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May 2023

7812 Erlestoke Manor on the 9.30am from Kidderminster at Crossing Keeper's Cottage on 15th
7812 Erlestoke Manor on the 9.30am from Kidderminster at Crossing Cottage on 15th April 2023 during the Spring Steam Gala.
Kevin Whitehurst

Welcome to your latest edition of Branch Lines!

Did you manage to pay a visit to the Railway during our recent Spring Steam Gala? We very much hope you did, but if not, there are plenty of photographs here to show what you missed, and a report on the success of this event. 

In our lead story this month, we report on the launch and very promising start of the Railway’s Survival Fund appeal. We have an update on its progress so far, and some words of thanks and encouragement from managing director Gus Dunster. 

The timetable review has taken place, and there are going to be some changes from the end of this month. However, as Gus explains, it’s all being done very carefully, and with a close eye on cost implications. 

We are looking forward with great anticipation to what’s going to be an absolute cracker of a Spring Diesel Festival. Celebrating 50 years of diesel preservation, and bringing together more than 20 locomotives representing at least 15 classes – the SVR has all the goodies lined up for next week. We have details on what’s going to be there and some preview photos of the visitors. 

Elsewhere, we cover April’s trial photo charter, an update on the GW carriage door lock issues, a Coronation time-capsule at Bewdley, news from the Bridgnorth loco shed, the dedicated group looking after the SVR’s shunter fleet, how the Railway is tackling carbon reduction, and much, much more. You might want to make yourself a cup of tea, and settle down comfortably for your May edition of Branch Lines, which we hope you’ll enjoy!   


Lesley and Patrick, co-editors

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

Next edition Thursday 8th June

What's new?

SVR is ‘enormously grateful’ for Survival Fund donations

43106 completes a spring scene with bluebells in Highley woods, in the sun on 7th May 2023

Last month, the SVR launched a £1.5 million Survival Fund appeal, as part of its strategy to deal with the financial difficulties it is facing. This attracted extensive media coverage, and saw the Railway featuring in both BBC and ITV regional news programmes, on local radio stations and in the local and heritage press. 

The SVR has written to 25,000 shareholders, members and donors asking for their support. The response from close supporters and members of the public has been extremely positive, with £230,000 raised so far for the appeal. 

“Things have got off to a very good start,” said managing director Jonathan ‘Gus’ Dunster, “We are enormously grateful to everyone who has donated so far. It’s clear that many people understand the bigger picture of why the SVR is in financial difficulties, and very importantly why an injection of cash over the coming months will help us get beyond this, so we can concentrate on ensuring the long-term future of the SVR’s heritage.  

“We’ve received hundreds of donations already, and these are coming both from people we know well, and some who are digging deep and supporting the Railway for the very first time. Some of the stories behind why people want to help us are extremely heart-warming and show what an incredibly special place the SVR holds for so many individuals. 

“When we launched the appeal in mid-April, we knew two things; one was that we might get some kick-back from people who perhaps don’t fully understand the enormous difficulties facing the heritage railway movement in general and the SVR in particular, after three years of financial battering. The second was that making this appeal was absolutely the right thing to do, and this was the right time to do it. This brave initiative is going to make all the difference to our long-term survival. 

“Of course, our Survival Fund appeal is not the whole solution. Alongside this, we have implemented every single cost-saving measure we could. These have included a significant reduction in paid staff along with renegotiating supplier contracts, especially for utilities which have rocketed in price.”  

There’s more information about why the SVR has launched its £1.5 million Survival Fund appeal, including a film in which Gus explains more, and links to make a donation at

43106 completes a spring scene with bluebells in Highley woods, in the sun on 7th May 2023. Bob Green

SVR is ‘grateful’ for Survival Fund donations

Extra steam and earlier start times from late May

The Railway is fine-tuning its timetabled services from the end of May, incorporating earlier first-departure times and an extra steam service on selected days.

This follows a planned review of services, and comes after what the Railway called a deliberately ‘careful start’ to the 2023 season.  

“We’re adding an extra steam-hauled service to Timetable B on 56 selected days, starting on 27th May,” said managing director Jonathan ‘Gus’ Dunster. “We took the decision after a great deal of careful consideration, and the constant monitoring of services so far this season"


"The additional round trip has been added for sound business reasons, in order to enhance our passengers’ experience. It will comprise up to seven coaches, in order to be suitable for haulage predominantly by 7714, our smaller pannier tank engine"

7714 with people on the station, Anthony Carwithen.jpg

“The careful start we’ve made means we can now add these additional services, working within the budget we have set for the year. However, we will continue to focus very closely on our operating costs at all times. The use of the revised Timetable B will remain under continual review, and if necessary, further changes may be made should costs rise again, or should visitor numbers not meet those forecast. It remains crucial that we only operate fully profitable services. In our current financial situation we simply cannot afford to expose ourselves to any more risk than absolutely necessary.  

