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October 2023

The Big One 6 October 2023. Tom McAtee.png
The Big One. An astonishing line up of eight BR diesel hydraulics in blue livery at the photoshoot on 6 October 2023. Tom McAtee

Welcome to your latest edition of Branch Lines!

In your October edition of Branch Lines, we cover the exciting new partnership, the first of its kind in the UK, which the SVR has signed with Network Rail, and which is set to bring a host of opportunities to the Railway. Last month came the news of a brand-new Winter Steam Gala in early January 2024, this month we announce a further enthusiast-focused event - an end-of-year Diesel Day during the festive season services. Plus we have reports on both the autumn Gala events. 

You can catch up on news from across the Railway, with updates on rolling stock overhauls and restoration, plus infrastructure developments, several photo charter events and the 125th birthday of ‘The Lady Armaghdale’!  

Lesley and Patrick, co-editors

The Branch Lines team is Lesley Carr, Karen Crick, Amy Baker, Pete Cherry, Nicola Fox and Patrick Hearn.

Next edition Thursday 9 November

What's new?

Railways go back to the future with landmark partnership 

A first-of-its-kind partnership between the Severn Valley Railway and Network Rail was launched on 22 September, signalling the start of an innovative relationship between the past and present railway.  

This new agreement will allow both organisations to benefit from each other using expertise, technology and facilities to help maintain and improve both networks.  

Network Rail’s Central route will offer the SVR professional skills, advice and redundant materials to help keep it safe and operational.

In return, the Railway will provide much-needed support, training and facilities to help Network Rail staff operate and maintain more-traditional railway technology – such as semaphore signalling and lever-frame signal boxes - which are still in use to keep passenger and freight trains moving across parts of Worcestershire and the West Midlands.  

Denise Wetton, Network Rail’s Central route director, said: “This exciting partnership will make a real difference to the railways of the past and present. The railway has always played a vital role in communities and economies and the support we will give the Severn Valley Railway will help it remain a key attraction for the region.  It’s a perfect partnership and I am thrilled we have been able to make it happen.”  

Gus Dunster, Severn Valley Railway’s managing director, said: “The SVR is very excited to be entering into a formal partnership with Network Rail, the first of its kind for any heritage railway.  

“Working closely with Network Rail will enable us to continue to safeguard the SVR’s infrastructure and help us to ensure our heritage line is in good shape and resilient for the future. I am very grateful to Denise Wetton and her team for their support to make this partnership happen.”  


Network Rail will also be looking at how and when it could use its state-of-the-art ultrasonic testing train on the SVR. This monitors track and infrastructure conditions as it travels around the national rail network. Access to this type of technology would be a step-change for a heritage railway such as the SVR in monitoring its assets and identifying potential faults to be fixed, helping to keep it safe and in full working order.

Click on the images for larger views, descriptions and credits.

Festive diesel date for your diary 

On Friday 29 December, the Railway will hold a special diesel day to help round-off the year, with members of the home fleet.  


It’s expected that this day's services will be diesel only, with two trains in operation, with 40106 on one and Class 46 D182 on the other, both providing steam heat. Trains would be 'top & tailed’ with other locomotives during the day. Standard fares will apply, and passengers will be able to use their free return tickets and vouchers. 


This is a brand-new event for 2023, so do please support it if you can. Further details will be announced on , but add it to your calendar!  

Train heating boiler-fitted Class 46 D182 passing Bewdley South Box on 28 September 2023 with the 10.15am from Kidderminster. Kevin Whitehurst

Train heating boiler fitted Class 46 D182 passing Bewdley South Box on 28 September 2023 w

Diesel Bash delights!

More than 3,660 fare-paying passengers visited the SVR during the four-day enthusiast-focused Autumn Diesel Bash, along with additional pass-holder visitors such as shareholders. 


These figures are a 28% increase on the previous year, generating much-needed revenue and a healthy helping of that all-important secondary spend. Managing director Gus Dunster said: 

“There was a great atmosphere around the Railway, with a timetable that ran almost perfectly to time. All-in-all, I am delighted with how well-planned and executed this event was, along with its clear commercial success. I literally lost count of the number of people who’ve personally told me how much they’d enjoyed it. Credit and thanks to everyone involved across the Railway for a fantastic job!” 

