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September 2017

1450 on a Footplate Experience, seen in Bewdley south cutting on the 12/8/2017 - By Ian Murray

Welcome to your latest edition of Branch Lines!

As the Railway hits the £1.5 million milestone for the Share Offer, there are now only two months left to buy, and the race is on to secure the final million. Also in your September edition of Branch Lines, there’s news that Sir Keith Park will soon be departing, a look ahead to this month’s Autumn Steam Gala, and plenty of stories of interest from all around the SVR.

We included a photograph last month of the Plimsoll Land Rover as we looked forward to the Steam on the Road event. It struck a chord with Branch Lines reader George Moon, who recollects his time on an Army Cadet operating course in 1963, when I Railway Group Royal Engineers were experimenting with a similar vehicle:

“They experienced problems with overheating in reverse gear and the wheel studs not standing up to the vibrations of running on rails. There’s a photo of that particular vehicle on page 740 of the recently publishing history of the LMR (volume 3) taken by my colleague Keith Farmer.”

Thanks for sharing your memories George, and we hope you got to see the Plimsoll at last month’s event. It’s probably one of the SVR’s more unusual visitors!


Please do get in touch with your views and photographs by emailing


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Simon Turner & Lesley Carr, Co-Editors 

Picture by Ian Murray

Bridgnorth share offer passes £1.5 million with just over two months to run

The Bridgnorth Share offer has passed another key milestone, as share sales topped the 1.5 million mark. There are now just nine weeks left to purchase shares until the closing date of 31 October.

By the close of business on 25th August, sales had reached £1,502,245 as the share offer campaign team put into place the final elements of its campaign, in a bid to find the final million.

Tony Bending, one of the share offer campaign team said: “Just over 20 per cent of those who have expressed an interest, or have requested an application pack via the internet, have already bought shares. We expect this figure to rise, and we’re hopeful for a late surge in sales as the deadline nears, mirroring the pattern of our previous share offer in 2012.”


For the first time in the campaign the number of purchases from new shareholders has exceeded purchases from existing shareholders, topping up their holdings. The team expects a sales boost at the ever-popular Autumn Steam Gala from September 21st – 24th and they’ll be on hand during the Gala to process applications and sell shares. Tony added: “‘Although August has, as expected, been a quiet month for new applications, the level of purchase from those already in the pipeline has been encouraging.

“Our focus now is on making sure everyone with a potential interest outside the Railway knows about the share offer as we’ve just two months to run. To that end we’ve placed a series of advertisements in a range of heritage steam titles in plenty of time for potential new applications to be processed.” To find out more or request an application pack, please go to




Sir Keith Park to leave the SVR

The General Manager, Nick Ralls, has announced that Locomotive 34053 Sir Keith Park will be moving to the Swanage Railway for the rest of its boiler certificate. This is a mutual agreement with Southern Locomotives representatives and leaves every opportunity for further locos from the SLL fleet to visit in future years. Nick explains the background to this:

“The agreement for operating 34053 with Southern Locomotives has a break clause every two years, with the next renewal date at the end of 2017. We have agreed that the option to renew will not be actioned at the end of this year.

“Sir Keith Park has been resident on the Railway since 2012, and has provided sterling service, clocking many miles on SVR metals. Highlights include the Steam and Morgan car challenge in October 2012 and the inauguration ceremony of the loco in August 2013, that involved a most memorable fly past by a Spitfire and Hurricane at Bridgnorth.

“I would like to thank Simon Troy and his colleagues at Southern Locomotives for all of their work and assistance, and for allowing ‘Skip’ to run at the SVR for the last five years. I am sure she (or is it he?) will continue to be a popular locomotive and a consistent performer at the Swanage Railway for the remainder of the boiler certificate.”

On the Buses, rolling in to Bewdley on Sunday 10 September 2017

London Transport heads to Bewdley for our Bus Gala in 2017!

Please note a revised timetable may be in operation. Please check main SVR website.