“We’ll be making announcements about footplate experiences in due course.”


The revised Timetable B will apply during the forthcoming spring half-term holiday and other selected dates during the rest of the season through to early November, on a total of 56 days. It incorporates an additional S3 service, which will make one round trip each day, leaving Kidderminster at 12.45pm. The SVR intends that this will be steam-hauled whenever possible, although it reserves the right to use a heritage diesel for occasional operational reasons.

The revised Timetable B also features an earlier S1 departure from Kidderminster at 10.00am, and the consequent first Bridgnorth departure time of 11.55am. The S2 service (diesel-hauled) will depart KR at 11.15am. 

On the remaining days, apart from special events, a revised Timetable A will operate, commencing on 8th June. This will also see S1 depart Kidderminster at 10.00am and S2 at 11.15am, and the first Bridgnorth departure will be at 11.55am.  

“Whilst we are delighted to be able to introduce these enhancements to our scheduled services, it is important to remember that the SVR is still fighting for financial survival,” said chairman Chris Walton. “Our £1.5 million Survival Fund appeal is going well - at the time of announcing these timetable changes we’ve already raised £230,000 (see separate article on the appeal), and donations are coming in every day. However, there is a very long way to go until we are on the other side of our difficulties. We are managing the situation on many different fronts, and timetabling is one of the key components.”  

7714 with people on the station, Anthony Carwithen

Extra steam and earlier start times

A record-breaking collection of traction for Spring Diesel Festival

Class 31 270, courtesy of Colne Valley Diesels.png
D1062 Western Courier awaits duty on 6th May 2023, its 60th birthday. Matt Robinson.jpg
Class 43 power cars 43465 and 43484 at Bewdley Tunnel on 5th May 2023, bringing wagons for

The SVR’s annual spring festival of diesel locomotives returns on 18th to 21st May for a four-day intensively timetabled extravaganza, celebrating 50 years of diesel preservation. 


A host of further visitors have recently been announced, including the must-see spectacle of a ‘Castle’ Class 255 High Speed Train set in service on the line. The HST power cars 43186 and 43188 and four carriages are being provided by GWR, and will operate on each day of the event. 


“This really is a massive coup for us,” explained managing director Jonathan ‘Gus’ Dunster. “It’s the first Gala event at which we’ve had the honour of operating this iconic train. Although GWR’s train is still very much in main line service, the class forms the latest chapter in diesel preservation, with a number now in private, preserved ownership. 


“And we’ve got not just one HST, but also a set of HST power cars! A pair (43465 and 43484) from Rail Adventure will be hauling services on the Friday of the event, and staying on display for the Saturday and Sunday.” 


Other locomotives recently announced are Class 20 20189, Class 31 31270, Class 37 37263 and an as-yet-unidentified Class 88, which will operate only on the Saturday and Sunday of the event. There’ll be two locomotives on static display, Class 20 20142 and a Class 73/9. 


“We are sorry to have to announce that Class 58 no. 58023 will not now be appearing at the event," added Gus. "This is due to technical issue which unfortunately cannot be rectified in time. We are however, working closely with the owner of the locomotive and hope to see it operating here later in the year. We really appreciate all the efforts that have been made by all concerned to have 58023 ready in time and we look forward in anticipation to its arrival in a few months time.”

The special guests will be joined by the varied SVR fleet, including Class 42 D821 and Class 33 33108 boasting eye-catching new liveries. The event will feature around 15 different classes in all. 


Four through sets and three local sets will feature each day, with running late into the evening.


Visitors will have the opportunity to rack up mileage behind their favourite locomotives, hop on and off at the SVR’s period stations, and experience additional attractions across the line.  


A full-colour programme, including the timetable, will be available to passengers free of charge on the day, thanks to sponsorship from Platform 5 and advertisers.


This will include a QR code that visitors will be able to scan to link directly with the loco allocations online. Allocations will be announced tomorrow, Friday 12th May.


Along with both pubs, all the catering venues and a beer tent at Bewdley, there’ll be trade and preservation stalls at Kidderminster concourse, and the opportunity for guided tours of the Kidderminster TMD.


