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October 2021

75069 passes Trimpley Reservoir during the Autumn Steam Gala on 19th September 2021. Jed B
75069 passes Trimpley Reservoir during the Autumn Steam Gala on 19th September 2021. Jed Bennett

Welcome to October's Branch Lines

Did you manage to get along to either of the SVR’s recent Gala events? If you did, you’ll understand why we’re feeling rather proud at the Severn Valley Railway! Our Autumn Steam and Diesel Galas went well, pulling in the crowds and showing that even when something goes wrong (which it inevitably does!) the SVR knows how to deal with it.

Some good news from the SVR Charitable Trust on the Home & Dry appeal, which has now raised sufficient funding for the first two phases of the project to go ahead. From the project delivery team, there’s equally good news; planning permission has been granted, orders are being placed for materials, and tenders prepared for the main contract.

There’s a change at the top of SVR(H) and Mike Ball takes over the chairman’s role from Nick Paul, who will remain as a director. Plus, we’ve a wide-ranging batch of restoration updates for you this month, covering carriages, wagons and locomotives, and even our very own unique Harrier Hydroshunter.

Don’t forget to book your tickets for the fright of your life at our Ghost / Scream Train events, and although we might try and pretend it’s a way to go till Christmas, it really isn’t! Fortunately, the SVR has plenty of festive events to tempt you, from Steam in Lights to our Carol Trains. There’s more info below and everything is bookable at www.svr.co.uk.

Lesley Carr & Patrick Hearn, co-editors 

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

Next edition Thursday 11th November

Contents

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A Steam Gala that satisfied

Thousands of eager steam enthusiasts joined the SVR’s Autumn Steam Gala between 16th and 19th September.  

Despite some loco withdrawals, which included guest loco 4953 ‘Pitchford Hall’ on the final day of the event, quick thinking and a rapid re-organisation of diagrams saved the day, and services were able to go ahead with minimal disruption. 

“It really is very satisfying that the SVR has pulled off this Gala so well,” said Brian Malyon, chairman of the Steam Gala Committee. “Considering how recently Covid-19 restrictions have been eased, and the fact that we only re-introduced ‘hop on, hop off’ services a couple of weeks ago, I think we’ve done this very successfully. 

“We saw a full timetable of services, which included a number of goods trains between Kidderminster and Bewdley, as well as overnight running on both the Friday and Saturday. Once again, the SVR has risen to the occasion, and it’s testament to our volunteers, who over the course of the four-day event, have put in around 600 shifts between them, carrying out roles from footplate crew to station staff and everything in between.” 

The event attracted good coverage in the heritage rail press – with a four-page article and a front cover in the latest Heritage Railway Magazine, and an eight-page feature article in the November edition of Trackside published last week. 

There are also two Gala-related films on the SVR’s YouTube channel. One showcases special guest Pitchford Hall and the other takes a full-length trip along the line with 2857. Click on the images to view these!

2021 Autumn Steam Gala
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2021 Autumn Steam Gala
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Click on the gallery for full screen images, descriptions and credits.

 

Diesel takeover for Autumn Gala

For the first time in two years the SVR was able to hold a full-scale traditional diesel gala for four days from 30th September to 3rd October. An intensive timetable was in operation and visitors were once again able to change trains, clocking up to 100 miles of travel behind their choice of locomotives.  

In addition to the SVR’s home fleet, visitors 5081 from the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Steam Railway and 31466 from the Dean Forest Railway were added to the line-up, giving a total of 12 locomotives in operation. 

Despite the wet weather, many visitors attended, enjoying the wide variety of locomotives available. There were minor hitches on the Saturday including technical problems with the Class 24 at Hampton Loade, however these issues were quickly resolved by the SVR team, allowing the rest of the event to run smoothly.  

Visitors were able to enjoy The Engine House, and the return of guided tours of Kidderminster Traction Maintenance Dept also proved very popular, with visitors keen to see behind the scenes and look at the various restoration projects currently underway. 

 

The event also marked the final turn of the SVR’s longest-standing driver Don Shadwell who bowed out in style, taking the controls of visiting Class 24 5081 on the Friday.  

 

To relive the event, head to the Severn Valley Railway’s YouTube channel to enjoy the noise and feel of diesel traction from the comfort of your home with 17 minutes of uninterrupted shots from Mike Allen.  

2021 Autumn Diesel Gala
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2021 Autumn Diesel Gala
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2021 Autumn Diesel Gala
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Click on the gallery for full screen images, descriptions and credits.

 

Special HRA award presentations

Lord Faulkners present SVR volunteer Tom Mills with his runner's up certificate. Dan Short
Members of the Class 50 Alliance receive their award from Lord Faulkner. Dan Shorthouse (c

You may remember in the May edition of Branch Lines, we were proud to announce the Heritage Railway Association Award for Diesel Locomotion 2021 going to the Class 50 Association. 

