During our Autumn Steam Gala - Bluebell approaches Arley with a local on the 24/9/17, picture by Ian Murray
Welcome to your latest edition of Branch Lines!
You’ve heard it before, but you won’t be hearing it for much longer – time is running out for the Bridgnorth Share Offer! We’ve just entered the last month in which you can buy shares, so don’t wait any longer to add your support to this ambitious project, and enjoy the travel perks you’ll get when you buy!
We know that a number of Branch Lines readers are based abroad and may be ineligible to buy shares because of their location. However, you can still support the Bridgnorth Project by making a donation to the SVR Charitable Trust, and this can be ring fenced for Bridgnorth. Download a form at http://svrtrust.org.uk/download/get/bridgnorth-donation-form-jp/107.html
The clock might be counting down for the Share Offer, but as we report in this edition of Branch Lines, there has been a recent surge in sales and interest, sparked by the recent Autumn Gala. What’s more, the SVR is in the limelight again, scooping yet another prestigious award, and the SVR Charitable Trust has been busy with DRP Productions, a film company that’s creating a series of short films promoting the Trust’s fundraising work on behalf of the Railway. The October edition wouldn’t be complete without an account of the Autumn Gala, and we bring you updates on various projects around the Railway.
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Simon Turner & Lesley Carr, Co-Editors
Picture by Ian Murray
Surge for Bridgnorth share offer as campaign enters final month
With less than one month to go until the Bridgnorth Share Offer must close, there has been a surge in applications, and share sales have jumped by nearly £200,000 in the last month. The total is now just short of £1.7 million.
Boosted by the Autumn Steam Gala and an intensive advertising and email campaign, the rate of initial daily web enquiries has nearly doubled during the month of September and more than 3,700 people have now expressed an interest in buying shares.
As expected, conversion rates are also rapidly increasing, with around a quarter of all those expressing an interest now having bought shares as the deadline of 31st October approaches. This represents a rise of 20 per cent in one month.
The campaign team is now focussed on further increasing this conversion rate, and the team at Nevilles processed more than £35,000 of sales in the days running up to the Gala. Sales are expected to spike in the period following the showcase event, at which visitors committed to a further £10,000 of sales and interest in the share offer was high.
On behalf of the campaign team, Tony Bending said:
“‘We are encouraged by the recent rise in interest and sales but would urge those not yet committed to give it some serious thought soon, as no further applications can be accepted after 31st October.
“For existing shareholders who haven’t yet purchased in this offer the process is particularly simple. Just make a quick call to Nevilles on 0121 585 1131. They can process a credit or debit card payment over the phone.”
Find more information and download an application form at http://www.svr.co.uk/ShareOffer1.aspx
The Railway gains another award
More proof that the SVR is doing all the right things came recently with the announcement that we have won the title of ‘Best Visitor Attraction’ in the Visit Worcestershire Awards for Excellence 2017.
It’s a fantastic accolade for everyone at the Railway and very well deserved. Awards like this help raise the SVR’s profile to a wider audience, and hopefully to attract even more visitors in the future. What’s more, it means that, as a regional winner, the Railway is eligible to enter the Visit England Awards that will take place in London next spring. Fingers crossed!
Photo shows volunteers Steve Jones and Martin Mackenzie with the Visit Worcestershire Award.
And it was smiles all round at Arley
It was a proud moment recently at Arley as volunteers gathered for a plaque unveiling. Pictured are station master Ian Latimer and his staff with the plaque that commemorates the Stagecoach Volunteers Award. The Railway received this as part of the 2016 National Railway Heritage Awards for the restoration of Arley station.
Packed platforms and a boost for share sales at the Autumn Gala
We certainly rounded off our steam events season in style, as thousands of visitors packed the platforms for the Autumn Steam Gala. Saturday proved the most popular day, attracting more than 2,000 visitors with an intensive timetable of visiting locomotives in action alongside members of the home fleet.
With just over one month to go until the Bridgnorth Development Project share offer campaign closes, project teams took to the platforms and are delighted to report that more than £10,000 of shares were sold during the Gala. The figure brings the SVR ever closer to its £2.5 million target to transform Bridgnorth Station. (Please see our separate article on the Share Offer progress.)
As the packed Gala schedule rolled out, a particular favourite proved to be No 926 Repton, Southern Railway ‘Schools’ class, appearing thanks to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, and consistently drawing the crowds, hauling full to standing carriages throughout the event.
No 2 Prince was already a familiar face at the Railway, having spent a stint on display in The Engine House Visitor Centre in 2011. It made a popular return to fly the narrow-gauge flag, with passengers enjoying rides on this unusual and memorable engine throughout the event.
Rounding off the visiting quartet; No 564 Great Eastern Railway ‘Y14’, courtesy of the M&GN Joint Railway Society & North Norfolk Railway, the only one of the 289 of its class built to survive into preservation, and No 323 Bluebell appearing thanks to Bluebell Railway Plc.
There were plenty of crowd-pleasers from the SVR fleet, and visitors got their cameras out to capture the final Gala appearance of No 7812 Erlestoke Manor before its overhaul, and No 34053 Sir Keith Park before it leaves for the Swanage Railway at the end of the year.