Tour tickets cost £10 and are available from the Fifty Fund stall at Kidderminster.  

Gus added: “Back in May 1973, a small group of far-sighted individuals saved Warship D821 ‘Greyhound’ from oblivion. Thanks to them, 50 years on, we have a wonderful collection of classic diesel locomotives across the UK heritage railway movement. These are as much a part of our industrial heritage as the steam locomotives they replaced, and we are proud to showcase them at this event, along with ‘Greyhound’ itself.”

Tickets for the unique event and further information are available at   

Class 31 270, courtesy of Colne Valley Diesels

D1062 Western Courier awaits duty on 6th May 2023, its 60th birthday. Matt Robinson

Class 43 power cars 43465 and 43484 at Bewdley Tunnel on 5th May 2023, bringing wagons for contract examination and storage. Roger Cutts

A record collection of traction for Diesel Festival

Urgent transport request! 

The SVR has had an offer of some point-work components which may be of use for the next phase of the Bridgnorth Yard project. They are located near Nottingham in the East Midlands and require transporting to the SVR.  

Head of infrastructure Chris Bond is appealing for help from anyone who has access to an HIAB-equipped vehicle who would be able to collect them and deliver to the SVR.


He’s hoping the offer might come at no cost, although the SVR would cover fuel expenses. If you can help, please contact Chris Bond on

Pointwork components.jpg
Urgent transport request! 

What's coming up?

News from SVR (Holdings) Plc

Mark Whitehouse.jpg
Nick Paul.jpg
Mike Ball.jpg
Steve Featherstone.jpg

The AGM of SVR (Holdings) Plc will be held on Saturday 10th June at St George’s Hall, Bewdley, starting at 2.30pm. Notification letters are being sent to the approximately 12,000 shareholders for whom active addresses are held. Shareholders will also receive a copy of the SVR Shareholder Handbook, in line with the recommendations made by last year’s shareholder review. 


Two new directors have been recently co-opted to the board. Mark Whitehouse and Steve Featherstone have long and distinguished records in the main line rail sector, and there’s more information on both at

Shareholders will vote in person at the AGM, or online or by proxy, on whether the two new appointments should be formalised, along with the re-appointment of two existing directors.

At April’s board meeting, the directors voted unanimously to invite two former, long-serving board members to the role of vice-president. Mike Ball and Nick Paul CBE have been asked to take on this honorary role, in recognition of the much-valued and considerable contributions they have made to the SVR.

Managing director and deputy chair Jonathan ‘Gus’ Dunster paid tribute to Mike, who retired as chair just over a month ago:  

“I don’t think any words from me can adequately describe the monumental contribution Mike has made to the SVR over the years I have known him. His efforts have been magnificent and have literally saved the Railway on more than one occasion. 

“On a personal level, Mike has been a true inspiration to me ever since he first suggested that I might consider joining the board, in his words "to give something back to the Railway." His wise counsel has always been available and his considered, broad-minded approach, always looking at the bigger picture, has been an example to us all as to how senior leaders in a business should behave in order for the organisation to flourish. “ 

Nick Paul stepped down from the role of chairman in September 2021, but continued as a director until earlier this year. Mike Ball said: 

“Nick has brought astute senior-level business management experience and significant financial expertise to the Railway. During his tenure, he focused the board on the management of its finances, and his skills were invaluable as he led the company through the financial challenges emanating from the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, as a trustee, he has played a major role in the transformation of the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust into a highly successful fundraising organisation.”  

From left to right: [top]  Mark Whitehouse, Mike Ball,  [bottom] Nick Paul and Steve Featherstone

News from SVR (Holdings) Plc
SVR launches premium on-train dining

SVR launches premium on-train dining experiences

The SVR has teamed up with a local luxury catering business to launch a range of premium on-train dining experiences for 2023. 


A successful trial Sunday lunch at Easter with Bewdley-based Paisley Flour Catering received excellent feedback from the travelling diners, and the Railway is now working in partnership with Paisley to offer a wide variety of premium dining experiences.


High-quality Sunday lunches, afternoon teas, wedding breakfasts, private dining and more, are available on selected dates from May through to September. 


Diners will travel in first-class luxury, as they’re served locally sourced and seasonally inspired dishes. For food lovers, it’s a chance to step back in time to the golden age of steam, and enjoy delicious, carefully crafted dishes in the unique and picturesque setting of rural Worcestershire and Shropshire.


These services are already proving extremely popular, bringing valuable revenue to the Railway. Following on from the successful launch of premium dining the Railway is now preparing to expand its offerings. 

