 70 to reflect the seven decades of Her Majesty’s reign, this limited run of 2,500 models proved so popular that it has almost completely sold out!

 

“We knew we’d cause a stir by painting this wonderful heritage locomotive in such a striking colour,” said Michael Dunn, head of visitor experience. “It’s a huge seal of approval that Hornby wants to reflect this bold move and we’re delighted to be working with such a prestigious partner.”

Image of Hornby's limited-edition model of No. 70 'Elizabeth II''

Hornby’s marketing and product development director Simon Kohler added:  

 

“Hornby have had a strong relationship with the Severn Valley Railway for a number of years, and the opportunity to produce this model is the absolute pinnacle of our association. On a personal level, I’m thrilled to be producing a model that’s not green or black, just for a change!”

 

Michael Dunn was joined by Lesley Carr (head of marketing and communications) and Dan Shorthouse (marketing manager) on Hornby’s first ever podcast, Beyond The Buffers, where the team discussed the origin of the idea of this head turning purple locomotive, how Hornby got involved and the reaction to this bold move. You can listen to the podcast here, and the SVR section starts at 41'55".

 

The SVR and Hornby will donate a proportion of the profits from the sale of ‘Elizabeth II’ to The Patron’s Fund, which supports the charitable organisations across the UK and the Commonwealth for which Her Majesty acts as a Patron.

 

If you’re quick, you might just track down the last remaining models at: https://uk.hornby.com/community/stockists

 

What's coming up?

SVR Company Limited AGM

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The 54th Annual General Meeting of the SVR Company (the Guarantee Company) will take place on Saturday 16th July at 2.30 pm at Castle Hall, West Castle Street, Bridgnorth. Vice-chairman David Williams writes with more information:

Written nominations for directorships are welcomed from members, duly signed by both the proposer and the nominee. They should be received not more than 56 days (21st May) and not less than 35 days (11th June) before the AGM. They should be sent in a secure envelope, clearly marked ‘AGM Nomination’ to the SVR Company Secretary, David Mellor, 3 Frederick Road, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 5QW.

Board meetings are held monthly excepting August and December, either on Microsoft Teams or in person at Comberton Place, Kidderminster, usually on the third Friday evening, with a 7.00 pm start.

There are four sub-committees reporting to the Board which meet regularly, and participation in one of these is expected of the successful applicant. Each sub-committee covers one of the following subjects: staffing, finance, presentation and communications.

It is usual for a brief printed CV of the nominee to be included with the Annual Report and Accounts and AGM Notice. If this is required (max 250 words), it must be sent to the Secretary not less than 42 days (4th June) before the AGM to enable him to process it and to ensure uniformity within the documents. Please note that multi-page CVs of the type used for employment applications are not acceptable.

Members are requested NOT to send in proxy forms for the AGM by recorded delivery or registered post. The Secretary is not always at home to receive them, and faces a time-consuming trip to the sorting office as a result!

 

Purple loco’ set to star at the SVR’s Platinum Jubilee event

The Severn Valley Railway will be putting on a celebration ‘fit for Royalty’ when it welcomes visitors to a four-day special event in June to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee marking 70 years since her coronation in 1952. 

  

Festivities will take place from 2nd-5th June, as the Railway joins with the nation to celebrate the historic and momentous occasion across the extended bank holiday weekend. 

  

Crowning the first day of the event will be the unveiling of locomotive 34027 with its new name, ‘Elizabeth II’, new number ‘70’, and unique, head-turning purple livery, specially commissioned to mark the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Visitors will have the chance to see the ‘purple loco’ throughout the four-day event.  Alongside the stunning sight of the ‘purple loco’ No 70 ‘Elizabeth II’, the appropriately-named No 2999 ‘Lady of Legend’ will be making its final appearances at the SVR before it returns home to Didcot Railway Centre.

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It’s not just steam engines that will be headlining the show, but also a heritage aircraft. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s iconic Lancaster is set to perform a fly past on all four days of the event. 

