Taw Valley emerges from Bewdley Tunnel in a rare moment of sun on 14/10/2017 with the 12:30 Kidderminster to Bridgnorth.
By Ian Murray
Welcome to your latest edition of Branch Lines!
There’s only one way to start this month’s Branch Lines, and that’s with a really huge thank you to everyone who supported the SVR’s 2016 Share Offer! We’re still feeling very excited and flushed with success, because as you might just have picked up somewhere or other, on Tuesday this week, the 2016 Share Offer finally closed, and sales shot beyond the £2.5 million target! It has been a nail-biting final few weeks for the share offer organisers, and a month ago, success seemed a very long way off. However, the SVR has triumphed, and has made a truly momentous achievement.
There’s more detail about the share offer success in this newsletter, and you can find out all about the latest progress for building works at Bridgnorth, the focus of all this ambitious fundraising activity.
Not only that, but there’s a host of other news from across the Railway, including details of some of our restoration projects such as LNER 24105 and GWR 17140 Toad van, and information on how you can secure your place on the 813 goods train specials later this month.
Do you know anyone else who’d enjoy getting a monthly update of all things SVR? If so, please encourage them to sign up for Branch Lines. It’s very easy to do, by visiting http://www.svr.co.uk/EmailSubscribe.aspx and selecting the Branch Lines tick box.
Please do get in touch by emailing email@example.com and let us know your SVR-related news and views as well. We love to hear from our readers, many of whom are geographically close to the Railway, and many who aren’t. We have avid readers from down the road and across the globe, with two things in common; they love heritage rail, and they love the Severn Valley!
Simon Turner & Lesley Carr, Co-Editors
Picture by Ian Murray
Bridgnorth Station Development. Bricklayer Jason takes pride in his work at Bridgnorth station.
Share offer success! The SVR hits its £2.5million target
Share purchases were flooding in right up until the very last minute on Tuesday 31st October, the final day on which the 2016 Share Offer was open. The question on everyone’s mind – would we make it to £2.5 million?
People queued throughout the day at the Comberton Place offices to make their last minute purchases, and staff were on hand until 9pm to meet the demand. In one four-hour period alone, the team processed more than £33,000 of sales.
And then at last, the wait was over. As the team behind the year-long fundraising project watched the totals rising by the minute, their dream finally came true. The campaign hit the magic £2.5 million mark, corks were popped and glasses raised in celebration!
This hugely busy final day was the icing on the cake for everyone involved in the project. There had been a massive surge in interest over the campaign’s final weeks, with almost three quarters of a million pounds received since the start of October, and 60,000 extra shares being purchased over half-term week alone.
Project organisers are ‘overwhelmed’ by the support for the share offer, which has been raising funds to transform visitor facilities at Bridgnorth – the biggest redevelopment project in the SVR’s history.
Long-standing volunteer and SVR board member Tony Bending said: “We are absolutely delighted and overwhelmed by the amazing response - we always knew that the £2.5million figure set at the start of the campaign was an extremely ambitious one – and we never dared hope that we would get anywhere near it, but we are truly humbled and grateful to all those who have so generously supported us and would like to say a huge thank you – we are over the moon.”
“This fundraising is the culmination of more than a decade of hard work and planning for many of the people behind the Bridgnorth Development Project, and will enable them to see their dreams for this much-loved station finally become a reality.”
As we go to press (Sunday 5 November) the total share sales stood at £2,520,300 and with a few applications still to process this amount will increase further. Added to this, the SVR Charitable Trust has raised another £60,000 for the Bridgnorth development project, and making a total of almost £2.6 million.
Meanwhile at Bridgnorth, construction work continues – the following article gives the latest on-site news.
Meanwhile on site at Bridgnorth, they’re reaching for the skies
With all the excitement surrounding the final hours of the share offer still buzzing, infrastructure manager Chris Bond also had plenty to celebrate on site. By the end of the week, the corbelling was complete, and installation was underway of timber for the wall plates on which the roof trusses will rest. One of the trusses has already been successfully trial-fitted, and it’s hoped there’ll be room for a reasonably-sized maintenance walkway in the loft space. A dividing block wall in the pitched roof is now built, and the full roof truss erection should be starting very soon.