“We are thrilled to announce that a series of mid-range on-train dining options will be available soon for our visitors to book,” said visitor experience manager Nicky Freeman. “Our goal is to offer quality services to all passengers, expanding our dining options and catering to a more diverse customer base. With these new offerings, we hope to continue generating much-needed revenue while catering to a wider range of budgets and improving the overall on-board experience for everyone. Stay tuned for more updates on our upcoming dining packages.” 

To find out more about the range of dining experiences currently available visit   

Customers can dine in style for fantastic food offerings from Paisley Flour, including Sun
The observation saloon offers unparalleled luxury on the Severn Valley Railway.jpg

SVR Branch meetings

Wolverhampton Low Level. c 1962. Photographer unknown. Keith Hodgkins, Living memory proje

SVR Wolverhampton branch’s last meeting of its current season will be on 15th May: ‘Black Country Steam – A New Selection’ is a black and white digital presentation by Keith Hodgkins. 


Meetings are held at the Old Wulfrunians Club, Castlecroft Road, Castlecroft, Wolverhampton, WV3 8NA, commencing at 7.30 pm. £3.00 admittance including raffle.


For future events keep an eye on the branch website at  Meetings are open to all.  

Wolverhampton Low Level. c 1962. Photographer unknown. Keith Hodgkins, Living memory project 

SVR Branch meetings

Dates for your diary! 

The SVR has some exciting special days for you to enjoy! Spend a full day with us by booking Freedom of the Line tickets or a fantastic value shorter journey from Kidderminster or Bridgnorth to Highley. Every Freedom of the Line ticket includes a free return visit, so you can catch up on anything you’ve missed! 


Mechanical Horses weekend 12th to 14th May, at Kidderminster. Existing timetable B. 

These three-wheeled lorries and their two-wheeled trailer units were a common sight at railway stations around the country, and Scammell built more than 30,000 lorries between 1934 and 1968. Several working examples will be visiting for a long weekend. 


Morris Minors on 14th May at Highley. Existing timetable B.  

The Shropshire branch of the Morris Minor Owners Club will hold their annual rally, with up to 30 of the finest vehicles on display at Highley station. 


BrickLive™ Brickosaurs for half term 27th May to 4th June at The Engine House visitor centre at Highley. Revised timetable B. 

Take a brick-built tour around The Engine House and travel back thousands of years to see Velociraptors, Diplocaulus, Ankylosaur, a trio of Archaeoceratops and much more – made from over 500,000 bricks. 


Bewdley Bike week runs between 29th May to 2nd June. Revised timetable B

With the organisers’ support, up to 12 cyclists each day will travel with their bikes for the flat fare of only £5! Pre-booking from is essential as no bike tickets will be available on the day. 


The 10.15am train (note revised time) from Bewdley will deliver riders to Hampton Loade, immediately adjacent to National Cycle Route 45. Cyclists will pedal back to Arley station (about five miles), from where riders and bikes will be transported back to Bewdley by an afternoon train, at no extra cost.  

Real Ale Festival 9th and 10th June at The Engine House. Revised timetable B. 

In partnership with CAMRA and Bewdley Brewery. Travel by train to Highley and enjoy your choice from more than 20 cask ales, from pale ales to stouts and porters, from breweries across the UK - keep an eye on the event page on the SVR website for a list of breweries and beers. There’ll be live music each day between midday and 3pm. Entry to The Engine House will require purchase of an SVR pint ‘glass’ for just £2.   

Velociraptor 2.jpg
This 1933 Morris Minor in royal blue with its distinct glistening bodywork  will be in att
Bewdley Bike Week.jpg
Lancaster. Keith Wilkinson.jpg
Dates for your diary! 

Across the railway

‘Pendennis Castle’ Photo Charter

As previewed in April’s Branch Lines, a photocharter was held with Timeline Events and GWR 4079 ‘Pendennis Castle’ on 22nd April. The photographers enjoyed themselves, starting from Bewdley and including Victoria Bridge, Kinlet and Eardington Bank. At one point 11 GW coaches were in tow, an impressive sight! It was a long day, with two complete crews used.  

This was a trial event and the Railway is reviewing all aspects of the day before deciding whether to go ahead with further photo charters.

Robert Batty of Point and Shoot Photography was one of the participants and he shared his impressions:

“I've often looked at the list of events on the Timeline Events calendar looking to see if there's anything that tempts me enough, but I've remained a TLEvents virgin! That was until I saw the opportunity to have a full evening with Pendennis Castle with the beautiful GWR coaches.

