September 2018

1501 is seen departing Hampton Loade with a charter on the 29th August 2018, by Ian Murray

Welcome to your latest edition of Branch Lines!

 

Did you get chance to see 7819 Hinton Manor last week, after the long-awaited return of this much-loved locomotive?  It was on display for a week in the dock at Kidderminster station, but even if you didn’t make it for a viewing, 7819 will be on display later this year at The Engine House as we report in September’s Branch Lines. 

We’ve also got news on some key board decisions from general manager Nick Ralls, and a fascinating guided tour of the Bridgnorth loco yard by none other than the shed master himself.  Plus there’s confirmation on the final visiting engine for the autumn steam gala, which we think you’re going to love. 

If you have friends or family with an interest in the SVR, please let them know that they too can sign up to Branch Lines. Just go to http://www.svr.co.uk/EmailSubscribe.aspx and select the Branch Lines tick box.  

   

We’d love to hear your SVR-related news and views. Whether you’re on the other side of the world (as a number of our readers are) or you’re just down the road from one of our stations, please do get in touch with us at branchlines@svrlive.com.   

 

Simon Turner & Lesley Carr, Co-Editors 

Picture by Ian Murray

Hinton Manor is back!

In a spectacular feat of logistics, including the removal of a glass wall of a shopping centre, the 68-ton 7819 Hinton Manor locomotive has returned home to the Severn Valley Railway. 

The engine had been on loan for eleven years and was on display to shoppers in the Swindon Designer Outlet Village which occupies the restored Great Western Railway works. It was here that the engine was built nearly 84 years ago, at the cost of £4,914. 

Originally rescued from a scrap yard in Barry more than 45 years ago by the Hinton Manor Fund with help from the SVR , Hinton Manor last steamed along the Severn Valley in 1994 before its loan to McArthur Glen, the shopping centre operators, was agreed in 2007. 

A team of volunteers from Severn Valley Railway was on hand throughout the day at Swindon to lend their expertise to the complicated exercise. 

Now owned by the Severn Valley Railway’s Charitable Trust, the engine was brought back by road to Kidderminster station on 21st August, and spent a week on display, by popular demand. 

It’s now safely in storage in the carriage shed, but later this year, after some cosmetic renovation,  will  take its place in The Engine House Visitor Centre, as the Railway’s wedding engine, licensed for civil ceremonies. 

General manager Nick Ralls welcomed Hinton’s return, saying, “7819 is an important part of our past so we are delighted to welcome the engine back to the Railway where it will form a key part of our future.” 

Kevin Cronin, a second generation volunteer engine driver, was in charge of the removal operation and added, “Hinton Manor was an enormously important part of my childhood and one of the reasons I became a driver both here as a volunteer and professionally on mainline trains.  

“I can vividly recall sneaking onto the footplate as a lad when my dad was driving and dreamt one day of taking the controls.  7819’s return to the Railway brings that dream a step closer.” 

Hinton Manor will take its place in the queue for overhaul, behind Hagley Hall, 42968 and 7325. A new set of tyres is in storage, in readiness for the restoration, and in due course the Charitable Trust will be launching a fundraising campaign.  

 

Photos: Bill Griffiths 

The SVR engineering team ready to get the loco moved, from left to right, Josh Harvey, Dan Guinan, Leigh King, Kevin Cronin (team leader), Dave Evans, Will Marsh with Andy Christie (videos) 

‘Helping hands for Falling Sands’ – an update on this ambitious restoration project  

 

Since the SVR launched its fundraising campaign in April, the Charitable Trust office has been buzzing with activity. Already, well in excess of £200,000 of the target £275,000 has been raised, and the amount increases daily. 

 

The £275,000 target has been set by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and reaching it is an important element in unlocking a further £1million of vital HLF funding to carry out the essential repairs on the viaduct.  