No formal presentation could take place at the time because of Covid-19 restrictions, but the group can finally celebrate as the plaque commemorating their win was presented at the Autumn Diesel Gala by Lord Richard Faulkner of Worcester, president of the HRA.

The award recognises the achievements of those involved in the preservation of heritage diesel traction and the Class 50 Association has achieved plenty in its 30-year existence. 

Jonathan Dunster, SVR (Holdings) director and chair of both the SVR diesels committee and C50A, told Branch Lines “It’s great to see diesel preservation get recognised by the HRA and we’re really proud to see the award come to a group based on the Severn Valley Railway. We just need to decide where to put the plaque!” 

It was a doubly successful day for the SVR, as 21-year-old Tom Mills received a runner’s up certificate for the first-ever Lord Faulkner Young Volunteer Award. 

Head of engineering Martin White, who nominated Tom, said: “It’s an honour to work with Tom and see how he’s developed during his time in Bridgnorth MPD, focusing on pattern making – a dying trade in Britain.

“The award is a real testament to his drive, determination and interest in learning the craft alongside the work that others have put into teaching Tom the skills he required to specialise in this industry.” 

Watch our short film about the presentation, including interviews with Lord Faulkner, Jonathan Dunster and Tom Mills.

 

Congratulations to all involved! 

Lord Faulkner presents SVR volunteer Tom Mills with his runner's up certificate. Dan Shorthouse

Members of the Class 50 Alliance receive their award from Lord Faulkner. Dan Shorthouse

 

A new chairman for Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) PLC

After a decade as chairman of the Severn Valley Railway Holdings (SVRH) board, Nick Paul CBE is stepping down, as former deputy chairman Mike Ball takes over the role. In a further change for the Railway, general manager Helen Smith has now been named managing director designate.

 

Incoming chairman Mike Ball said:

 

“Nick 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.

“The board would like to thank Nick for his leadership, hard work and the outstanding contribution he has made to the SVR’s progress over the past 10 years.”

Nick will continue as a director, a decision warmly welcomed by the board. 

Taking on the chairman’s mantle, Mike Ball brings expertise garnered through many years at a senior level in the engineering and IT services sectors. He has been a volunteer on the Severn Valley Railway for 35 years, spending 10 of those as deputy chairman of the SVRH board. 

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During this time he helped lead the company through some of its toughest challenges, including dealing with major repairs to Falling Sands Viaduct and County Boundary Slip, and more recently dealing with the pandemic. Mike has also been key in developing the SVR’s working relationships with main line train operating companies, boosting the Railway’s income through contract work.

Mike’s appointment will provide continuity moving forward, as he combines his business expertise and considerable volunteer experience within various SVR departments to meet the demands of the organisation.

Further to Mike’s appointment, a change of role for Helen Smith from general manager to managing director designate allows her to take complete responsibility for the safe operation of the railway, its financial health and future growth. As part of the SVR’s safety management system, a review and validation of this change will take place in the near future before the managing director position is confirmed.

Photos: Helen Smith, Nick Paul and Mike Ball

 

SVR (Holdings) AGM and shareholder benefits

SVRH board at 2021 AGM. Lesley Carr copy.jpg
SVRH AGM. Lesley Carr copy.jpg

The SVR (Holdings) Annual General Meeting took place on September 11th at St George’s Hall, Bewdley.

Chairman Nick Paul said that during 2020 the SVR had experienced one of the most challenging years in its history because of the coronavirus pandemic. Several months of compulsory closure and social distancing restrictions meant that during 2020 just under 60,000 people visited the Railway, a decrease of almost 180,000 from 2019. As a result, sales income was £5.25million lower than in 2019.

Several attendees expressed concerns over the way in which changes to shareholder benefits were communicated. Helen Smith, the General Manager, apologised for this. Nick Paul agreed to put a moratorium on the decision to make changes until the board had the opportunity to reflect on the feedback and had the chance to review these decisions.

Incoming chairman Mike Ball will soon be writing to all shareholders to confirm the full details of the changes as they affect each shareholder.

 

The board is looking to recruit several shareholders to help conduct a full review of the Shareholder Benefits System before the next AGM, which will take place in June 2022. If you would like to help, please contact victoria.evans@svrlive.com by 15th November, including your full name, shareholder numbers and the reasons why you would like to be included in the group.

Incoming chairman Mike Ball stated that “The SVR is indebted to all shareholders, members and donors,” Mike said. “It’s you (us) who have supported the development of the Railway from its earliest beginnings, through to the current day. Our priority is to keep focussed on the careful management of our finances, income, expenditure, and cash, as we fight to keep going in the face of unprecedented circumstances. We fully acknowledge your ongoing support, and we are extremely grateful for it.”