“As tempting as it was, the decision wasn't straightforward, as I was already down at the SVR the weekend before, and had made plans to see one of the other Castles working over the Settle and Carlisle Railway that morning...

“Living in West Yorkshire the Dales are just a stone's throw away from home - but in the opposite direction to Bewdley! The temptation got too much, and I plunged myself into a long day, leaving the house mid-morning, and not returning until the early hours of the next day. I was happy to take on the challenge as I would be gifted the chance to photograph 4079 around Bewdley station from several vantage points for a good few hours - I don't think I left a composition untouched!

“I was joined by a friendly bunch who were there for the same reason, which was to create a bit of a window into the past, which was aided by the number of reenactors dotted around the station, all of whom were more than willing to work with the camera. 


“The event was carefully managed to ensure that everyone left with something that they wanted. As I've said, it was my first time with TLEvents, and just like my first time I visited the SVR back in 2015, I know for certain it won’t be my last!”  

Click on the gallery to see larger images. Photo credits Robert Batty of Point and Shoot Photography.

‘Pendennis Castle’ Photo Charter 




Steam Gala Triumph! 

The SVR’s Spring Steam Gala showed the Railway at the top of its game – surpassing expectations and highlighting the line as a major attraction for heritage-railway enthusiasts from across the country. 

Despite mixed weather across the three days, people came in their thousands with both the visiting guest roster and home fleet once again pulling in strong crowds. Visiting 4555 was withdrawn on the final afternoon of the Gala, because of a defective piston gland and warm little end. The impact of this was minimal, leading only to the cancellation of one local service. Commenting on the success of the gala, chair of the SVR Company Limited Diane Malyon said: 

“It has been absolutely fantastic to see the Railway come alive once more, showcasing exactly what we do best. It was particularly pleasing to see so many people stepping in to help in areas they’d not previously volunteered in. The end result was a credit to everyone and certainly led to plenty of positive comments, both in person and online. Congratulations all round!” 

More than 5,000 people bought tickets across the three days, along with hundreds of shareholders who also attended. Secondary spend was also very impressive across the Railway’s commercial outlets. Managing director Jonathan ‘Gus’ Dunster said: 

“The SVR is famous for the quality of its enthusiast events, and our first Gala this year showed exactly why. It has been a triumph of planning, passion, and sheer hard work.

“Our volunteers and paid staff can be extremely proud of what we’ve achieved with this event. They’ve pulled out all the stops, in true SVR style, and quite honestly it’s a great privilege to be involved with the Railway right now.” 

Tickets are already on sale for the SVR’s Autumn Steam Gala, where the SVR will once again be hosting a selection of guest locomotives alongside its fantastic home steam engine fleet, for three days of intensive timetabling from Friday 15th to Sunday 17th September.  Tickets can be pre-booked at  

Click on the gallery to see larger images and photo credits.

Steam Gala Triumph! 

SVR energy and carbon reduction plan

Electricity meter.png

Everyone connected with the Railway is aware of the need to save energy, as highlighted in recent editions of Branch Lines. It has adopted an energy and carbon reduction plan to establish the total energy use and carbon footprint.  


Peter Philipson, a volunteer in the infrastructure department, is managing this project. Data collection is well underway, based on the 2022 year, using industry-standard auditing methods for energy assessments. 


Peter told Branch Lines: “Firstly, all sources of energy use for the buildings must be identified, checked and analysed – including utility bills and invoices for other fuels. Products used by engineering such as oxygen and acetylene need to be included. We will also analyse company-owned vehicles, leased vehicles and the ‘grey fleet’ (business mileage claimed by employees). 


“Once we know the total energy consumption, we will start individual building audits. These are detailed surveys of all major buildings on the SVR, starting with the largest and most energy-intensive.  


“An important part of the process engages with building users – so interviews with staff and volunteers who will usually have detailed knowledge of their operation and how they consume energy. This will build upon ‘sustainability and carbon reduction’ interviews conducted during 2021.”  

Once complete, recommendations for each building will show how energy consumption could be reduced. Changing buildings and their heating and lighting systems might require significant capital expenditure, which in the current financial climate may be unaffordable for the SVR. However, Peter added: “It should be possible to concentrate on low-cost or no-cost recommendations that can be implemented relatively easily.” 


The Railway is already including sustainability in major projects, such as was done in Bridgnorth Loco Shed. Beyond the energy audit, it is engaging with energy suppliers to have smart meters installed at all locations and to move towards 100% renewable energy. It’s also looking for fully-funded solutions to install sustainable energy sources such as solar photovoltaic panels, thereby reducing energy costs with no capital cost up-front.  