 

Preliminary structural investigations have revealed a potential problem, as consultant civil engineer Jonathan Symonds explains, “We have discovered two gas mains, laid within the fill material over the viaduct. These were agreed to by the previous owners of the Railway, and one of them has proved to be live. These were not known about before the investigations began. The operator of the gas mains has been established, and we are in discussions about what needs to be done.” 

 

The Charitable Trust’s director Shelagh Paterson added, “There may well be further cost implications because of this complication, and we are working hard to establish what these will be. It looks likely the SVR will have to increase its contribution to the project, and we will keep you updated.  

 

“This project is ambitious. It is also essential for the long-term operational viability of the SVR. The high level of support that has already been shown tells us that people close to the Railway and in the wider community are behind what the SVR is doing to ensure its future. If you’ve already added your name to the donation wall, we are very grateful indeed. If you haven’t, we’d love to invite you to join the thousands of others on our first ever donation wall, all of whom are ‘helping hands for Falling Sands’.” 

  

It’s easy to add a name to the SVR’s first ever donation wall at www.svrtrust.org.uk 

Photo: Matthew Wilson 

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Hop on board our ‘spooktacular’ Ghost Train 

Get dressed-up and prepare for a scare. Our famous Ghost Trains are steaming in once again to take passengers on a thrilling ride into the dark…and hopefully back again. 

Tickets are now on sale for the ever-popular spooky services, running on Saturday 27th, Tuesday 30th and Wednesday 31st October.  There are four departures from Kidderminster each evening, and the trip lasts around 90 minutes. 

It’s bound to be a screech, and these events are always a sell out, so book your tickets now at http://www.svr.co.uk/SEItem.aspx?a=105 

A wizard time was had by all 

On four spellbinding days last month, the SVR was transformed into a magical world of wizardry and witchcraft as we put on a series of events quite unlike anything that’s happened at the Railway before. 

The Wizard Express services, run in conjunction with events company Moo & Goo, were aimed to appeal to a rather magical type of visitor; those keen to immerse themselves in a world of potions, spells and broomstick riding lessons. Timed to coincide with the school summer holidays, and running alongside our normal service trains, the events attracted 1,100 extra visitors over the course of the four days in August. 

The passenger reaction was hugely positive – here’s a selection of comments: 

“The magicians on the train made the journey enjoyable. We will definitely stay longer to look around the station and enjoy the other exhibits” 

“Fantastic day…learning to fly broomsticks, making magic wands and meeting owls” 

“You should all be really proud of yourselves, you’ve put on a brilliant day.” 

General manager Nick Ralls said, “The Wizard events were something of a departure from the sort of thing we’ve done before, and were a fantastic success. They’ve brought in a whole new raft of passengers, happy to pay a premium rate for a wonderful experience. I am hugely grateful to Team SVR for making it all happen, from those within the core planning team, namely Elise Ballard and her team, Tammy Ferris and Lewis Maddox, to all those across the Railway who worked so hard on the days of the events to give our visitors a thoroughly entertaining day out.” 

Photo below, 7714 hauls the Wizard Express - by Ian Murray

General manager Nick Ralls shares news of some important decisions by the Holdings board 

At the Holdings board meeting in August, there were a number of key decisions to take in preparation for 2019.   

The fare structure has been the subject of negotiation with the Heritage Management Advisory Group and with other volunteer groups.  An increase is required as our costs are always on the rise. The utility costs for the Railway increased by 10% in 2017.  Inevitably the price for coal and diesel will rise and there will be an increase in the costs of locomotive material.  We also expect a government increase in the living wage which will increase the salary bill.  These price increases will be featured in the 2019 timetable brochure which is currently in preparation and which will be available for the Worley Model Railway show. 

Chris Bond, our infrastructure manager, has begun work on planning the annual viaduct repairs for the coming winter, and this year Borle Viaduct has been chosen. Chris received board approval to expend £4,000 on preliminary surveys and tendering, so that he is in a position to award a contract towards the end of this year. 