Photos

SVRH board at 2021 AGM. Lesley Carr

SVRH AGM. Lesley Carr

 

Looking forward to 2022

Dates for your 2022 diaries are the Spring Steam Gala on 21st to 24th April, and the Spring Diesel Festival on 19th to 22nd May. 

These are later than in recent years, as will be the start of public services for the 2022 season. These are due to start on the weekend of 2nd and 3rd April, with daily running commencing the following weekend of 9th and 10th April and continuing throughout the Easter holiday period. 

There are several reasons why the Railway is not running until April as managing director designate Helen Smith told Branch Lines

“There are two major projects that will impact on our services in 2022; Network Rail’s replacement of the Kidderminster footbridge (see September’s Branch Lines) and the Bridgnorth Loco Works project (see separate article.) 

1501 passes Northwood Halt during the Autumn Steam Gala on 19th September 2021. Jed Bennet

“The footbridge replacement will be disruptive to Kidderminster Carriage and Wagon, who are tackling the backlog of work that Covid-19 caused with disruptions to our carriage sets in 2020 and 2021.

“Perhaps the most important reason though is that a later-than-usual start allows Bridgnorth MPD to finish off as much ongoing work as possible. Martin White and his team will need to be in the position to move everything - locos, components, tools, workbenches, lathes, etc - out of the loco shed so that it's ready for the phase 1 work to commence on the roof and crane project, starting in the spring.

“By not running public services in February/March, the burden on both MPD and C&W will be considerably eased.

“We understand that some people will be disappointed with the later start. It’s not a decision we’ve taken lightly and we hope they will see the necessity of this action, which is supported by the Holdings and Guarantee boards and the heads of departments. 

Dates for your 2022 diaries are the Spring Steam Gala on 21st to 24th April, and the Spring Diesel Festival on 19th to 22nd May. 

These are later than in recent years, as will be the start of public services for the 2022 season. These are due to start on the weekend of 2nd and 3rd April, with daily running commencing the following weekend of 9th and 10th April and continuing throughout the Easter holiday period. 

There are several reasons why the Railway is not running until April as managing director designate Helen Smith told Branch Lines:

“There are two major projects that will impact on our services in 2022; Network Rail’s replacement of the Kidderminster footbridge (see September’s Branch Lines) and the Bridgnorth Loco Works project (see separate article.) 

Photos: two locomotives that will reach the end of their boiler 'ticket' during 2022.

1501 passes Northwood Halt during the Autumn Steam Gala on 19th September 2021.

2857 crosses Falling Sands Viaduct during the Autumn Steam Gala on 18th September 2021. Both by Jed Bennett

2857 crosses Falling Sands Viaduct during the Autumn Steam Gala on 18th September 2021. Je
 

Some TLC for 26921

Following completion of wheelchair access coach 4399, Bridgnorth-based Carriage & Wagon volunteers refused to rest on their laurels, and set about restoring LMS-style BR Brake Third Corridor 26921, which was built in 1950. 26921 has not run on the SVR since the mid-80s and after years of open storage at Kidderminster yard, was in need of thorough refurbishment. A sizeable task, but with 45 years of experience of working on LMS and BR coaches the team were undaunted.

The external steel panels were all renewed back in 1979, but not fully welded together; consequently, all seams are being ground out and seam-welded. At the north end, where the passenger compartments are, the coach end and gangway tunnel have been rebuilt, and heavy corrosion around the doorways is being dealt with by renewal of steel pillars.

Three decades of open storage and leaky windows also mean that the coach requires a new floor throughout, as the corrugated iron subfloor has corroded. A new steel tray has been installed in the lavatory and is ready for terrazzo specialists to create the marble-chip surface.

The aluminium sliding window units are being rebuilt because of corroded backing plates and the drainage system is also being renovated to make it more effective. Carriage and Wagon’s Hugh McQuade said:

“It is sobering to remember that 26921 travelled by rail with some of our steam engines to Rainhill between Liverpool and Manchester in 1980 to take part in the celebrations of the opening of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, but within five years was abandoned with no plans for further work after all the expenditure in 1979.”

During 2021, progress has been steady, and it’s hoped to reach the halfway stage of the floor and bodyside work early in 2022. Work can then begin on the second stage of this project, rebuilding the luggage area into a wheelchair, lavatory and open saloon format.

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Photos:

26921 exterior photo

LMS 26921 showing a section of floor removed for cleaning and painting with the vacuum cylinder exposed. Ronan O'Brien

LMS 26921 showing new toilet floor pan. Ronan O'Brien

 

Livery unveiled for Harrier Hydroshunter

The project to create the UK’s first-ever hydrogen-powered shunter is making good progress at the SVR’s Diesel Depot in Kidderminster. The team of young volunteers tasked with preparing the donor vehicle have now removed most of the unwanted components, including the diesel engine. Recently they completed testing the traction motors, which were found to be in good order. 