SVR energy and carbon reduction plan

Beam me up, safely!

A successful load test of the fall-arrest system in Bewdley Goods Shed marks a big step forward in enabling work on goods wagon roof repairs to resume. 

Volunteer yard master at Bewdley, Clive Thompson, told Branch Lines: “This system has been out of use for some time due to uncertainties over whether it was fit to be certified. On 28th April, structural engineers from MMB Services visited.


The test involved suspending a one tonne weight at various points along the beam, checking for any deflections, and then re-measuring once the load had been removed to check that it had regained its previous position. The test was entirely successful. 

“It’s important progress, and there are still considerable further steps needed to enable wagon roof repairs to resume.” 

MMB Services check the fall-arrest apparatus at Bewdley goods shed on 28th April 2023. Cli

Structural engineers Martha and Dulcie from MMB Services check the fall-arrest apparatus as the beam takes the strain 

Beam me up, safely!

Rolling stock

May update from the loco shed 

4079 'Pendennis Castle' on the ramp. Martin White.jpg
7812 on its departing transport. Martin White.jpg

Volunteer shed master Martin White often lets Branch Lines readers know about the tremendous amount of time and effort that goes into preparing the steam loco fleet for Gala events, especially from the perspective of visiting locos and unexpected issues occurring. And as he tells us this month, 2023’s Spring Steam Gala was no different, although it was the departure of locos by road that probably generated more than its fair share of problems: 

I won’t go into all the details, but perhaps some simple facts will give an indication of the complexity. At one point Kidderminster carriage works yard and the adjacent main line car park had three heavy-haulage trailers and tractor units present queuing up for their collections. And during Tuesday 25th and Wednesday 26th April, the M5 motorway heading south from Worcester, would have seen, 7812 ‘Erlestoke Manor’, 4079 ‘Pendennis Castle’, 4555 and 21C127 ‘Taw Valley’ all on their way to their next destination. I doubt that this stretch of motorway has ever seen so many steam loco movements in such a short period!  

‘Taw Valley’ was unexpectedly and at very short notice, called upon by our friends at the West Somerset Railway to attend their gala event, and that’s the reason it joined in with the heavy-haulage jamboree! I would like to thank all the volunteers and paid staff who helped out during what was, at times, a rather frantic period.

Shortly after the gala, 75069 was moved into the works at Bridgnorth to have its paint work refurbished. The top of the boiler especially had deteriorated badly. This work is progressing well but has necessitated more effort than originally envisaged. When it was overhauled, the boiler barrel was clad using stainless steel, an experiment for us on the SVR.

Whilst the cladding sheets themselves remain in very good condition the paint work has needed to be stripped right back to bare metal and built up starting with a fresh application of special etch primer. We anticipate that 75069 will vacate the paint shop by the end of May. 

Other loco news in brief: 

Pannier Tank 7714 has completed its annual exams and a number of repairs have been attended to. 

The boiler from Stanier Mogul 13268 should, by the time you read this, be undergoing testing on the boiler wagon in Bridgnorth MPD yard.  


4085 ‘Dunrobin’ continues to make good progress. The driving wheel axle-boxes have been machined and will now be set up on the wheelsets with springs etc ready for re-wheeling, once the slide bars have been installed and aligned with the cylinders.  


The old stalwart, Ivatt class 4 ‘Flying Pig’ 43106, has seen some use during April and May. Catch this loco whilst you can folks as its ‘boiler ticket’ ends this year. Right now it’s anyone’s guess as to when it will actually finish, because any repair that arises and requires more than minor work could sadly see the loco withdrawn.  

4079 'Pendennis Castle' on the ramp. Martin White

7812 on its departing transport. Martin White

May update from the loco shed 

Unsung heroes 

February 2021’s Branch Lines carried an update on the SVR’s essential diesel shunter fleet. Without the volunteers who give their time freely to keep these ageing locomotives running, operating the Railway would much more difficult and expensive. 


09107 was stopped last year with oil-throwing issues and subsequently fire damage. The shunter group’s Trevor Davies told Branch Lines: “The air filtration unit was irreparable, but a contact was able to supply a replacement - very fortuitously, as 08 spares are getting virtually unobtainable. 


“The power unit was stripped to the crankshaft. All piston rings were worn beyond their working limits and replaced. Cylinder heads were stripped and cleaned with all inlet and exhaust valves being machined in our workshop. All cylinder liners were honed out, with thanks to the Class 50 Alliance for the loan of the honing brush. With all parts cleaned down, the engine unit was slowly rebuilt with new items fitted.  