The figures for diesel enthusiast events have been very positive this year and, in what Branch Lines believes might be a first, the total figures for fare-paying passengers for the steam galas and diesel festivals are practically neck and neck! With 19 visitors more, diesel comes out on top, with a total of 10,177 people across the two events.  


 A fantastic way to round off the Railway’s celebration of 50 years of diesels in preservation. 

Click on the gallery for larger views, descriptions and credits.

Autumn Steam Gala proves a hit! 

The SVR has run yet another successful enthusiast event, following on from the two spring galas.  

At 13% above what had been budgeted for, visitor numbers reached 5,156 with secondary spend also encouraging, showing an increase of 5% on the same event last year.  

The impressive fleet of locomotives, together with the resumption of the popular and unique overnight running, and other attractions, proved a big hit for all the thousands of people who attended. 

Managing director Gus Dunster said: 

“This is an excellent result and justifies the work and cost involved in delivering major events like these. While there were some delays, our staff (volunteers and paid) worked extremely hard to find solutions throughout all four days to give our visitors the best steam railway experience that they could have. 

“The success of the event is welcome news for the Railway, and will help towards rebuilding our finances, after the drastic reduction in visitor footfall across the last two years.”  

Click on the gallery for larger views, descriptions and credits.

What's coming up?

All aboard for a half-term steam adventure 

This half-term break, families can step back in time to the golden age of travel, as the Railway operates for nine consecutive days throughout the school holiday, from Saturday 28 October through to Sunday 5 November.   

To help keep children busy, there will be an autumn-themed scavenger hunt for families to try for fun.  Trail sheets can be collected from the booking offices at Kidderminster and Bridgnorth. 


Towards the second half of the holiday week it’s Halloween, and there’s a treat in store for those who are feeling brave. A thrilling ride awaits, on board the evening Ghost and Scream Train services on 28, 30 and 31 October. 


The Halloween-themed adventure starts and ends at Kidderminster station, but beware…. It is definitely not for the faint-hearted and things do go bump in the night! 

Tickets are selling very quickly with availability now limited. 


Please note the Scream Train is suitable for 18+ only, and along with Ghost Train services, it must be booked in advance. 


Tickets and further information at  

SVR branch meetings 

At 7.30pm on Monday 16 October, the Wolverhampton branch welcomes back Robin Mathams to present 'A wee look around Scotland', an illustrated trip around its railways. The venue is the Old Wulfrunians’ Sports Club. 


Also, a reminder that at 7.30pm on Wednesday 1 November at the Bonded Warehouse, Stourbridge will be a presentation ‘Midlands Miscellany' on stills & cine by Michael Clemens.  


Poster at Arley. Chris Fallon

Poster at Arley. Chris Fallon.jpg

Christmas at the Severn Valley Railway

Spread the word to friends and family that they can celebrate the most wonderful time of the year on the Severn Valley Railway! 


The hugely popular Santa Trains will be departing Kidderminster for a live pantomime at Arley, starting from Saturday 25 November. Services run at weekends and on Friday 22 December. Passengers can experience a magical steam train journey and watch Jingle and Jangle the elves join Santa himself for plenty of festive fun! 


The Enchanted Express will be departing from Bridgnorth from Saturday 2 December. The voice of Dame Julie Walters narrates, and passengers meet Santa and a host of costumed characters on board the train, in an interactive experience inspired by the festive tale ‘Twas the Night before Christmas. 


Both experiences include a present for each child and reserved seating for the whole family. 


There is something for the adults too this festive season, including an Enchanted Afternoon Tea, or a Luxury Evening Yuletide Dining Experience for the ultimate indulgent treat.  


For those looking for an unusual gift this Christmas, the online shop has a range of items on sale including a 2024 Steam Calendar, mugs and the SVR Monopoly. 


And, the Festive Season services operate from 26 December through to 2 January, with a Winter Diesel Day taking place on 29 December (see separate article on this.)  