The SVR’s YouTube film shows some of the work taking place, and includes a visit to the University of Birmingham, where Vanguard Sustainable Transport Solutions are working on the design and technical aspects of the project. They’re designing the hydrogen power pack, along with the electronics plan, and modelling future hydrogen usage, based on data from the 08’s use under diesel power. 

Plus there’s a sneak preview of the unique livery that’s been designed for the vehicle. It’s shown with a holding number of H0801 (a nod back to British Railways’ practice of numbering diesels with a D prefix and electrics with an E), and a final decision will be taken on numbering in due course. 

The project has been nominated for the environment and sustainability category in the Railway Innovation Awards which take place in London tomorrow, 15th October.

Hydroshunter Livery.jpeg
 

The biggest Christmas yet on the Severn Valley Railway

The most wonderful time of the year at the SVR is kicked off by Steam in Lights on the 19th November with the brightest Christmas event in the West Midlands.

 

Now in its third year, the event continues to grow year-on-year, with 2021 promising double the amount of lineside displays, more cacklers to find, a bolder entrance sequence and a brand new pre-departure show featuring Grandma and Grandson Cackler! 

Safe to say, it’s going to be the boldest, brightest and merriest Steam in Lights yet! Tickets for this event are selling quickly, so don’t miss out! Book now at svr.co.uk 

Also departing from Bridgnorth is The Enchanted Express, which is proving very popular. This brand new event focuses on the story of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, and will be narrated by star of stage and screen Dame Julie Walters. 

Children will meet the characters from the classic tale, whilst steaming between Bridgnorth and Highley before meeting Santa himself to receive wrapped presents.

Adults will receive a complimentary collectible travel mug, hot drink and sweet treats. Book for this event at svr.co.uk

 

Christmas wouldn’t be complete without Santa Trains and these are already selling superbly well, with people from across the Midlands snapping up tickets for the event earlier than ever this year.

The event will start in Kidderminster before steaming to Arley to see a festive stage show - Jingle, Jangle & the North Pole Lake -before heading back aboard the train to receive gifts, magically left in each compartment by Saint Nick.

You’ll have to move quicker than Rudolph himself to get tickets though. Book for this event at svr.co.uk.

 

Are you feeling brave?

Leaves are turning, and you don’t want to leave home without your coat – it’s definitely October! For the Severn Valley Railway, that only means one thing; Halloween is just around the corner. 

 

Across the Railway, teams are working hard to put on family-friendly Ghost Trains and spooktacular 18+ Scream Trains, with the latter only five spaces away from selling out (at time of writing!) Colourful lights are already glowing at Bewdley, whilst Arley will very soon be dressed in its customary scary style.

Only for the brave, the three days of Halloween prove a popular period for the Railway with families in search of frights boarding the train at Kidderminster before seeing the incredible Bewdley display and frightening characters aboard the train. When the train arrives at Arley, ghosts and ghouls will descend on the platform for a scary show before heading back to Kidderminster. 

If you’ve got nerves of steel and aren’t frightened of things that go ‘bump in the night’, tickets are available from svr.co.uk.

One of the spooky characters at Arley in 2020. Ken Witherow

One of the spooky characters at Arley. Ken Witherow Copy.jpg
 

Taking stock and looking forward at Bridgnorth MPD

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Now is the time to take stock, and there are promising prospects for an entertaining 2022, as Bridgnorth shed master Martin White writes: 

The summer season mid-week running is over, and the Autumn Steam Gala has taken place; now is the time of year to pause and review our fleet before the next major burst of operational activity in November and December.

Available for operational use (although subject to the usual cycles of boiler washouts and exams etc) are: 1501, 7714, 43106, 75069 and 34027 (Taw Valley). Visiting pannier tank 9466 is also operational, with its last currently-scheduled working days on October 16th and 17th. 

813 suffered from leaking boiler tubes during the Autumn Gala and sadly had to be withdrawn on the Friday of that event. The loco is currently having its tubes removed within the Bridgnorth works, and replacements have been ordered, which were fortunately available at short notice. 2857 is undergoing a scheduled valve & piston exam. This will require a re-bore of the valve chests and new valve heads, along with some other repairs to rod bushes etc. 

Overhauls of several locomotives are ongoing: 

42968’s rolling chassis is in the works and continues to have more parts fitted on a regular basis by both paid staff and Stanier Mogul Fund volunteers. The boiler has recently been turned over in the boiler shop to allow further work. The boiler tubes are all on site at Bridgnorth, ready to be fitted. 