09107 at the Open House Weekend on 1st April 2023, getting ready for the brake van rides.

“After a year’s repairs, some days of running-in were arranged between Bewdley and Kidderminster, with some of our crew invited for a well-received footplate trip.” 


The group usually work two days a week. Trevor continued: “Following Covid-19, we faced retirements and reduced numbers, and a rising age-profile. But we’ve been joined by additional skilled electricians and engineers, and our semi-skilled volunteers help pull this crew of more than 20 together.” 


Trevor has looked at costs, “Finances are obviously a major concern. Depending how many hours they can commit their valuable talents, I estimate the group’s volunteers benefit the Railway by between £1,300 and £2,400 per week - quite an eye opener!” 


“I would like to thank the members who got 09107 back on the road, and the others on the SVR who keep the shunting fleet on the move.”  \

09107 at the Open House Weekend on 1st April 2023, getting ready for the brake van rides. Kevin Whitehurst

Unsung heroes 

SVR on tour

Spring often sees Severn Valley-based vehicles moving to other railways for galas or periods on hire and this year is no exception. These visits generate goodwill and publicity for both the SVR and the owning groups.  


The Diesel Traction Group’s unique Class 17 D8568 is always a popular guest. It visited the Great Central Railway’s Spring Diesel Gala in April, and will continue its travels at this weekend’s (12th to 14th May) Diesel Gala at the Swanage Railway. It will return for our own Spring Diesel Festival. 


A late change to the West Somerset Railway’s Spring Steam Gala saw Taw Valley Limited’s 34027 (in its wartime black 21C127 guise) stepping in to replace an unavailable planned guest locomotive. ‘Taw Valley’ is a rare visitor to other lines. It joined 7812 ‘Erlestoke Manor’ in attending the gala, and which is staying for the summer (see April’s Branch Lines)


Also earning their keep on their travels at other heritage railways are two BR Mark 1 coaches. SVR Holdings-owned Full Brake 81013 is at the Keighley & Worth Valley, and in April the Charitable Trust’s Brake Open Second 9220 was taken on a long trip to Scotland for a spell on the Bo’ness & Kinneil Railway.

Click on the gallery to see larger images and photo credits.

SVR on tour

Other news

Solution for GW carriage door lock issues 

Recently, most of the SVR’s fleet of ex-GWR carriages were temporarily withdrawn from use due to safety concerns about the door locks. This followed a reported ‘near miss’ in late 2022 and also additional information regarding operational issues gathered over the preceding few years. The Great Western Association chair Mick Haynes, and the SVR’s head of traction and rolling stock Martin White have given Branch Lines this update:

Most Great Western carriages are fitted with so-called ‘snap’ locks; when the handle is vertical the door is unlocked, and when the handle is horizontal the door is securely locked. Unfortunately the door can be fully closed but left unsecured if the handle is not turned to the horizontal position.

Guard Hugh McQuade with a GW carriage. Lesley Carr.jpg

Although these have been in operation quite satisfactorily for more than 120 years, following the recent issues the SVR undertook an operational review and is investigating a potential engineering solution. 

We are fortunate that members of the GW (SVR) A, the owner of many of these vehicles on SVR, have a huge amount of knowledge about Great Western carriages, and they have proposed an engineering solution. 

The modification will prevent the door handle from remaining in the vertical position and therefore stop the door from being closed but unsecured. In 1921, the Great Western introduced a ‘semi-slam’ lock for trials, in which the tongue of the lock was modified to strike the internal spring before the handle was in the vertical position. To open the door, pressure had to be maintained to turn the handle to the vertical position. This is similar to how a ‘slam’ lock (or ‘double acting’ lock) works, but it differs in as much the door cannot be slammed to close it because the ‘semi-slam’ requires the handle to be turned against the internal spring pressure, to the vertical position.


The solution requires a new lock tongue to be manufactured and a minor modification to the lock case, but importantly retains the existing lock bodies, handles and springs and retains the present striking plates and springs in the door post. 

From a heritage viewpoint, it maintains the pedigree and appearance of these historically accurate vehicles whilst greatly reducing the risk of accident from a door inadvertently left unsecured.  

This solution should be relatively easy and cheap to implement. The alternatives of modifying the doors to use ‘slam’ locks or fitting new locks similar to those proposed by the Talyllyn Railway, would require modification to all doors and posts which would be very costly and take a considerable period of time to implement. 