Our exciting bus Gala this year will feature a number of London Transport vehicles on display at Bewdley Station. Rides on these historic vehicles will be available, and we have a surprise star attraction!

Come and see our line-up of vintage buses all beautifully preserved. We have a selection of stalls selling bus memorabilia that may take your interest or maybe have a bite to eat, and watch the buses go by, at our hot pork roll stand. 
Attractions include:

  • A superb display of historic London Transport buses, together with others from different regions and eras.

  • Sales and information stands selling a range of bus related items and memorabilia.

  • FREE bus rides around Bewdley and Stourport-on-Severn.

Visiting Buses on display:

  • AEC Routemaster RM5, built 1959

  • AEC Routemaster RM1005, built 1962

  • LNWR 'Charabanc' CC1087, built 1914

  • Hansons Local Bus (Ex Metrobus Croydon) Mini Pointer 2 Dennis Dart, built 1999

  • New Routemaster (Boris Bus), built 2011-2017

Parking is not available at Bewdley Station during this event. Free parking is available at Bewdley High School, which is an easy short walk away. 

Admission is FREE with 'Freedom of the Line' travel tickets or £2 for those without tickets - proceeds go to the upkeep of Bewdley Station. 

Autumn Steam Gala to showcase the rare, the royal and the popular


The Autumn Steam Gala later this month promises a host of attractions, from the extremely rare to the hugely popular. There’ll be overnight running, hauled by SVR residents Taw Valley and Sir Keith Park, to mark 50 years since the end of Southern Steam, and the visiting line-up will be showcased over the event’s four days, between 21st and 24th September.


A real one-off will star among this year’s visitors; No 564 Great Eastern Railway ‘Y14’ is the only remaining one of its kind, narrowly avoiding the cutter’s torch to survive into preservation.


A popular and much-loved addition to the line-up comes in the form of No 323 Bluebell – South Eastern & Chatham Railway ‘P’ Class - with thanks to the Bluebell Railway Plc.

Also visiting are No 2 Prince ‘Small England’ class, and No 926 Repton ‘Schools’ class.


An early morning breakfast train will be in operation and visitors can enjoy brake van rides on a goods train on Thursday and Sunday morning (tickets available), afternoon Brake Van rides around Bewdley Station on Friday and Saturday, autotrains with No 1450, Victorian narrow gauge steam train rides with No 2 Prince and morning shunting demonstrations at Bewdley as well as an intensive service throughout.


The SVR’s event co-ordinator Lewis Maddox said: “We’ve got a real crowd-pleasing line-up at this year’s Gala, which will pay a tribute to five decades since the end of Southern Steam and will see the final gala appearance of our much-loved resident Erlestoke Manor ahead of its overhaul.


“Our all-night running is back by popular demand and stations will be buzzing with goods and local services to-ing and fro-ing throughout.”


Additional event parking is available at certain locations near to stations, and road access to Kidderminster Station will be restricted on Sunday due to a cycling event in the town. Please see for full information or call 01562 757900.

The story behind the stonework at Bewdley

Stonemason Philip Chatfield has been working wonders over the past few months at Bewdley station, repairing various areas that had become rundown and rather the worse for wear, as he told Branch Lines:

“I’ve been working on the restoration of the former Station Master's office, now the Signals and Telecoms room, the booking office windowsills and corbels, and the stone plinth course. The stonework was in a bit of a sorry state, and it’s great to see it looking as good as new once more. It was particularly delightful to have occasional help from Assistant Stationmaster Dai Phillips during the course of my time here.”

Our photograph shows a lintel being lifted into place, under Philip’s supervision.

Although many people will have seen Philip during the course of his work at the SVR, only a few will appreciate that his talents extend even further than the exemplary work he has carried out for the Railway. Based on the Gower peninsula in south Wales, Philip is also a sculptor, specialising in church statuary and memorials. The quality of his work in this field is evident in the photograph of the Virgin Mary which Philip carved for Tintern Abbey.