4930 Hagley Hall had its 10-year date reset by the boiler inspector on 28th September and is now being moved into the boiler shop for a test fitting of the ash pan, and trial of the boiler into the locomotive frames. The lagging and cladding can then be fitted prior to final installation into the frames, the boiler cladding sheets having already been repaired or renewed. The now-complete tender is in the paint shop at Bridgnorth, where a combined team of paid staff and volunteers have begun preparation of the surfaces and application of the final paint finish.

 4150 remains on the lifting jacks in the works where some frame-riveting work is imminent. Specialist welding on the boiler barrel has been taking place. 

Away from the SVR, at Tyseley loco works, the boiler for 7812 ‘Erlestoke Manor’ passed its hydraulic test on 28th September and is now being readied for a steam test. Reassembly of the loco continues, with recent attention focused on refitting the drain cocks mechanism and cladding around the cylinder block. The repainting of the loco frames needs to be completed before refitting the boiler, and the boiler cladding is being prepared ready for when the boiler has been steam-tested. 

Finally, it was ‘au revoir Ratbag’, as 6960 Raveningham Hall left the SVR headed for its new home in Margate. To learn more about the intricacies involved in getting a weighty locomotive onto a low loader, see our film on the SVR’s YouTube channel. 

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

 

The Bridgnorth roof and crane project is under starter’s orders

The Bridgnorth Loco Works project has taken significant steps forward with planning permission now granted, orders placed for materials and contracts being awarded. There’s still a way to go to fund the remaining phase so that the Railway doesn’t end up with crane bases but no crane! The Charitable Trust’s executive director Shelagh Paterson tells Branch Lines more:

The SVR Charitable Trust is delighted to announce that the Home & Dry appeal has reached £417,000, with over £50,000 raised in the last month. The goal remains to raise £475,000 to fund all planned works.

There are now sufficient funds to progress the works to Phase 2, re-cladding the building and installing bases for the crane. The Railway has ordered the cladding because there’s currently a six-month lead time, and this had become urgent to ensure delivery for the proposed start date of early May 2022.

Orders have also been placed for the electrical contract as there are pre-contract electrical works that need to be undertaken.

The project delivery team are currently preparing tenders for the main contract - the civils works to the bases and levelling the floor to road 2. The orders for this work will be placed in the New Year. 

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Loco 4930 Hagley Hall
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We are so grateful that the generosity of our donors, members and shareholders has raised sufficient funds to enable phases 1 and 2 to go ahead.

 

Phase 3 will be the installation of the crane. Promising negotiations for a second-hand crane are underway. The cost of steelwork is still rising and the team are anxious to get the crane reserved as soon as possible, but this phase will be dependent on raising further funds.

If you have yet to donate, please do help at svrtrust.org.uk. Remember, a donation of £75 or more will buy a steel purlin for the new roof, and will also secure the donor a limited edition Alan Reade print of Bridgnorth Locomotive Works.

If you’ve already made a donation but can spare a few extra pounds to help the project to achieve its goal, please visit our JustGiving page.

Going forward, the project delivery team will also be asking for volunteer assistance. They’re putting together a detailed programme of works and determining what help will be needed to undertake various tasks both before and during the contract works. Look out for more details in future updates!

Click on the gallery for full screen images, descriptions and credits.

 

Shark repairs going swimmingly

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As mentioned elsewhere in Branch Lines, volunteers at Bridgnorth are currently refurbishing BR Brake Third 26921. In addition to working on this passenger vehicle, the Carriage & Wagon volunteers are living up to their full title by simultaneously overhauling a wagon; it’s a rare occurrence to see two such restorations side-by-side at Bridgnorth! 

Built in 1957 by British Railways, ballast plough brake van DB 993898 is more commonly known by its telegraph code-name ‘SHARK’. The Shark van was purchased in 1990 by permanent way volunteers Les Johnson and John Hancock, at the request of the then-p-way supervisor Gerry Carter. At the time, it was an incomplete vehicle; axle bearings and two entire ploughs had to be sourced, the ploughs being bought from Duddesdon Wagons shops in Birmingham for £4.40 + VAT each by C&W volunteer Hugh McQuade. 

After many years of use by the p-way department as a ballast plough and general brake van, the Shark was in a sorry state. Wagons are often overlooked in the face of more glamorous vehicles, yet they provide a vital service; without many of them, engineering functions that keep the Railway going would not be possible. However, thanks to the efforts of Bridgnorth volunteers on behalf of the Shark van’s current owners, the SVR Charitable Trust, 993898 is once more being returned to operational condition.

Work began in 2019, and so far has entailed dismantling the entire north end balcony framework and floor, which will be renewed with new high quality timber.