Contractors have started work on the chimneys that will provide ventilation exhaust for the toilets and staff mess room, and window frames for the whole building are very much on the agenda, as Chris explains: “We’ve received a sample window frame from our joinery company for evaluation. It’s been manufactured from a hardwood called Idigbo. This is not only a quality product, but looks stunning and comes in at excellent value for money. Once we’ve passed this as fit for purpose, we’ll press ahead with full-scale production of all the window units.”
mfg Solicitors go for gold with the SVR
Leading West Midlands law firm mfg is now a gold member of the Charitable Trust’s Corporate Partnership Club. The club was set up to encourage businesses to engage with the Railway and brings in substantial income to fund restoration projects. The Charitable Trust’s Development Board chairman John Leftwich said:
“It’s a pleasure and an honour to have the support of such a prominent firm as mfg. They’re going to become regular visitors, taking advantage of their own chartered train with the use of a luxury heritage saloon carriage, and they’ll get to experience the thrill of riding on the footplate beside the crew firing the engine. They’ll also enjoy behind-the-scenes tours to see the Railway’s restoration experts at work, and complimentary travel and dining tickets as staff incentives.
“The fact that mfg are now officially members of our Corporate Partnership Club is a natural progression of an existing close tie with the company. Their commercial law partner Peter Copsey joined the Charitable Trust’s Board a year ago, and the company has already given us significant financial support.”
The SVR Charitable Trust has 30 companies in its Corporate Partnership Club, who benefit from a range of experiences and opportunities at the Railway, depending on their membership level. The Charitable Trust is looking to expand the membership, in a bid to secure further funding for restoration projects at the SVR, so if you know a company that could be interested, please let the Trust know! Phone Coralie Hudson on 01562 757919 or visit http://svrtrust.org.uk/corporate-partnership/corporate-partnership-club.html
mfg’s Peter Copsey and Maynard Burton are welcomed by John Leftwich and Shelagh Paterson of the Charitable Trust
Any old iron? Well, actually, any old nickel-brass?
Many people have already brought their old £1 coins to the Railway to pop into one of the Charitable Trust collection pots, but there are still millions of £1 coins out there, lurking in all sorts of forgotten places. They ceased to be legal tender in mid-October, but the Charitable Trust is still able to put them to good use.
Please check down the back of the sofa, your bedside table and under the furniture, and bring in your old £1 coins – in fact, any loose change would be more than welcome! You’ll find the maroon collection pots at shops, cafes and bars across the Railway, and there’s one at the Comberton Place office reception desk. Happy hunting!
The Toad is looking toasty
Things are definitely warming up with the restoration of GWR 17410 by the LNER Coach Group at Bewdley, now that the stove is back in place. What’s not so obvious from the photo is that inside this refurbished stove is a clever piece of SVR adaption that will keep the stove in service for years to come. Volunteer project leader Richard Gunning takes up the story: “The Toad’s original stove was cracked, distorted and corroded, thanks to heavy use and the lack of a refractory lining. However, with a generous donation we were able to commission a local engineering firm to refurbish the damper, top, base and chimney connection, adding a new body and grate along with an ash pan, chimney and roof protecting ring.
“To prevent the new stove becoming scrap as soon as a fire was lit, a refractory concrete lining to the original pattern was cast around the fire space. The crucial part of making this work was ‘curing’ it. This meant heating it to working temperature over several hours to drive out excess water, without cracking the concrete.
“Next, after a week at ambient temperature, we applied gentle heat for three days using a 100 Watt light bulb. We tentatively lit the first fire on 26 October, taking four hours to bring it up to working temperature, then left it to cool. On inspection the next morning, no cracks had appeared, and success was declared!”
Best news for anyone on a future guarding turn on the Toad – we’re told it’s possible to do a full fry up using the restored stove! Thanks to Mike Cranmore for the pictures.