We brought back our famed all-night running by popular demand on the Friday and Saturday nights, and brake van rides, autotrains and shunting demonstrations all drew the crowds.
Clare Gibbard, marketing and communications manager, said:
“Though we think final numbers may be slightly down on 2015, especially on Sunday when a major cycling event took place in Kidderminster, restricting road access – from the busy platforms, packed trains and great feedback, I think it is fair to say that this year’s Autumn Gala was a really successful event.”
Pictures by: Lewis Maddox & Ian Murray
A capital Bus Gala at Bewdley
Assistant station master Dai Phillips reports on the recent Bus Gala:
“Another successful Bus Gala took place at Bewdley on 10th September, this time with a London Transport theme. There were several Routemasters, a Boris bus and London Transport’s 1914 Leyland charabanc. As well as the buses on static display, several others gave rides, either around Bewdley, or on a slightly longer trip around Stourport. I wonder how many people realised that they were being driven by Sir Peter Hendy, the Chairman of Network Rail!
“This event brings in extra revenue for the Railway and also Bewdley station. We are grateful to our colleagues at Bewdley for their co-operation with parking arrangements, as we take over the whole of the main car park for this event.
Ian Cook took the charabanc photo, and James Pearson captured the Boris bus.
Dare you ride the SVR Ghost Train?
Our thrilling and scary Ghost Trains are a sell-out every year, but there are a limited number of tickets still available, if you’re quick. Trains depart from, and hopefully return to, Kidderminster on the evenings of October 26th, 27th and 28th at 6.05, 7.00, 7.55 and 8.50. Arrive early at Kidderminster Station where Disco Daddy will entertain you before your Ghost Train departs. We'll also have a face painter on hand to give you the perfect Halloween makeover. Once on board, you’ll travel in the eerie darkness to Arley, passing through our haunted stations on the way. But be aware, there may be mysterious passengers joining you on the train. When you arrive, prepare to be terrified as the station's spooky residents come alive! Strobe lighting will be used at some stations during the event.
Pre-booked tickets cost £11 for both adults, and children aged 2-15 who will also receive a spooky goody bag. Under-twos travel free, but must not take up a seat. Please note that Shareholder passes cannot be used for the Ghost Train services, and there are no discounts for Members. To book your tickets, go to http://www.svr.co.uk/SEItem.aspx?a=105 , if you dare!
Thanks a million!
Nearly 50 Charitable Trust Patrons recently attended a thank you event at Kidderminster station, to celebrate the Trust’s success in raising £1 million for the endowment Future Fund. You may remember that this appeal benefitted from a generous offer by the Heritage Lottery Fund to match, pound-for-pound, all donations up to a maximum of £500,000.
Patrons heard how their donations are playing an important part in future-proofing the SVR. The endowment Future Fund is a professionally-managed investment, which has already grown substantially in size, thanks to the income it earns in interest. In the years to come, this will help fund restoration projects at the Railway, for both rolling stock and infrastructure.
After presentations and lunch, Patrons had the opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes tour. Charitable Trust chairman Hugh McQuade was one of the tour guides:
“I had the honour of showing a group of guests round the Trust-owned Gresley teak coach, 7960. In recent years, I was one of the restoration team for this kitchen and dining composite vehicle. It is a superb example of the craftsmanship and skill that we have at the Railway. We also had tours of Carriage & Wagon, and the Diesel Depot. Many guests told us how much they valued being able to see how their donations are being used, and how they’re helping to make a real impact at the SVR.”
"We've been humbled by the generosity of supporters to our endowment appeal. Such was the response, that we hit the match-funding target HLF had set us, more than a month ahead of the June deadline. Thank you so much to everyone who donated to this appeal."
You can still donate online to the endowment Future Fund to help future-proof the SVR. Please go to http://svrtrust.org.uk/individual-support/donate-online-2.html . HLF match funding no longer applies, but the Trust can claim a further 25% Gift Aid if you are a tax payer.
Building progress continues at Bridgnorth
As the Share Offer in support of Bridgnorth enters its final month, there’s no let up in the progress taking place in the building works at the station itself.
As we go to press, around 80% of the brick arches above the windows have been completed, and some additional internal block work has been carried out. As you can see from the photo on the right, the rooms are now becoming more distinct with the individual cubicles in the toilets clearly visible.
A second scaffold lift is due to be deployed soon to give access to start work on the corbelling courses.
The golden age of the railways at Bewdley Festival
Don’t miss this opportunity to see Britain on Film: Railways at 10.30am on Tuesday 10th October in St George’s Hall, Bewdley.
Supported by the SVR, and part of Bewdley Arts Festival, this is your chance to travel back to the golden age of the railways, when trains ran on time and came complete with fluffed pillows, silverware and three course meals. Railways charts the history of the UK’s railways in a major new collection of rare archive films, from 1898 to the final steam train of 1968. Return to the romance and glamour of early train travel and be swept away by the freedom of travelling through the past and breadth of the UK.