Carriage & Wagon’s Hugh McQuade said:

“Delays caused by lockdowns and subsequent restrictions on volunteer numbers have slowed this work. However, with volunteers now returning in greater numbers, the north end is going together nicely, and work to dismantle the south balcony will start shortly. Work will continue, pandemic permitting, into 2022 and we hope that on completion our Shark will become a visitor-accessible exhibit until such time as it’s needed on track relaying work.” 

To support this work, some woodworking machinery has been acquired, and one Mitre Saw has proved to be surplus to requirements. See Skills Surplus and Requirements for further details.

Click on the gallery for full screen images, descriptions and credits.

 

Bewdley South Signal Bracket – target achieved!

The SVR is very fortunate to possess two wonderful wooden bracket signals, sited near Bewdley South Signal Box. The SVR Charitable Trust’s executive director Shelagh Paterson has some important news: 

We’re delighted to announce that the CT’s fundraising target of £5,000 has been achieved, ensuring the Bewdley South Bracket Signal can be replaced and lovingly returned to its former glory!

 

The old signal, which was taken down in 2020 (see Branch Lines October 2020), had deteriorated to the extent that some of it disintegrated when it was moved. The new post, made of African hardwood, has already been delivered to Kidderminster, and marked up and drilled ready for the main metal bracket-work. The brackets will be shot-blasted, and the signal will be delivered to Bewdley by early December and painted, with re-erection planned in early spring next year.

 

The main post and the two smaller dolls badly needed replacing and now, thanks to our supporters, the funds are available to undertake this necessary work. A massive thank you to all who donated – many of whom we are signalling volunteers - your support is very much appreciated! 

Photos: As it’s Gala season, it gives us the opportunity to show locos from previous galas past under the signals. Click on the gallery for full screen images, descriptions and credits.

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'O' what a lovely show!

As reported in the last month’s Branch Lines, after the main O Gauge Guild model railway event was cancelled for a second year running, a group of model railway enthusiasts led by Nick Wilcox, Martin Wood, Tom Clarke and Harry Bradley came together to put on their own event at The Engine House in Highley.

In addition to a visit from BBC Radio Shropshire, the SVR’s own Dan Shorthouse was also on hand to document the day, capturing footage of these impressive layouts and some behind-the-scenes interviews. Click on the image to see this short video on the SVR’s YouTube channel. 

 

It’s ‘business as usual’ with another rail tour

On 6th October, Saphos Trains ran their 'Great Western Envoy' rail tour from Bridgnorth to Bristol Temple Meads station. The SVR was contracted to supply access to the Railway for overnight stabling and servicing of both carriages and the celebrity locomotive for the train, ex-LMS locomotive 46100 'Royal Scot'. 

 

The empty coaching stock (ECS) arrived from train operator Locomotive Services Ltd’s Crewe depot late morning the previous day, to ensure the necessary 12 hours’ rest for operational staff ahead of the charter. The ECS was hauled from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth by a Class 47 diesel, supplied by LSL.

On the morning of the 6th, all operational staff were up with the lark and on duty at Bridgnorth by 4.15am, making the station an unusually early hive of activity. The Class 47 provided heat to the train, then 46100 moved around the MPD in clouds of steam to join the head of the train with its support coach.

46100 leaving Kidderminster just before dawn on 6th October 2021 with Saphos railtour. Kei

Meanwhile on the platform, station master Chris Thomas welcomed the 70+ passengers boarding the train at Bridgnorth. The train departed at 5.25am for the run to Kidderminster, with driver Peter Lea in charge for a smooth run to Kidderminster, arriving spot on time in the Loop at Kidderminster at 06.30.

During the crew change time, an extra water stop was made to top the locomotive up before leaving SVR metals. Unfortunately, owing to reduced pressure caused by a burst water main on Comberton Hill, the water stop took longer than intended resulting in a departure 10 minutes later than planned. Bill Griffiths accompanied the train as operations representative to Bristol and back. On the return to the SVR, the train arrived around 15 minutes late, but with no further water stop needed, the train was soon underway back to Bridgnorth, where the remaining passengers departed in good spirits.

The following day, the SVR’s operational staff returned, and the train was worked ECS to Kidderminster. On arrival, 46100 was turned, departing punctually, just after 3pm to Crewe.

With several rail tours under the SVR’s belt for the 2021 season, these events are becoming ‘business as usual’, according to operations manager Matt Robinson: 

“This was another successful contract job, showing the Railway at its best and bringing in much-needed revenue for the SVR. The train has gone down well, and we have already been approached for a repeat (albeit with a different destination) next spring.”

46100 leaving Kidderminster just before dawn on 6th October 2021 with Saphos' railtour. Keith Wilkinson

 

Job opportunities

Railwayman's Arms.jpg

The SVR is inviting applications for several casual contract catering assistants in a variety of locations.

See the latest job opportunities, with employment information and application closure dates, at https://www.svr.co.uk/Employment.aspx.

 

Please also publicise these vacancies to friends and families.