There’s more information on all these events and you can book tickets at or call 01562 757900.

Click on the gallery for larger views, descriptions and credits.

You’ll be spoilt for choice at the Christmas Gift Fayre

The SVR’s annual Christmas Gift Fayre will be taking place on the weekend of 28 & 29 October at The Engine House Visitor Centre, Highley. 

Over 50 suppliers will be at the fayre with a wide range of gifts and products on sale.  For those looking for an unusual gift or stocking filler, there will be lots to choose from including hand -crafted jewellery, stained glass, wooden crafts and candles.   

The Engine House will be open from 10am – 5pm each day (last entry 4.30pm) to ensure visitors can shop ’til they drop! 

Entry to the fayre is free, but because there’s no parking at The Engine House, taking the train is best, and over the weekend there’ll be  three trains in service on a busy timetable.  



SVR Company Ltd board back up to full strength

The directors of the SVR Company Ltd have voted to co-opt Neil Limbrick and Martin Creese to join the board. The board is now back up to full strength with nine directors, and has representation from two intermediate stations.  

Neil has a professional background in IT, most significantly in the education sector having worked in a number of schools, and is a member on the committee of the Narrow Gauge Railway Society as webmaster, and runs the websites for both Hampton Loade station and the Paddock Railway. Neil will joining the SVR Company Ltd staffing committee.  

Martin is a qualified accountant currently working for Jaguar Land Rover, before which he spent 10 years working at Cadbury’s in finance, procurement and operational roles. Martin is an SVR life member, small shareholder and, in more recent times, has become a volunteer at Arley. He volunteers with the Erlestoke Manor Fund, and organises photographic charters. Martin joined the communications committee earlier this year.  


The appointments will be formalised by membership vote at the AGM in July 2024.  

Left to right: Neil Limbrick and Martin Creese

Across the Railway

Partnership working boosts SVR infrastructure 

This month, head of infrastructure Chris Bond explains that the time we spend building relationships with external rail providers is proving very worthwhile for the Railway: 


Last week saw a planned week-long visit from a very modern 09 tamper* from SB Rail for training for their operators. This is a seriously advanced and expensive piece of kit that we are lucky to host; in return for possession of our track for their training, we benefit from track improvements which would be unaffordable, as it would otherwise cost a five-figure sum to hire the vehicle. It’s known as a dynamic tamper and its ‘caterpillar’ action speeds the process up. 


It started tackling a backlog of urgent tamping issues, especially in the Alveley Woods area, meaning that the ballast that has been dropped in previous months provides the bulk for the machine to carry out the necessary corrections. We’re hoping this will be the start of regular training visits by SB Rail to the SVR; indeed the initial operation went so well that the training period has been extended for another week. 


Our next visitor is a Harsco stone-blowing unit DR80207, which arrived last night (11 October). (For an explanation of stone blowing, see September’s Branch Lines). Once settled in, work will commence on setting them up for an expected 12-month training stint on the Railway. In addition to Harsco, the SVR operations team worked with our friends at Rail Adventure and the owner of the Class 20s we have on the line to transport the machine from Northampton to the SVR. This is a real coming-together of industry partnerships, from which our Railway can only benefit. 


Added to which, some very useful networking was carried out in September with a special charter train run as part of the unique SVR/Network Rail partnership agreement announced last month. This promises to be very beneficial for both parties. 

*Plasser & Theurer Unimat 09-4x4/4S Dynamic Tamper 99 70 9123 012-5 (DR 75012) - Ed. 

Click on the gallery for larger views, descriptions and credits.

S&T save costs with donated materials 

A 40-year-old rotten timber walkway has been replaced by the signal engineering (S&T) gang without spending a penny on materials!  


S&T team leader Matthew Morgan, technician Dan Salter and volunteer technician Brian Graystone recently took on the task of replacing the rotten timber walkway boards on the platform 2 up starting bracket signal at Bridgnorth, which is located at the entrance to the loco shed sidings. Keeping the walkway boards in good repair allows access to the signals for faults whilst also retaining the authenticity of the original signals. Sadly, with rotten timbers dating back to the 1970s, the poor state of the walkway boards on the Platform 2 starting signal posed a significant safety hazard and were in need of replacement.  As the Railway continues to look for savings wherever possible, the team were delighted to be able to effect this repair at zero material costs.  