Sourced from the BFI National Archive and newly digitised with a newly commissioned soundtrack, Railways revels in nostalgia for the lost glories of train travel, while documenting the rapidly changing social, economic and political climate of the UK from the tracks.
Tickets for this event cost £8 each and can be booked at https://booking.bewdleyfestival.org.uk/product_info.php?cPath=124&products_id=4734
Please Note: This film contains a sequence of flashing lights which might affect customers who are susceptible to photosensitive epilepsy.
Transforming the Toad van
If you visited Bewdley during the Autumn Gala, you might have come across the Toad van restoration project, currently being undertaken by the LNER Coach Group’s dedicated volunteers.
The team has made excellent progress on bringing this Charitable Trust-owned brake van back to life. With the three coats of paint they have recently applied, the van has now emerged from canvas and is looking rather splendid.
The volunteers are still looking for sponsorship for some of the items. They have a ‘shopping list’ to suit all wallets, ranging from individual floorboards at just £15, to the guard’s seat at £200, and guard’s writing desk at £50. For a full list, and details of how you can make a donation please visit http://www.lnersvrcoachfund.org.uk/Donations_and_Gift_aid_TOAD_17410_form.pdf
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
County Boundary works should complete this month
A relatively dry summer has meant work to remedy the landslip at County Boundary has proceeded very well, and the area has stayed stable during the soil nailing operation. Infrastructure manager Chris Bond brings us up-to-date on recent developments, and looks ahead to an important phase of the work later this month:
“We’re currently installing a network of counterfort drains, below the sheet piling. We’re fairly certain there’s a spring in the locality, as the ground has remained boggy in some areas whilst the work has been going on, even during dry spells. The new drainage network will draw off the water in the embankment and discharge into the Severn. Along with the other trackside drainage that’s been put in, this should greatly improve matters. “We still have a sizeable job to do on the track bed itself. We’ll do this during two consecutive non-running weeks this month. Four track panels will be lifted over the worst affected part of the slip, and around 800 tonnes, mostly ash, will be removed and replaced with fresh imported stone infill, reinforced with plastic geomesh grid. The track and fresh ballast will be replaced to allow a service to be run during the intervening weekend. The purpose of this is to hand back the formation in the condition it was before the slip occurred, fit for line speed.”
With contractors already on site at this remote location, it was decided to take the opportunity of carrying out repairs to the nearby Bridge 19, which will involve coping stone replacement and re-pointing. This will save future costs.
Once the track bed is completed, the contractors will withdraw from the site, reinstating the adjacent landowner’s ground as agreed.
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)
Coming soon, to a screen near you!
A camera crew has been at the Railway twice during the past month to shoot footage for a series of three promotional films. DRP Productions, who are based in Worcestershire, are producing the short films for the Charitable Trust, at no cost.
The films will promote various aspects of the Charitable Trust’s work, and will include appeals to the general public, to potential business supporters and to those who are thinking about leaving a gift in their Will to help preserve the SVR’s future.
It’s hoped that the films will help raise more funds to support the Railway, as Shelagh Paterson from the Charitable Trust explains:
“They’re not only a powerful showcase for the SVR’s attractions, but also explain why funds are needed to restore rolling stock and infrastructure, and to train apprentice heritage engineers. In one of the films, SVR veterans Malcolm Broadhurst and Paul Fathers talk about the determination of those who have worked so hard to preserve the SVR over the years, and why they want to make sure it continues to thrive, even after they’re gone.”
“We are extremely grateful to DRP Productions for their support, and to everyone at the Railway who has helped with the filming. We’ll be announcing release dates for the films as soon as we can.”
For more information about supporting the SVR through the Charitable Trust, please visit www.svrtrust.org.uk
Paid engineering roles available with the SVR at Bridgnorth
The Railway is looking for two team leaders (boiler smith and running repairs), a boiler smith and a fitter machinist to join the team at Bridgnorth. All four roles are permanent and full-time.
Experience of working in the heritage steam sector is preferable but not essential. If you have worked with boilers or have been involved with industrial metalwork or fitting/welding in heavy engineering, the SVR would like to hear from you!
Contact works manager Neil Taylor at email@example.com for more information, or to request a chat about your future role in the heritage steam sector.
Please circulate this information to friends and family who may be interested.
If you wish to apply, please send a copy of your CV and a covering letter to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible. Please indicate which role you’re applying for, and outline your suitability.
A458 Bridge improvements
The Railway is taking advantage of a series of 24 hour road closures by Shropshire County Council to carry out work on the bridge across the A458 Bridgnorth bypass. The first closures took place last month when the Council carried out resurfacing work, and the SVR’s specialist contractors moved in to jet-wash the structure.
This month, between the 24th and the 26th, a further Council road closure will allow our contractors to mechanically prepare and repaint the bridge. They’ll use a high specification paint, which will retain the current deep bronze/green colour.
Subject to receiving planning permission, the plan also includes mounting the SVR dagger board logo onto the bridge, which will raise awareness of the Railway on a daily basis to the many thousands of drivers who travel along the bypass.
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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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