  

The SVR will take visitors back to the 1950s allowing them to hop aboard a vintage fairground ride, enjoy live music at Kidderminster Station on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and sample the delights of a pop-up milk bar and juke box at The Engine House, as well as enjoying evening concerts at Kidderminster on Friday and Saturday.  

  

Staying in that iconic decade, the Severn Valley Railway will also be hosting a hand-built Paddington-themed exhibition at The Engine House, courtesy of BrickLive™, The much-loved fictional bear made his debut in the 1950s and hundreds of thousands of bricks will go into creating this stunning exhibition, which is sure to delight visitors of all ages. 

  

Alongside Paddington, the work of leading photographer Jack Boskett is showcased in an exhibition called ‘From Railways to Royalty’, with 75 of his best works featuring heritage rail and the Royal Family. 

  

The SVR’s gardeners will work their magic to produce floral displays in honour of the historic occasion, and each visitor will receive a special edition ‘seeded’ ticket to take home and plant for their own celebratory display. 

  

“The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee is a once-in-a-lifetime historic event,” said head of visitor experience Michael Dunn. “We’re pulling out all the stops to make sure our celebratory event will be truly memorable. 

  

“The unveiling of No 70 ‘Elizabeth II’ in its stunning purple livery will be a real ‘wow’ moment as we launch into the weekend. This is going to be an exciting and joyful celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and we can’t wait to welcome our visitors.” 

  

For more information and to book tickets visit https://svr.digitickets.co.uk/category/39838

 

The Beacon Banquet!

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As part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee event, evening services on Thursday 2nd June will transport diners to The Engine House, Highley for a Beacon Banquet, at which the SVR’s beacon will be lit at the same time as thousands of others across the world. 

 

Diners will be seated in private compartments and travel behind 2999 Lady of Legend to Highley.

 

In the impressive surroundings of The Engine House, they will be treated to a banquet curated by SVR executive head chef Lucy Kelly.

 

Inspired by 70 years of mouth-watering dishes served to the Royal Family, the Beacon Banquet will serve dishes made using local produce.

As a thank you for their ongoing support, members and shareholders can get a 10% discount on tickets to the Beacon Banquet by phoning 01562 757900 to make their booking. Please note, this offer cannot be redeemed online.

 

For more information and to book tickets, visit: https://www.svr.co.uk/whats-on/queens-platinum-jubilee-beacon-banquet/

 

Passengers see ‘bigger picture’ with new workshops 

The SVR is collaborating with local experts to offer new sketching and photography workshops to inspire visitors’ ‘inner artist’. Details can be found at https://www.svr.co.uk/whats-on/.

On 14th May, Bewdley-based Foundry Artists will host keen sketchers at The Engine House, Highley.

 

Ticket holders will participate in a curated workshop to gain key sketching skills, with plenty of tips and tricks to inspire them to find their style and confidence.

 

The workshops are suitable for all experience levels, and each one is self-contained. There are further dates between June and October.

For those who capture landscapes on camera, Lee Chapman from Chappers Photography will be hosting two full-day courses. These will help photographers of all experience levels find their perfect shot.

The first course on 15th May is based at The Engine House and will explore the basics of good photography.

A more advanced course on 19th June will teach key skills on landscape and location. Participants will travel to Arley to capture the beautiful country station, its staff and environment.

Head of visitor experience Michael Dunn told Branch Lines: “The SVR offers incredible landscapes and dramatic industrial scenes. We’re excited to offer these new experiences, inspired by the best things that Shropshire and Worcestershire have to offer.

“We’re thrilled to be working with locally-based creative companies and are keen to expand our partnerships. These are part of a range of new experiences in the 2022 calendar, including soap-making with Severn Soaps, walking tours of Bewdley and visits to Arley Arboretum.”  

 

The workshops can be booked online at www.svr.co.uk and include a Freedom of the Line ticket for unlimited travel throughout the day. Members receive a discount.

Everyone loves an A4 especially photographers. Credit Tony Carwithen
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Sketching at The Engine House. Foundry Artists
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Spring Diesel Festival guaranteed to be a bumper event

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The Severn Valley has a humdinger of a Festival, with around 15 locomotives planned to be in use over four days of exclusive modern traction from 19th – 22nd May.