Using the MEWP (Mobile Elevated Work Platform) to access the platform, the rotten timbers and rusted stays were removed, the originals having rusted to a point where the nuts could not be removed. Donated scaffold planking was cut to size and fitted to the metal framework of the bracket signal. Network Rail donated metal stays and decking bolts left over from a previous job which were then used to secure the boards to a steel frame. Brian Graystone explained more: 

“Using the MEWP made the job much easier than trying to use ladders.  It meant that two of us could work at height at the same time.  We also took the opportunity to carry out the routine cleaning and oiling maintenance of the signals whilst we were up there; that’s two for one in my book!  The following day, Matt and Dan washed the signal down to clean the smoke and dirt deposits off – what a difference! A fresh coat of paint is all that remains to complete the repair.”

Click on the gallery for larger views, descriptions and credits.

Loud and clear at Kidderminster Town! 

Visitors to Kidderminster station will receive a much clearer set of announcements, thanks to the installation of a new sound system and speakers on the concourse.  

“We have needed some new speakers on the concourse for a while,” said Geoff Smith, the station master. “I am delighted to know when passengers visit us, they will now be able to hear the announcements for train departures and arrivals clearly.” 

The speakers were paid for by the Kidderminster station fund.

Click on the gallery for larger views, descriptions and credits.

Rolling stock

The ‘Pilgrim Centurion’ brings up a magnificent century 

On 16 September 2023, the SVR-based Class 50 Alliance (C50A) and The Fifty Fund celebrated their 100th railtour. 50007 Hercules and 50049 Defiance took Pathfinder Tours’, ‘The Pilgrim Centurion’ from Swindon to Edinburgh and return. They put in a fitting performance to mark this milestone, covering more than 1,000 miles over the weekend, making light work of the Lickey, Shap and Beattock summits in the same day. A lovely touch was a congratulatory message on the digital display screens at Edinburgh Waverley station. 

It was on 11 November 1997 that classmate 50031 Hood hauled the ‘The Pilgrim Hoover’ charter train, becoming the first main-line-certified class 50 in private ownership. In the intervening 25 years, 50031 has been joined on the main line by 50007, 50044 Exeter and 50049, hauling charter trains over a wide range of routes, all locomotives being in the care of the SVR-based groups.  

Tony Middleton, C50A chair said: “I express our gratitude to all those who turned out to support the event, and to Pathfinder Tours, Riveria Trains, GBRf and Network Rail. I also thank the engineering volunteers who made this possible, both ‘team orange’ on the day, and back at our Severn Valley Railway headquarters.”  

Joe Burr, The Fifty Fund chair added: “Thank you to everyone who has supported us on these trips, sustaining the main-line use of these marvellous machines. We’re grateful for the positive comments and we're proud to have met hundreds of wonderful people in the process. 

“Both organisations are very proud of their association with the SVR and thank them too for their support in achieving this milestone. The Railway was key in returning members of our fleet to the main line.”   

Interestingly, one of the 100 railtours was on the Severn Valley Railway itself. On 8 September 2016, an A1 Steam Locomotive Trust tour ran from London Victoria to Bridgnorth with 60163 ‘Tornado’, and with 34027 ‘Taw Valley’ unavailable to take over from Bridgnorth to Bewdley it was 50049 that stepped in. 


You can find out more from the C50A and Fifty Fund including news, events, the locomotives, a members’ area, online store and more at their new website  


Click on the gallery for larger views, descriptions and credits.

Charity launches fundraiser to return the DMU to traffic 

What is set to be the very welcome return-to-service of a diesel multiple unit (DMU) has moved closer, with the hope that a two-car unit could be available as soon as next month. This follows some major overhaul work including door locks, bogies and engines. 