A contract is also being let for Phase II of Bridgnorth, for work on the field car park and access roads.  The work will commence this autumn and be completed this winter.  This is important in terms of improving parking and the visitor welcome at Bridgnorth station. The Bridgnorth facilities will become crucial during the early part of 2020, as we undertake the work on Falling Sands Viaduct from January to March, rendering Kidderminster station isolated from the rest of the line for three months.  I will keep you updated on the plans for Bridgnorth in the coming months. 

The Bridgnorth refreshment room takes shape 

 

Infrastructure manager Chris Bond reports on the progress of the new build, where things are coming together very nicely.  

 

We’re now into a big push towards completion. A large quantity of tiles has been laid to both walls and floors are really transforming the internal appearance of the building, but there have been challenges for the tiling team who have worked hard to achieve the best finish possible.  

 

The kitchen has now had a large stainless steel extraction canopy fitted, and all the plumbing and electrics are in place for the forthcoming installation of catering equipment.  

 

The Bovey Tracey building is substantially complete with just windows and doors to be fitted. 

 

Externally, the GWR spear top railings have been fitted to the terrace area and look superb.  

 

Elsewhere the joiners are busy manufacturing the internal joinery for the servery counter, back shelving and bench seating. The servery counter will be topped with Carrara marble, similar to that at the King and Castle and this is now on order. 

 

Photos: Chris Bond 

A view from the buffet, on the ‘front line’ of passenger service 

 

The SVR has more than 40 volunteers in its on board buffet department, but it’s not just about coffee, crisps and cakes. As self-described ‘trolley dolly’ Jim Taylor explains, they’re playing a key role in making sure our passengers have a wonderful day out, and will want to come back to visit again. 

 

What I love about my role is talking to the passengers and helping them to enjoy their day with us. We play a crucial part in how visitors experience the SVR and it’s lovely when we get compliments. I remember one chap who told us he was a senior shareholder, and said how impressed he was by our efforts. It’s things like this that tell you when you’re getting it right.  There are also times when we have a breakdown or long delay, and we help to keep the passengers informed and amused about the situation.   

 

There’s a lot more to the job than just turning up and selling refreshments though. At least an hour before the train departs, you have to assemble all the items for sale from the bases at Kidderminster and Bridgnorth. We’re told in advance about any groups or coach parties that are booked in, and that helps you gauge how much stock you’ll need. Next you’ve got to get everything loaded onto the train along with the hot water canister for the trolley. 

 

Usually, we work in pairs, with one person serving in the buffet car, and the other taking out the trolley, visiting each carriage. As the train approaches stations with short platforms, such as Bewdley and Highley, you need to make sure that you’re not in the way because passengers need to move along the train in order to get off!  

 

My wife Pat and I have been volunteering for seven years now, and one of the highlights was the guy who ordered two brandies before we’d even left Kidderminster. I understood everything when he explained that he would be meeting his girlfriend at Bewdley and needed a little Dutch courage before proposing to her.  

 

At the end of the day, we have ensure the gas and water taps are turned off and unload everything onto a platform trolley for transportation and careful storage back in the shed. We also prep for the next day’s crew by stocking the fridges, filling crisp boxes and filling the trolley canister with water ready to heat up. When you’ve covered the last train, you can often be last member of staff to leave the station, and you keep your fingers crossed that the car park isn't locked!  

 

As well as the satisfaction we get from interaction with passengers, it’s also rather pleasing to know that the sale of on train refreshments contributes more than £100,000 a year to the Railway’s revenue.  

70000 Britannia confirmed for the autumn steam gala 

A few days ago came the announcement that everyone was waiting for – the final visiting loco for the autumn steam gala was confirmed as No 70000 Britannia. 

Having recently returned to steam, the Brit makes a triumphant return to the SVR between 20th and 23rd September. 