The newly announced star of the show will be Class 33 D6515, a first-time visitor to the Railway, courtesy of 71A locomotives based at Swanage.


The Festival will follow the traditional ‘hop on hop off’ format. The timetable is available and tickets can be booked online at svr.co.uk with savings against on-the-day prices. Multi-day rovers are again available, offering further savings.


Familiar features are sales stands from SVR diesel groups on Kidderminster Town station concourse, and the TMD will be open for tours.


Ticket and pass holders will receive a complimentary souvenir brochure in partnership with Platform 5, publisher of Today’s Railways UK.


The 33 and previously announced Peaks D4 Great Gable and D182, arrived from Swanage on 10th May.


No fewer than five main line locomotives will visit, courtesy of their operators. Some of the identities are still to be confirmed:

 

  • Class 69 from GBRf - hauling its first passenger services

  • Class 67 from DB Cargo - making its first visit to an SVR gala-style event

  • Class 68 from Direct Rail Services

  • Class 73 from GBRf, Nos 73107 and 73136


Chairman of the diesels committee Jonathan Dunster told Branch Lines: “We have very strong relationships with several main line companies and are thrilled that they're supporting our Festival.


“We’re particularly excited by the Class 69 returning to the Railway after the support we were able to give GBRf, as they brought locomotives to us for testing before service on the main line. It really does promise to be a bumper event!”


Please note the non-availability of previously announced visitor D9009 'Alycidon' following electrical issues on the locomotive’s return to traffic.


The home fleet in use will comprise Class 14 D9551, Class 52 duo D1015 Western Champion and D1062 Western Courier; and 50007 Hercules and 50035 Ark Royal.


Long-term visitors appearing will be 40106 Atlantic Conveyor, Class 17 D8568 and 31466. In early summer D8568 will head home to Chinnor (via the West Somerset Railway) and 31466 return to the Dean Forest. We will be sorry to see them go! 


As a taster, D4 Great Gable will operate SVR timetabled services between 15th and 17th May. You can download the diesel roster from svr.co.uk 


As we publish Branch Lines the locomotive allocations and some arrangements are still being finalised, so keep an eye open for further announcements. All attractions are subject to availability.

Missing you already. The Class 17 and 31 long-stay visitors will be leaving during the summer, but after their appearance at the Festival. Here are some recent images of them doing what they do best on the Valley. Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and photo credits.

 

Across the Railway

West (and East) side Story

Branch Lines readers will probably be aware of the Network Rail project to replace OWW FB104, the long footbridge at Kidderminster.

 

Work by contractors Story Contracting Limited (SCL) is continuing, and our thanks are due to SVR volunteer and SCL professional Chris Baines for keeping us informed of progress. 

Chris told Branch Lines: “Many people will be asking why the project has gone on so long, and it's true that the project was originally due to be completed before the season began. As it stands the date for the installation of the metalwork is still not set.

“I know there will be mixed feelings with this news as some would want to use the bridge while others will be happy to keep the open plan look to the site for a few weeks longer.”

Chris and SCL foreman Dave Owen have kindly provided further images of work during April.

Chris continued: “Since last month’s Branch Lines, the parts of the west pier that will be buried were waterproofed before the fill material was compacted to the level at which the stair footings will sit. The rebar and shuttering for the stair case footing were installed ready for the concrete pour in early May.

“Some eagle-eyed members may have noticed the new embankment on the west side is quite wide and comes in front of the front face of the pier. This is a temporary situation to allow machine access to install the remaining items. Once the work is complete this will be stripped back and the slopes finished as per the design.

“On the east side, the trenchbox supports that were above the top of the concrete were removed and the sides of the sacrificial trench box were cut down to what will be 300mm below ground level. The re-bar cage was built and shuttered, and the concrete pour took place on the 26th April.”

Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and photo credits.