James Cooper, chair of the owning charity, the DMU Group (West Midlands), said: “We have a staged plan to return the other three cars into traffic soon. We’re therefore excited to announce a campaign which aims to raise £100,000 to cover all planned works to return the five-car unit to full working order, including a repaint of all the vehicles.  

“Each £10 donated can be worth up to £25 thanks to both a generous offer of matched funding from a supporter for the first £6,000, and Gift Aid which can enhance donations by 25%. If you can support the fundraising in any way, please go to .” 

First refurbished bogie for M51941 complete at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway in August

The group operates separate two- and three-car units, usually combined to form a five-car train. At a time of increased fuel costs, the five-car DMU is a vital year-round asset to the SVR. It combines high fuel economy, a passenger capacity equivalent to six mark 1 carriages, train heating, disabled access, toilets, bar facilities and gives panoramic views of the Severn Valley.  

DMUs are entirely authentic for the line, as first-generation units were used by British Railways from September 1958. Indeed, the last passenger service north of Bewdley before closure, the 8.30pm Hampton Loade to Snow Hill on 8 September 1963, was formed of a three-car diesel set.  

Between 1991 and 2018, the DMU performed regular rostered diesel turns on the Railway, evening Fish and Chip trains, Christmas Carol trains, staff trains and featured at SVR diesel galas. James added: “Since then, a dedicated small team of volunteers have continuously been at work on the units. If you wish to learn more or join our membership, please visit .”  

First refurbished bogie for M51941 complete at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway in August 2023.  Credit DMU Group (West Midlands) 

Grate work at Bridgnorth! 

From failures to fireboxes it’s been another busy month for Bridgnorth MPD as volunteer shed master Martin White reports: 


The Autumn Steam Gala has been and gone and there has already been a debrief meeting to review the event. Timetabling and time-keeping were of course discussed extensively in the debrief with considerable feedback given. The gala committee have learnt lessons which are to be incorporated into the planning and detail of future events.  

From a steam locomotive perspective, the event went reasonably well until Saturday night when visiting S160, ‘Omaha’, was declared to be a failure. The spindle sheared on one of the injector steam valves, rendering that injector inoperable. Most locos are fitted with two injectors and, as the injector is the device that puts water into the boiler, unless both are in working order the loco cannot operate on SVR, hence it was game over. Some sterling overnight work by Matt Robinson as duty officer rescheduling locomotives and diagrams etc ensured that Sunday’s timetable could just about be covered by the remaining steam fleet, filling in for ‘Omaha’. 

Meanwhile, activity in Bridgnorth loco works has continued. The Stanier Mogul, 2968, is moving ever-closer to the point in time when smoke will be coming out of the chimney and steam out of the cylinder drain cocks. I’m not about to tell you when that will be, because as written previously, she’ll be ready when she’s ready! But I am advised that those who need to know these things have a date in mind in the not-too-distant future. The list of tasks that need to be done is getting shorter each week.

Shed Note new brick arch in 2968 Photo, taken by Gary Williams at 6p.m. on Saturday when t

For example, on Saturday 7 October, a small team completed work on the fire grate rocking mechanism and, more noticeably, installed a new brick arch in the firebox. A working grate and a brick arch are two clear steps closer towards a steam test, but there won’t be smoke out of the chimney just yet as the chimney itself is one part that still awaits fitting! 

Although receiving less limelight, progress steadily continues elsewhere in the works on GWR large prairie tank 4150. The owning group volunteer team, assisting the paid-staff experts, have commenced the sizeable task of riveting the side tanks; hundreds of relatively small-diameter rivets need to be fitted. The fireman’s side tank has been tackled first in the boiler shop, with to date all of the ‘easy’ rivets done. Away from the tanks, some recent work has seen the superheater header pressure tested, and the regulator box being prepared for testing. The copper steam pipes will also be done. The materials for the steel main steam pipes are being prepared for coded welding (welding carried out by a person with the appropriate certification and competency.) 


And finally, the dragbox casting for 813 has now been returned to Bridgnorth after some remedial work by the manufacturers. More on this in the coming months.  

Photo: new brick arch in 2968.   Photo, taken by Gary Williams at 6pm on Saturday when the job was just finished.