Detailed costings are now underway, and plans must be drawn up to replace 140+ lock tongues. Operational staff will need training and familiarisation before the vehicles are re-introduced to traffic. However, it is hoped that, with a lot of determined effort, this could be completed by the commencement of the 2024 operating season.  

Guard Hugh McQuade with a GW carriage. Lesley Carr

Solution for GW carriage door lock issues 

Marking the King’s Coronation at Bewdley station

The plaque which marks the spot. Credit Andy Wassall.jpg
Members of Bewdley station with the Mayor and Mayoress of Bewdley burying the time capsule

Volunteers at Bewdley station made their own tribute to HM King Charles III on bank holiday Monday (8th May), by burying a time capsule in the station orchard. 

The specially-designed metal capsule contains a variety of items to commemorate the day, including photographs of the station staff on duty, the locomotives in service, newspaper cuttings from Coronation Day, as well as memorabilia contributed by Bewdley Primary School, St Anne’s CE Primary School, Wribbenhall Guides and Bewdley Scouts. 

The ceremony was attended by the Mayor and Mayoress of Bewdley, Rod and Lynn Stanczyszyn, as well as the SVR’s managing director, Jonathan ‘Gus’ Dunster. 

“The idea came about when a few of us were talking about what we could do as a group to commemorate the Coronation,” said Susan Wassall, volunteer assistant manager of the station shop. “It’s something that can live there for years, and in the future someone will dig it up and see what the station was like, who was there, and that we were all coming together to celebrate this historic event. Many of us weren’t even born when the last Coronation happened, so this represents a very special moment for us.  

“We don’t want to make any stipulations about when the capsule should be unearthed, we’ll leave that to future generations. We hope they’ll feel a connection with the past when they finally do unearth it, and there’ll be a commemorative plaque above ground, just to make sure it’s not forgotten!” 

The plaque which marks the spot. Credit Andy Wassall

Members of Bewdley station with the Mayor and Mayoress of Bewdley burying the time capsule. Andy Wassall

Marking the King’s Coronation at Bewdley

Models, layouts and buckets of tea!

The Spring Model Railway Exhibition at The Engine House visitor centre at Highley was held on 6th and 7th May.  

“Exhibitors arrived from Friday lunchtime with their large but delicate plywood and MDF layouts,” explained volunteer Nick Willcox. 


“The events and The Engine House teams had a cunning plan, with allocated places already marked out, and were ready to meet the usual requests for trolleys, tables, chairs and power supplies from sockets below the 8F. Meanwhile, unseen, hundreds of lunches of sandwiches, crisps and cake were bagged up in more combinations than your average digital padlock! 

“Saturday arrived with a few layouts still to appear. The priority was the urn, as a queue of thirsty operators soon formed - I thought wagon repairs and footplate crew drank a lot of tea until I saw this lot! Then came the distribution of breakfast baps. The anarchy in the car park was resolved, allowing clear passenger and emergency vehicle access.” 

A good range of layouts was in attendance, ranging from 2mm scale (N Gauge) depicting the depths of winter, to a 7mm scale (O-16.5) narrow gauge line set in the heat of the USA. Several other American based layouts were on display in both N and HO scales, along with two representing European practice. 

The majority depicted UK prototypes both standard and narrow gauge, from the steam era to current operations.  

Nick continued: “For sheer size and peripheral details, Dagnall End from the Redditch MRG deserves a mention, as does Whiteoak Light Railway from the Cradley Club - another O-16.5 line, this time placed in an industrial setting plus quayside. For sheer technical ‘wow’ factor, Remote Depot takes top spot with its radio-controlled fully functional digger and lorries, not to mention the frantically pedalling cyclist… all in 4mm scale! 

“The first train brought both visitors and SVR Junior Club members. The Juniors soon set to, taking turns operating the Erlestoke Manor Fund’s layout (sold during the weekend), selling raffle tickets (Accurascale had generously donated two 4mm scale locomotives to us), and seeing to the tea and coffee supplies and lunch packs.   

“An ‘alternative do’ (!) in London on the Saturday morning might have made things quieter, until the third train arrived, then both Saturday afternoon and Sunday were pleasantly busy.”  

Click on the gallery to see larger images and photo credits.

Models, layouts and buckets of tea!

v1 11th May 2023

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Any opinions or views expressed in this newsletter are entirely the opinions of the contributors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Directors of Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) PLC. which owns the Severn Valley Railway, Severn Valley Railway Company Limited, the members of which are responsible for its operation, or the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust.

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