OWW104 east side April 2022. Dave Owen (13)
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OWW104 east side April 2022. Dave Owen (19)
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OWW104 east side April 2022. Dave Owen (18)
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OWW104 east side April 2022. Dave Owen (20)
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OWW104 east side April 2022. Dave Owen (16)
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OWW104 west side 2022-04-14. Chris Baines
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OWW104 west side 28th April 2022. Chris Baines
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Rolling stock news

Barry Railway coach 163 to leave the SVR

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The Barry Railway Carriage Trust has announced that coach 163, a familiar sight to visitors as a long-term restoration project in Hampton Loade station yard, will be leaving the Railway.

Trustee Dewi Jones told Branch Lines: “With volunteers’ progress hampered by working in the open air and Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions, progress over the last two years has been slow.

 

Consequently, with restoration work now needing to be re-done, ongoing restoration still to progress, limited potential use on the Railway and no undercover storage, the SVR and the Trust have agreed that 163 will leave.

“The trustees have decided that either the team will continue restoring the coach on another nearby site, or the vehicle will be transferred to a new owner with similar aims to continue restoration.”

The Trust relocated 163 to Hampton Loade 30 years ago, where the body of the former six-wheeled coach was attached to a modified four-wheeled underframe.

Dewi added: “Extensive research and repairs have been carried out by a small band of volunteers over many years. From a shell it has had the compartment partitions, ceilings, floor and external cladding replaced. New electrical light fittings were made and fitted, doors overhauled and locks made. We believe that 75% of the work to return it to passenger use is done.”

163 was built by Ashbury’s Carriage and Wagon Company in 1895 as a first- and second-class composite coach. Unusually for the time, it was fitted with electric lighting and has solid brass window frames which reflected the prosperity of this railway. It was withdrawn by the Great Western Railway in 1928 and the grounded body became a dwelling in the Clent Hills near Bromsgrove until 1992.

Further information may be obtained from the Trust by emailing dewitrains@gmail.com

 

Comings, goings and Hagley Hall on the horizon?

The shed may be empty but there’s no time to rest at Bridgnorth, as volunteer shed master Martin White reports:

An assessment in early May of the first operational month of the 2022 season reveals that it has been exceptionally busy. Open House, Easter and the Spring Steam Gala have all taken place in quick succession.

 

Added into these operational activities within the MPD, locos have been undergoing testing, Gala guests arriving and departing, as well as home fleet locos 2857 and 75069 leaving to make visits to other railways.

 

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, largely hidden from view, the application of purple paint, jubilee lining and logos on ‘Taw Valley’ has been completed, ‘Hagley Hall’ has crept ever closer to its first steaming and the clearance of the main works shed at Bridgnorth has been accomplished!

To write in detail about all of the above would fill Branch Lines on its own, so I have selected just a few items to elaborate on. From a locomotive perspective the Gala went smoothly, except for 813, which suffered a major failure whilst working a Bridgnorth – Hampton Loade local service on Saturday afternoon, covered elsewhere in Branch Lines.

The visiting locos at the Gala, 506, 2999 and 4498 seemed to be enjoyed by crews, fellow volunteers, and visitors alike. I would like to highlight the efforts of the 4498 support crew who, assisted at times by LSL and ESMP staff, worked tirelessly and without complaint over many weeks of testing and fettling their locomotive, whilst ‘camped out’ in their support coach at Bridgnorth.

A busy yard at Bridgnorth on 1st May 2022 as Roof and Crane works begin. David Bissett.jpe
2999 Lady of Legend is prepared - taken from the ashpit with permission and under supervis

Now, to respond to the question that I am asked more often than anything else currently: when will ‘Hagley Hall’ have its first test steaming? At the time of writing, I am happy to say that having smoke out of the chimney and steam out of the drain cocks is now just days away. But, the final stages of a loco overhaul, despite being eagerly anticipated and closely followed, are almost impossible to predict! So, it’s not to be unexpected if they take a little longer than hoped. (Note from editor: see our separate article above with very exciting news about 'Hagley Hall'!)