 

Celebrating 6045’s triumphant return

On Sunday 17th October at 10:45 a special train will run to officially launch Great Western Coach 6045. After a short ceremony on the platform, 1501 will depart Kidderminster Station hauling the Great Western set, now with the addition of 6045, and many special guest passengers who’ve been involved in its return to traffic.

 

6045 was saved nearly 50 years ago by Robert Smallman, who paid £200 for the Collett bow-ended corridor composite. 6045 is now owned by the Great Western (SVR) Association who have painstakingly rebuilt the coach.

 

Based at Bewdley, the GW (SVR) Association is a charity that began life more than 50 years ago, dedicated to providing GWR locomotives and coaches for use on the SVR. The Association’s current aim is to have two operational sets of GWR passenger rolling stock to help recreate the authentic atmosphere of golden age of the Great Western Railway.

6045 is a typical GWR vehicle from the 1920s; the four first class compartments are trimmed in walnut and the three third class in mahogany. These coaches have distinctive bow ends, built to minimise the gap between vehicles when connecting the corridors together. Over 800 of the type were built and they were used initially on expresses and later on semi-fast cross-country services, including the Birmingham to Cardiff trains, which passed through Kidderminster. Chairman of the GW (SVR) Association Mick Haynes said: 

 

“The train on Sunday 17th October will celebrate the return of 6045 to traffic in the presence of members of the Association and in particular Robert Smallman who first purchased 6045 in 1972. Passengers travelling in 6045 can enjoy the feeling of luxury with panelling picked out in gold leaf and photographs of the Great Western in Edwardian times. 6045 was built in May 1928 and is turned out in the livery it carried in 1930. Both the interior and exterior have been made as authentic as possible and we are very proud of the end result.” 

GW 6045 alongside the platform at Kidderminster. Richard Herington.JPG
6045's first class compartment. David A Smith Copy.jpg
The mahogany-trimmed third class corridor on 6045. David A Smith Copy.jpg

The Association is now working on a similar carriage from 1926 and – with each restoration costing around £150,000 - welcomes any help or donations to meet its objectives. See their website at http://www.gw-svr-a.org.uk/ 

Photos:

GW 6045 alongside the platform at Kidderminster. Richard Herington

6045's first class compartment. David A Smith

The mahogany-trimmed third class corridor on 6045. David A Smith

 

Lest we forget…

43106 runs past field of poppies at the new nature reserve at Dropping Well Farm, between

On Sunday 14th November, Kidderminster Town Station will be holding its yearly remembrance service, and you are warmly invited to attend.

The service will begin at 10:45pm, there will be a ceremony of hymns and prayers on the concourse.

 

The service will pause for the customary two-minute silence at 11:00am.

Photo: 43106 runs past field of poppies at the new nature reserve at Dropping Well Farm, between Kidderminster and Bewdley on 21st June 2021. John Sherratt

 

Severn Valley Railway Guarantee Company AGM

The 53rd Annual General Meeting of the Severn Valley Railway Company Limited will be held on Saturday 23rd October 2021 at 5.00pm, at Kidderminster Railway Museum. The paperwork was forwarded with SVR News 215, the autumn 2021 issue. Entry to the meeting is by production of a valid membership card. Should you have any queries please email membership@svrlive.com.

The SVR Company Limited is also known as the ‘Guarantee’ company and, supported by the SVR membership, it provides the volunteer work force that assists in the operation of the Railway, along with significant financial support.

 

It also publishes the quarterly SVR News magazine. If you are not a member, please consider joining.

More details are available at https://www.svr.co.uk/Become-A-Member.aspx

SVRG logo.JPG
 

Access for all at Bewdley

Bewdley station disabled access to platforms 2 & 3 plan September 2021. SVR Charitable Tru
New path through Bewdley Down Yard giving wheelchair access to platforms 2 and 3, 14th Sep
Bewdley footpath progress 13th September 2021. SVR Charitable Trust.JPG

The SVR Charitable Trust has already contributed over £7,000 to fund a project at Bewdley to improve access to the station for passengers with limited mobility. The Trust’s executive director, Shelagh Paterson, told Branch Lines more. 

 

The main passenger access to island platforms 2 and 3 is via a footbridge, but the only access route for those with restricted mobility is via a barrow crossing at the opposite end of the platform, accessed through the goods yard.

 

The yard has an ash/aggregate surface which does not drain well and has suffered from degradation, creating an uneven surface with potholes and puddles. The water tower at the top of the island platform ramp creates a narrow and wet obstacle. 

Initial works on site began on 6th September with the laying of a new reinforced concrete path between the gates protecting the rail crossing and the yard gates adjoining the car park. The path was in use for the steam gala. 