The ‘Lady Armaghdale’ at 125 

Steam locomotive ‘The Lady Armaghdale’ recently made a rare public appearance (see September’s Branch Lines) when it was displayed at Kidderminster Town station, first during the Autumn Steam Gala, returning for a ceremony in the dock platform on 7 October to celebrate its 125th anniversary. 


Members of the owning group, the Warwickshire Industrial Locomotive Preservation Trust (WILPT) had cleaned the engine in Kidderminster carriage shed, where it’s now stored, to prepare it for its ‘moment in the sun’. 


"The birthday event for Lady Armaghdale created a lot of interest", said WILPT chair Nigel Cripps. "We used the Shrewsbury observation saloon (ex-WR inspection saloon 80972) serviced by staff from the King and Castle, which was very successful. David Cooke, secretary of the predecessor group founded in 1966, cut the cake... or more accurately what was left of it. Earlier one of our members brought his one-year-old twin daughters, and they refused to go home without some of the cake to share with their mum!" 


Both photos by Stephen Thomas. Cutting the cake is David Cooke, who was involved in the purchase of ‘Lady A’, 2047 Warwickshire and ex-WR pannier 1501.  

4566 Preservation Group roars back to life

The 4566 Preservation Group, formed in the preservation fervour of 1968, has been rejuvenated. The group officially became a charity in May and has ambitious plans for its ex-GWR light prairie locomotive 4566, which patiently nestles in The Engine House visitor centre in Highley. 


Trustee Sheena Strevens said: “A new board of trustees has been formed with current or former SVR volunteers from diverse departments bringing a wealth of experience. Three are original team members and another trio has deep ties to the successful ‘Friends of Hagley Hall’ project. Now with a presence on social media, the group are promoting both the project and the wider SVR. 


“The urgent need to support the SVR with the costs of an overhaul of 4566 has prompted the group to set an ambitious fundraising target of £500,000, and both one-off donations and regular giving can be set up at


“We kicked off with a sales stand raising more than £4,000 over the spring and autumn steam galas. The momentum will continue at the upcoming Winter Steam Gala, with a treasure trove of goodies and rare pieces for enthusiasts!” 

In an innovative twist to fundraising, a collaboration with Kidderminster's AG Recycling allows supporters to drop off scrap metal at their Finepoint Way premises and request the proceeds be paid directly into the charity's coffers. Kidderminster Town station has also jumped on board, featuring two can-recycling bins to further boost the cause. 


Sheena added: “It's not just about reliving the past; it's about preserving it too. We will focus on both the restoration of the locomotive and educating future generations, for whom free-to-print educational resources will soon to be available on the website. Get ready for a ride through time as this group starts out towards its £500,000 goal, fuelled by community support and a shared love for the railways.”

Click on the gallery for larger views, descriptions and credits.

‘Now we are four’ 

The three WLA 'thousands' together at Kidderminster during the Autumn Diesel Bash. D1062 (

After the Autumn Diesel Bash, the owners of visiting Class 52 diesel-hydraulic D1048 ‘Western Lady’ gifted the locomotive to the Western Locomotive Association, the charity based on the SVR which already owns classmates D1013 and D1062.  

Announcing the news on its website, the WLA has also said that the Railway is allowing D1048 to remain for the time being whilst the WLA carries out a full assessment. Should it prove possible to return the locomotive to working order, the WLA will consult its membership. 

With D1015 (owned by the Diesel Traction Group) also resident on the line, for the time being, four of the class can be found on the SVR.

Photo: The three WLA 'thousands' together at Kidderminster during the Autumn Diesel Bash. D1062 (left) D1013 (centre) and D1048 (on right). John Sherratt

Other news

Time running out to get free return vouchers

There’s still time to receive a free return voucher when you visit the SVR this month or early in November, if you purchase a Freedom-of-the-Line ticket. The offer ends on 5 November, and your return voucher(s) must be used by 3 January 2024.  


Remember, the Railway is open for the full nine days of the half-term holiday, from 28 October until 5 November.  