‘Steam locos don’t do deadlines’ is a phrase that I have heard used. Deadlines however do occur in other areas. Tuesday 3rd May was the deadline to hand over a completely empty loco shed at Bridgnorth to the roof & crane contractors. At 08:00 on that morning I was delighted to walk through our workshop with the site foreman from Walsh Construction (the primary contractor) and say to him ‘it’s over to you’. The preparation work on the shed commenced in December 2021 and the planning started some months ahead of that. Thank you and well done to everyone, volunteer and paid staff, who helped us reach that particular deadline.

A busy yard at Bridgnorth on 1st May 2022 as Roof and Crane works begin. David Bissett

2999 Lady of Legend is prepared - taken from the ashpit with permission and under supervision. 21st April 2022. Keith Wilkinson

 

Locomotive GWR 813 suffers casting damage

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Damage to GWR813. Martin White.jpg

On Saturday evening during the Spring Steam Gala, 23rd April, locomotive GWR 813 unfortunately failed at Hampton Loade with the fracture of the large casting that supports the rear axle springing under the cab floor, extending beneath the coal bunker. This is believed to be the original 122-year-old component.

This is likely to be a significant repair, which will take its owners, the GWR 813 Preservation Fund, considerable time and money to rectify. Sadly, the loco missed the South Devon Railway 150 celebration, and will also miss several months of steamings at the Embsay and Bolton Abbey Railway.

These images from Martin White show the spring house protruding into the cab footplate and the broken casting in situ.

Damage to GWR813. Martin White

 

People

Shareholder review – last chance to contribute!

A reminder that SVR (Holdings) is working with Durnin Research Limited to conduct an independent shareholder review of the Railway. The deadline to complete the survey is Saturday 14th May 2022.

Shareholders can take part at https://surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SVRShareholderReview and it’s important that shareholders engage with this research if they want to be included in the review. Over 1,200 shareholders have already completed the online survey, around 10% of the total number.

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Key findings from the research will be reported at the SVRH annual general meeting. This will be held at 2.30 pm on Saturday 11th June 2022 at St. George's Hall, Load Street, Bewdley, DY12 2EQ.

AGM notices will be sent by post and email in the usual way, together with the password for the protected documents and a 'Your Share' newsletter. A webpage for the AGM is at https://www.svrlive.com/agm2022

 

Dining services due to resume. But your help is needed!

Severn Valley Venturer volunteer staff in 2019.jpg

The Railway is really looking forward to restarting its dining services this summer, and is working hard to overcome a few challenges in order for this to happen. It’s hoped to put on services in the coming months for Sunday lunch dining with the Severn Valley Venturer. Keep an eye on www.svr.co.uk for further announcements!

 

The Venturer is volunteer-operated, and volunteer Paul Thursfield told Branch Lines: “One of the hurdles is ensuring that we have sufficient staff to cover the service, each Sunday we need a team of 10 people and help either serving meals or washing up.

“So, if you like meeting people and can walk down a moving train then you’d be very welcome to join the Railway as a volunteer! Please contact the Volunteer Liaison Office http://svr-vlo.org.uk/contact-us2.html.”

The Venturer is a pair of designated vehicles (LMS Restaurant First Open 7511 and BR Restaurant Buffet 1682) that form a dining set attached to a scheduled service train. The rolling stock and most volunteers start from Bridgnorth, and the dining service commences at Kidderminster.

 

Other news

Charitable Trust demonstrates its impact

The Charitable Trust’s trustees and members gathered in Kidderminster on 25th April for the Trust’s AGM in the run up to its 10th anniversary year. Chaired by Keith Norton, the meeting demonstrated the significant impact of the Trust’s activities as well as the incredible support from donors and grant makers in the last financial year.

During the 12-month period, £1.5 million was raised for important rolling stock, infrastructure and educational projects, thanks to the support of generous donors and grant makers, in addition to substantial emergency grants secured from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport’s Culture Recovery Fund.

Helen Smith also attended the AGM to share details of the SVR’s strategy and take questions.

During the AGM, Laura Shoaf CBE was officially appointed as a trustee, having supported the Charitable Trust for some time.