If you’d like to sponsor an item for the Toad’s restoration through the SVR Charitable Trust please visit http://svrtrust.org.uk/our-projects/toad-van.html
Book quickly for the Christmas Carol services
Although two of our four Christmas Carol trains have already sold out, there’s still time to secure your place on a Christmas Carol service on either Saturday 2 or Saturday 9 December. Trains depart from Kidderminster at 7.45pm, returning at approximately 10.45pm.
The sounds of Christmas past will fill the Kidderminster concourse while you wait to board your train. There’s on-board entertainment, a stop at Arley for carols, then back on board for the journey to the Engine House, Highley.
At Highley there’s a walk of about 150 yards to the Engine House, where you can enjoy a warming glass of punch and a mince pie whilst the choir leads more singing.
You will need to get on and off the train on a number of occasions, so if you use a wheelchair or have restricted mobility, please ask for advice before booking.
Advance booking is essential for these special events. Please visit http://www.svr.co.uk/SEItem.aspx?a=57 or phone 01562 757900 to book. Tickets cost £17 for adults and seniors, and £12 for children.
A spooky success for the Ghost Trains
This year’s three dark nights of Ghost Train services enjoyed the best ever passenger numbers, with every single journey recording a complete sell out. Nine hundred passengers each night made a total of 2,700 tickets sold.
This year an extra spooky journey was added, making a total of four terrifying trips up the line to Arley each evening.
An array of grisly and terrifying characters haunted the Arley platforms, and if the witches, corpse brides and vampires didn’t chill you to the bone, the zombies, scary clowns and werewolves were hot in pursuit.
A huge amount of preparation goes into the Ghost Trains event, most notably at Arley - where more than 30 people volunteered on a nightly basis - but also at Bewdley and Kidderminster. Well done and thank you to everyone who took part and helped bring the SVR alive in such a hauntingly effective way!
Marking 813’s 50th anniversary at the SVR
With an impressive flourish, the GWR 813 Preservation Fund has announced a day of brake van rides on Saturday 25 November, and would-be passengers are urged to get in touch and secure their places as quickly as possible. The event marks exactly 50 years since 813 arrived at the SVR in 1967.
Return tickets on the 813-hauled goods train cost either £10 or £30 depending on which service is used. A valid SVR ticket or pass will also be required if you’re travelling on a service train to get to Bewdley, from where all the brake van rides commence. You don’t need to be a member of the GWR 813 Preservation Fund to travel on the goods train.
For full details of the goods train timetable, costs and how to book and pay, please visit http://www.svrlive.com/813-brake-van-rides or contact the event organiser Graham Philips on firstname.lastname@example.org or see Graham in person at the Bewdley goods shed on Saturdays.
Birthday gifts that will be lasting legacies for the Railway
Long-standing member Phil Swallow wanted just one thing for his 60th birthday – to raise money for the future of the Railway he loves so much. He asked friends and family not to buy him birthday presents, but instead to donate to the SVR Charitable Trust’s endowment Future Fund. The response has been impressive, raising a substantial amount for the endowment.
Phil has been a member of the SVR for more than 40 years and is delighted with the outcome: “A large number of people told me they’d no idea what to buy me for a 60th birthday present. However, the SVR is my passion, and I know how important the Charitable Trust’s endowment fund will be to the Railway's long-term security. Put these things together, and asking for donations made perfect sense. What I didn’t expect was the overwhelming generosity of my friends and family. It really has been awe inspiring!”
Phil believes he has a good insight into what prompted his friends’ willingness to give so readily: “I think what really appealed to people was the chance to donate to an endowment fund; this really is the gift that keeps on giving. The fact that the Charitable Trust is building up this long-term investment fund is what differentiates the SVR from most other heritage railways. It’s a game changer and a genuine investment in the future. It was also very easy to organise. It took five minutes to set up a JustGiving page and all I had to do was send a link to my friends, who very kindly did the rest."