After extensive work to the locomotive over the last three years, the team of engineers at LNWR(H) have, in the last couple of weeks, completed the rebuilding of the locomotive and successfully returned her to steam at their Crewe Diesel Depot. 

Moving to us shortly for running in and final adjustments, Britannia is an old friend in many ways. It was resident at the SVR between 1971 and 1980, and was last seen on the line in 2015. 

Britannia will star alongside fellow Pacifics Duchess of Sutherland and Taw Valley, as well as Royal Scot and 100 year old engines Q6 No 63395 and GWR No 2857. 

A Brit, Duchess and Scot all operating at the same time – could it get any better? 

Book your tickets now: svr.co.uk/AutumnGala 

Photo: Simon Mulligan. 

A great day out with the kids as PAW Patrol stars visit the SVR 

Earn yourself some brownie points with the children or grandchildren, and bring them along to the Railway on the weekend of 20th and 21st October.  Stars from the children’s TV programme PAW Patrol are appearing at The Engine House Visitor Centre at intervals throughout the two days, and youngsters will be thrilled to meet Marshal and Rubble for themselves. 

Family entertainer David Oakley from A Box of Tricks will be wowing the crowds with his fast and funny magic shows during the event and The Animal Man will be bringing a selection of little critters and creepy crawlies for families to meet. 

And there are of course many other interactive exhibits at The Engine House, including jumping on the footplate of a real steam locomotive, sorting the mail in the travelling post office and meeting Gordon the big blue engine! A full, family menu will also be on offer at the restaurant and kids can burn-off some energy on the outdoor adventure playground. 

More information and tickets are at http://www.svr.co.uk/SEItem.aspx?a=71 

A different view of Bridgnorth yard 

Shed master Martin White reveals some interesting facts as he takes us on a tour of the yard. 

We needed an aerial platform to facilitate some recent maintenance and improvements and whilst it was in place in the loco yard, volunteer passed cleaner Antony Bartlam grabbed the opportunity to photograph this unusual view. 

On the left hand side, you can see the motive power depot coal dump. We get regular deliveries of 28 tonnes of ‘Shotton Trebles’ from Northumberland. During the peak season we consume two loads per week, at well over £100 per tonne. Do the maths and then think how many tickets we need to sell to cover that cost!  

Beyond the coal pile are the roof of the lighting up wood store and the MPD oil stores. To the right of this, is the outline of the loco pit. But, you’ll spot that it is shorter than 2857, the loco standing to the right of it. When that pit was constructed it was a massive improvement to Bridgnorth yard, doubling the pit capacity at that time. But, to be honest, it’s really only suitable for preparing and examining the shortest SVR locos. Ideally it needs to be lengthened or replaced, but there are always other things to spend the money on. 

The bird’s eye view of 2857 isn’t great, but nevertheless there are points of interest with regards to the tender. If you look very closely there are two brown coloured lines on the platework by the water filler. They are a couple of spare firebars. Made of cast iron, these are consumable items which will burn away until they weaken and break. That’s if they last that long, because they can become damaged, broken or warped if footplate crews and shed staff don’t look after the grate. Consumable items they may be, but they don’t come cheap. To replace even half a grate of firebars in 2857 would cost in excess of £1000, and that’s just the material expense. Man-time to replace them and the operational cost of the loco being out of traffic would all add to this cost. This and the coal bill demonstrate that steam locos are costly beasts. But then so are the carriages, the P-Way, the bridges, and everything else. 

To the right of 2857 are the frames of 4930 Hagley Hall, which are on accommodation bogies, whilst the loco wheelsets are receiving attention. In front of these frames is a wagon on which sits the red oxide painted boiler barrel for 82045 and two narrow gauge boiler components from contract work. To the right of them is the long inspection pit. This is much more suitable for working under a large loco such as 2857. 

And finally, to the right of the long pit is a wagon carrying another boiler. This is from 4150 and is awaiting its turn to move into the boiler shop, hopefully in the near future.  

Photo: Antony Bartlam 

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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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