There is more to do. There will be a branch laid off the path to the existing disabled toilets, the obtrusive water tower will be removed, improvements made to the crossing itself and appropriate signage will be undertaken. Work is due to be completed early in 2022.

The water tower is not an original historic feature, being recovered from Stow Heath yard, Bilston in 1969 and installed by 1974 for the extension of services to Bewdley. With treated water available at Bridgnorth and Kidderminster, it’s no longer essential to operations and, ultimately, it will be relocated to Highley station. 

The works are being funded primarily through Charitable Trust’s unrestricted reserves, together with grants totalling £4,000 from the GJW Turner Trust and the Saintbury Trust. 

 

Photos: 

Bewdley station disabled access to platforms 2 & 3 plan September 2021. SVR Charitable Trust 

Bewdley footpath progress 13th September 2021. SVR Charitable Trust 

New path through Bewdley Down Yard giving wheelchair access to platforms 2 and 3, 14th September 2021. Bob Pockney 

 

A link to the past as the boilershop gets a VIP guest! 

Last month, a small private group was given a conducted tour around the boiler shop at Bridgnorth. But this was no ordinary tour by a group of enthusiasts or engineers; the group contained a special visitor with a particularly strong connection to the SVR boiler repair workshop. 

The workshop is officially named the ‘George William Knight Boiler Repair Shop’ and the visitor was Barbara (known as Babs), daughter of George Knight, accompanied by her husband Stu and close friend Roger. 

George was deputy chief boiler inspector of British Railways London Midland Region based in Derby, and retired in 1980 after 51 years of railway service. When SVR staff were first coming to terms with conducting major boiler repairs, at that time carried out in the open air at Bridgnorth, George regularly gave up his time and travelled to Bridgnorth to train the SVR’s earliest paid staff. George willingly and freely passed on his skills, knowledge, and experience, helping to develop the skill base that underpins steam on the SVR today. George’s influence was far-reaching, as these skills have been passed on to new generations, not just on the SVR, but in the wider heritage rail movement. 

Sadly, George passed away before the boiler shop at Bridgnorth was completed. The boiler repair shop was duly named in his honour, with Babs and her mother attending the official opening conducted by HRH The Duke of Gloucester, in October 1990. 

Graham Beddow, one-time head boiler smith at the SVR and still a resident of Bridgnorth, was pleased to be able to accompany Babs on her visit, recalling tales and anecdotes of his time learning from George. Graham recalled an observation by George that he was teaching and showing people how to repair boilers, but that by the time that Graham retired, preserved railway boiler smiths would be constructing new ones. As the recently retired Graham stood alongside work taking place on the new boiler being assembled for 82045, it was clear that George’s prediction had become absolutely accurate! 

Babs was immensely gratified to see that the plaque carrying her father’s name remains on clear display in the SVR boiler shop. Bridgnorth shed master Martin White who led the tour said: 

Barbara (Babs), daughter of George Knight, visiting Bridgnorth boiler shop on 9th Septembe
George Knight, at work in BR London Midland Region headquarters, Nelson Street, Derby.jpg

Her thoughts were that her father would have been proud, justifiably so, to have contributed to the continuation of steam locomotive boiler repair and operation on the SVR. Furthermore, he would have been delighted to see young trainees continuing to learn and use the skills that had been handed down through the generations.” 

Photos:

Barbara (Babs), daughter of George Knight, visiting Bridgnorth boiler shop on 9th September 2021

George Knight, at work in BR London Midland Region headquarters, Nelson Street, Derby

 

Bonjour, lights, camera, action at The Engine House

Jim Seaton
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David McIntosh
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Michael Howard
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A trio of Severn Valley Railway volunteers got their big moment on the silver screen with a film crew who’d travelled from Paris – but this project was far from a Brigitte Bardot romance.

Train crew manager Jim Seaton, David McIntosh from the Stanier 8F Locomotive Society and Michael Howard from the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust will all feature in a Planete+ documentary series about the impact railways had on efforts during World War Two – with an episode on the evacuation of Dunkirk, Stalingrad and the Battle of Britain.

The Engine House was selected to feature in a starring role, as the current home of two locomotives, LMR 600 Gordon and LMS Stanier 8F 48773, along with the Royal Coach, all of which have ties to WW2. 

Jim expertly toured the crew around the Royal Coach who were amazed to discover the vintage ice-powered air conditioning system. Michael Howard gave a fantastic account of Gordon and the reason it was built with its unusual 2-10-0 wheel formation, whilst David McIntosh was tasked with a tour of Hinton Manor’s footplate before talking about 48773’s involvement during the war efforts.

As a result of the filming, the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust received a donation as a thanks for the team’s efforts.

Click on the gallery for full screen images, descriptions and credits.

 

V1 14th October 2021

V2 20th October 2021 (minor emend to Diesel Gala article)

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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.