The Charitable Trust was able to claim an extra 25% Gift Aid on most of the donations, and this helped boost the total amount. Trust Director Shelagh Paterson said: "We’re delighted at the way in which Phil has galvanised support from his friends and family to boost our endowment fund. The fund balance is now nearly £1.2 million, and it is professionally invested to generate further income. Our aim, over time, is to build up the fund to £10 million. This will generate enough income, year on year, to make a significant impact on the SVR’s future sustainability. It will help preserve locomotives, carriages, wagons and infrastructure such as bridges, viaducts and station buildings, and it will help fund the training of apprentice heritage engineers. We are very grateful to everyone who has contributed, and to Phil for this wonderful idea of ‘alternative birthday presents’!"
The SVR Charitable Trust welcomes all donations to its endowment Future Fund, and further details are at www.svrtrust.org.uk
Christmas Services 2017
Christmas is a busy time for the Severn Valley Railway!
All of our Christmas and Santa services can be booked through our website or by phone, by calling our Head Office. Booking online is easy and completely safe. Your order is sent direct to our offices at Kidderminster from where your tickets will be dispatched by post.
Our telephone booking service is also available during office hours if you'd like to speak to us:
Santa Specials, Santa Heralds, Santa Sleigh Express, Christmas Carol Trains & Christmas Dining Trains - 01562 757900
Christmas Carvery at the Engine House - 01746 862387
For Schools, Nurseries and Playgroups, our Christmas Cracker trains - 01746 862387
The stats and facts behind carriage restoration
Last month, Gresley teak carriage 24105 emerged from Kidderminster Carriage & Wagon, having undergone a process nothing short of metamorphosis under the expert hands of the SVR’s restoration team. It’s now taken its place back in service with Set N, and could be seen doing a sterling job during last week’s Ghost Train services.
Hugh McQuade, who is both the paint shop supervisor at Kidderminster C&W, and the chairman of the SVR Charitable Trust which owns this wonderful vehicle, got in touch with Branch Lines. He wanted to share a number of interesting facts about 24105, which tell a fascinating story about this carriage’s history, restoration and income-generating value to the Railway. For example, did you know:
· The recent refit of LNER wheelchair open third 24105 took 10 months and cost £20,543 in materials; £8,543 of this was contributed by the LNER Coach Group of the SVR Charitable Trust in the form of new components?
· Its restoration took 3,487 recorded man-hours at the Kidderminster paint shop, both paid and volunteer?
· And that’s not taking into account the five weeks beforehand when the LNER Coach Group volunteers stripped it out in the station?
· 24105 was in service as a passenger carriage with the LNER for 14 years, and with BR for a further nine years, making a combined passenger career of 23 years?
· After which it spent 20 years in storage as a control train telephone centre?
· Before its restoration, 24105 completed 28 years in SVR service and probably contributed £750,000 revenue in that time?
· Its current refit means it will continue for another 25 years before anything approaching a similar level of work will be required again?
Hugh, we salute you and every single member of the restoration teams for the amazing job that you’ve all done on 24105!
Vacancy to join the SVR’s carriage restoration team
Are you enthusiastic and keen to become part of a team responsible for the repair, overhaul and painting of the SVR’s railway carriage fleet? If so, the Railway would like to hear from you! There’s a role based at Bewdley that includes involvement with the wider C&W Team at Kidderminster.
It’s a paid 40 hours-a-week role, working five days in seven, including occasional weekend shifts. You’ll be working alongside a group of dedicated volunteers to produce carriage restorations to a very high standard.
Special Events 2018
We're thrilled to confirm our Special Events diary for 2018, some events and dates may be subject to change but be sure to keep an eye on www.svr.co.uk for details!
Spring Steam Gala March 16 - 18
Open House Weekend April 7 & 8
Paw Patrol Visit April 28 & 29
Spring Diesel Festival May 17 - 19
Mixed Traction Day May 20
Goods Gala June 2 & 3
Step back to the 1940s June 30 & July 1, 7, 8
Peep Behind the Scenes (TBC) July 14 & 15 (TBC)
Classic Vehicle Day July 29
Steam on the Road August 11 & 12
On the Buses September 2
Autumn Steam Gala September 20 - 23
Small Engine Weekend September 29 & 30
Christmas Gift Fayre October 21 & 22
Ghost Trains October 25 - 27 (TBC)
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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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