Free return voucher.jpg

O Gauge Get-Together draws the crowds 

Last weekend’s third O Gauge Get-Together drew hundreds of people to The Engine House, Highley, to see the seven layouts, seven trade stands and four displays. The event was organised by a team of SVR volunteers that included Harry Bradley, Tom Clarke, Martin Wood and Nick Willcox. 

“The star layout was ‘Newchapel’, which measures 56ft by 12ft,” said Harry. “The GWR/SR layout took around six hours to set up, and four to break down. It proved incredibly popular with visitors, who could stand and marvel at a wide variety of trains making their way round the layout.” 

Other layouts had a local feel to them, including Luton Model Railway Club’s ‘Central Works’ layout, which is largely based on the British Motor Corporation car factory at Longbridge, and Alan Searle’s ‘Burwarton’ layout, based on the station on the Cleobury branch.  
Traders included Dapol and Ellis Clark, showing off their new models and also some second-hand stock for sale. Both provided raffle prizes worth more than £750 for the annual raffle. 
The raffle raised an impressive £2000 for the SVR’s Survival Fund. Twenty-two prizes were donated by various traders, locomotive groups and the SVR itself. 

“We know that 569 people had pre-booked tickets for the weekend,” added Harry. “And many hundreds more took the opportunity to use up their free return vouchers, or bought tickets on the day. O Gauge Guild members showing their membership card were offered the SVR Member rate, and this worked well to draw in plenty of additional visitors.” 
The Bewdley O Gauge Society produced a limited edition of 50 ‘Edward Russell’ wagons. Just a few of these now remain at the attractive price of £56.95 – please contact if you’d like to buy one. 

Click on the gallery for larger views, descriptions and credits.

Three photo charters at the SVR! 

As trailed in September’s Branch Lines, the Railway has already hosted a number of photo-charter events in September and October, with a further one to take place later this month.


All of them provide a safe experience for photographers and bring welcome revenue to the Railway.


We have three galleries of wonderful photos for you to enjoy. 


The first event was organised by SVR volunteer Matt Fielding on 25 September, and saw 4930 'Hagley Hall' at the head of a goods train. Matt told Branch Lines:

“It was a fantastic day, helped with the sunny weather. It started with some fantastic light around Arley at sunrise, before heading back to Bewdley and concentrating around the station and goods-yard areas. We then proceeded to Severn Lodge, one of the best spots on the line, before finishing at Eardington. Every location was successful with the sunshine, and we had really filled our boots by the time the day finished. I’d just like to thank everyone involved in what was a successful day, operationally and safety-wise. The photographers have given me lots of positive feedback and it was good to be back doing a day for them.” 


The first of the Autumn Diesel Bash evening photo shoots was the 'BR blue takeover' on 26 September, with 'The Big One' on 6 October. 


A reminder that on Friday 20 October, 30742 Charters will present a day with British Railways Standard 4MT 75069 paired with a short set of carmine-and-cream coaches.


Tickets must be pre-booked and places are strictly limited, visit  

Click on the three galleries for larger views, descriptions and credits.

Restart a Heart at the SVR

St John Ambulance volunteers demonstrate CPR and defibrillation at the SVR.jpg

Volunteers from Kidderminster’s St John Ambulance unit will be attending the Severn Valley Railway on Sunday 15 October to raise awareness of cardiac arrests and the use of  

At both Kidderminster and Bridgnorth stations, St John Ambulance volunteers will teach members of the public how to deliver CPR and use a defibrillator. During the day, they’ll also attempt a non-stop ‘CPR-athon’ on board one of the services, travelling from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth. Brandon Keechan, the manager of St John Ambulance Kidderminster unit said:  

“We wanted to replicate the amount of time you might need to do CPR for, depending on how long it takes for an ambulance to reach the scene. It can be very strenuous, but we’ll be working in tandem and taking turns to give chest compressions.  

“By delivering first-hand care and treatment, with CPR or defibrillation, you’re essentially keeping someone alive until an ambulance arrives. Quite simply, someone’s life could depend on it.” 

The SVR event is being held in advance of the Europe-wide ‘Restart a Heart Day’ on Monday 16 October, which aims to bring awareness, education, and training to the general public in order to increase the likelihood of lives being saved in the event of a cardiac arrest.  