 

Laura is the first woman in England to a lead a strategic transport authority, and has held a number of senior roles in the West Midlands including head of strategic planning and 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 Trust was also delighted that Paul Fathers and Ron Treverton-Jones were re-elected as trustees during the meeting.

The board is made up of trustees with a vast array of experience, including representatives from the SVR (Holdings) Plc and the SVR Company Limited, Mike Ball and Diane Malyon respectively, who attend regularly to ensure the Charitable Trust’s strategy best supports the needs of the Railway now and in the future.

The Trust’s executive director Shelagh Paterson told Branch Lines: “Thank you to everyone who supports the Charitable Trust, including donors, legacy pledgers, grant makers and corporate members, as well as our trustees and the team, both volunteer and paid, for making such a big difference.”

The painted bracket signal at Bewdley, funded by contributions to the CT. Photo: Matthew Morgan

Ron-Treverton-Jones (upper left), Paul Fathers (upper right), Laura Shoaf (lower)

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Catering returns upstairs at The Engine House

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The SVR’s popular grab-and-go offer at The Engine House, Highley will now be available in the upstairs café, where visitors will be able to enjoy a selection of hot and cold drinks, alcoholic drinks, sandwiches, baguettes, deli salads, pasties, cookies, cakes and confectionery.

Executive head chef Lucy Kelly explained, “The move upstairs will allow us to complete some remedial works to the downstairs café area, and will also help us to focus on returning a hot food offer to The Engine House.

“Because The Engine House is now 14 years old,” added Engine House manager Nicky Freeman, “it’s inevitable that certain facilities need to be upgraded over time. We’re very much looking forward to seeing everyone in the coming months.“

Enjoy the view from The Engine House balcony! Nicky Freeman

 

A model event!

Making a successful return to the events calendar, the Spring Model Railway Weekend saw bumper crowds at The Engine House. 

 

Having usually been a part of Open House Weekend, the two events were split this year, with model railway layouts taking centre stage. 

 

With 27 layouts in attendance, showcasing a variety of scales from 009 to 0, highlights included Cregwir, a layout based on the Island of Sodor with characters from The Railway Series, including Thomas, Stepney, Bear and Wilbert. Other layouts on display were a ‘have a go’ live steam layout with LNER A4s, Halfpenny Green with engines local to Worcester, and Campbell’s Quarry, where a crane scooped sand up, dropped it into wagons before it was dropped off further up the line.

 

“The Engine House had a real buzz,” said events manager Lewis Maddox. “It was great seeing families enjoy everything we had on offer. The model railway operators really showcased their skills, and the detail was magnificent. This event has been a long time in the making, with most of the models having been booked to come since 2020, so it was great to finally see them on show. 

 

“Model railways return to The Engine House during our Autumn Model Railway Weekend in September, where we focus on ‘0’ gauge. Entries are already open for next year’s event, so get in touch if you have a model railway you’d like to bring along – it’s a fantastic show!”

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Railtours Central!

April saw a good deal of main line activity with an SVR interest, as these images show.

Saphos Trains’ ‘Severn Valley Enterprise’ ran from Llandudno Junction to Bridgnorth on 27th April. The main steam power was BR Standard 70000 ‘Britannia’ operating from Crewe to Bridgnorth and return, with diesel 47501 on the rear throughout.

During the Spring Steam Gala on 23rd April two different trips took place.

67006 ‘Royal Sovereign' and 67010 ‘Unicorn’ brought an inbound UK Railtours charter to Kidderminster, with the stock using the SVR carriage shed for servicing and stabling. The tour ran from King’s Cross with options to visit the SVR Gala, the Black Country Museum, or the other attractions of Kidderminster.

On the same day the Class 50 Alliance’s 50007 'Hercules' paired with sister 50008 'Thunderer' with the Branch Line Society’s ‘Ore and More’ tour of the South Coast, with positioning moves on the days before and after.

Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and photo credits.

Saphos Trains Severn Valley Enterprise
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Saphos Trains Severn Valley Enterprise
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Saphos Trains Severn Valley Enterprise
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V1 12th May 2022 

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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.