Classic British Motorcycle Meet

There was a fantastic turnout at a warm and sunny Hampton Loade station on Sunday 8 October for the Classic British Motorcycle Meet, with more than 45 bikes of varying ages and manufacturers on display.  


This annual informal gathering is organised by Hampton Loade Station Fund, and helps generate additional ticket and refreshment kiosk revenue.   

Classic British Motorcycle Meet on 8 October 2023. Credit Sam Lench & Hampton Loade Station Fund


Good Beer and great food at the King and Castle

CAMRA - Louis Chance and Paul Corner behind the bar of the King & Castle,

The SVR’s Kidderminster pub, the King and Castle, has earned a listing in the Good Beer Guide 2024. 

Published at the end of September by CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, this leading guide recognises the best pubs in the country, chosen by independent consumers. 


The prestigious listing has given an extra boost to the pub, which is enjoying a welcome resurgence in popularity, as manager Paul Corner explained: 


“Being in the Good Beer Guide gives us an opportunity to be highlighted to a wider range of people who are interested in high quality real ale. Like many pubs, we struggled post-Covid, but now we’re really seeing things pick up again. I’m feeling excited about the future.” 

Not just content with being featured in the Good Beer Guide, the King and Castle Pub has recently launched regular quiz nights and revamped its menu, including breakfasts, lunches, pub favourites and the addition of basket meals of scampi, chicken, and halloumi.  


Visitor experience manager Nicky Freeman cites the team’s commitment to innovation as one of the key reasons behind the pub's success:  


“Manager Paul Corner and the team are constantly looking for new ways to enhance the experience and keep customers coming back for more. In an industry that can be unforgiving, the success of the King and Castle Pub is a shining example of what can be achieved with hard work, innovation, and a focus on customer satisfaction.” 


The Valley Suite has also seen its menu revamped, and the variety and high standards have proved popular with customers.   


Photo: Louis Chance and Paul Corner behind the bar of the King & Castle, Kidderminster. CAMRA. 

Alfie’s footplate challenge rolls on

Eight-year-old Severn Valley Railway enthusiast Alfie Hewish has now ‘bagged’ 67 footplates and cabs in his quest to raise money for the railway he loves. The youngster from Telford has so far raised almost £800 for the SVR’s Survival Fund appeal. 


Alfie set himself the challenge of having his photograph taken on as many steam locomotive footplates and diesel locomotive cabs as he could, and his adventure has included attending both the Autumn Steam Gala and Diesel Bash. 


“In the summer we managed to catch Sir Nigel Gresley at Shrewsbury,” explained Louise Hewish, Alfie’s mum. “Then a holiday to Cornwall meant we could visit the narrow-gauge railway at Lappa Valley and the standard gauge Bodmin & Wenford Railway. Everywhere we’ve been, the loco crews and station staff have been so helpful and enthusiastic.” 


“Getting on the footplate of Flying Scotsman at Chester was amazing,” said Alfie. “I knew that I was standing on not just a bit of metal, but a bit of metal where Sir Nigel Gresley has probably stood on himself, and it’s one of the world’s most famous locomotives. I think I’ll keep going until I’ve reached 100 footplates!” 


The SVR Charitable Trust has confirmed it has £457,000 secured in donations so far to the Survival Fund. The appeal, launched in April this year, aims to raise £1.5 million to help the Railway meet the challenges it has faced in recent years, as a result of the Covid pandemic, the war in Ukraine, post-Brexit supply-chain issues and the cost-of-living crisis. 


“The response of the thousands of people who’ve already donated to our appeal shows how important the SVR is to so many people,” said the SVR’s managing director, Jonathan ‘Gus’ Dunster. “Their support means a great deal and we are extremely grateful for it. There’s still a way to go however, and I would like to urge anyone who hasn’t yet donated, to add their support as soon as possible.” 


To support Alfie’s footplate challenge go to or you can donate directly to the SVR’s Survival Fund at

Click on the gallery for larger views, descriptions and credits.

v1 12 October 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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