Philip also carved a memorial to three sailors who perished when the sailing vessel Maria Asumpta was wrecked off the Cornish coast in 1995. He had a special connection with this tragedy, as he was himself one of the 11 crew members who were lucky enough to survive:

“I still have scars from the shipwreck and some occasional back pain. I remember that when the ship went on its side, I slid down the almost vertical deck and crashed into the starboard bulwark. I leapt off the ship into the frothing sea and held on to the granite rocks some ten or so feet below the water level. Somehow I made it back up to the surface and after several buffetings by the sea, I made the climb to the top of the cliffs.”


Philip has now completed phase one of the work at Bewdley, and Infrastructure Manager Chris Bond paid tribute to Philip’s craftsmanship:

“We’re extremely pleased that Philip has been able to carry out this renewal work, and everything he does is completed to the very highest standards. I’m hoping he will return next year to attend to phase two of the stonework renewal at Bewdley. This will see the creation of a new angled bay window for the station house, as well as further work to the plinth course and upper windowsill.”

Philip has been a regular fixture at Bewdley this year, overnighting in the sleeping accommodation at Arley. He’s clearly got the SVR bug, and has done a stint of volunteering at Arley, tackling the rather tricky renewal of damaged brickwork to the toilet exterior and the waiting shelter.


Photo credit at Bewdley station: Jack Boskett photography

Also a photo of the Virgin Mary at Tintern Abbey


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


Please Note: This film contains a sequence of flashing lights which might affect customers who are susceptible to photosensitive epilepsy.

Merci beaucoup, et bon voyage!


Eagle-eyed reader Richard Rathbone spotted on one of last month’s picture captions that a young French engineer was helping to paint the roof of coach 24105 in Kidderminster Carriage & Wagon. His interest piqued, he got straight in touch:


“I've seen the odd mention of foreign work experience people, and have always been curious how and when this started. Is it successful? Has it been going on, unsung, for years? Do they enjoy it or depart vowing never to return again?”


We got straight onto C&W Paint Shop Supervisor Hugh McQuade to find the answers. He tells us:


“We have been having French interns in the carriage works for about six or seven years. It all started with an e-mail from their organisation I-Cam which arranges placements for engineering students at Nantes. They come for about 11 weeks to improve their English, but also they usually learn a lot of old fashioned skills, as most of their engineering is computer-based.”


Incidentally, the very helpful French intern in question, 21-year-old Paul Brunet, finished his placement at the SVR last week, and according to Hugh was visibly sad to leave. However, he didn’t depart empty-handed. As well as a Kidderminster BR style totem fridge magnet, he also received a packet of chocolate Hob Nobs and a bottle of Irish whiskey, courtesy of his friends and mentors at the Railway. Our photograph shows Paul (second from the left) with some of his colleagues at C&W.

New faces join the Comberton Place team

A number of new colleagues have joined the front office team at Comberton Place. Victoria Evans has recently taken over the role of Membership Secretary following Kate Kirk’s retirement. Victoria has had a long association with the Railway, and has worked for Elise Ballard on board the Observation Saloons. Her three children also enjoy their visits here.


Victoria will normally work the same hours as Kate, 9 – 2 pm Monday – Wednesday and is available on 01562 757930. In her absence, Victoria’s Visitor Services Team colleagues will respond to any queries regarding membership.


And there are a few more new faces and voices in the team, following Martin Bannister’s secondment to the Operations Team and the retirement of both Wendy Broadhurst and Ros Vale. Jane Robinson, Dawn Adams and Emily Sparrow have joined in part-time, temporary roles alongside the regular team.

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

Thanks for reading!

If you receive our monthly newsletter by email and wish to unsubscribe from our newsletter please click the link at the bottom of your email or alternatively use our contact form below.


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 either Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) PLC. which owns the Severn Valley Railway, or Severn Valley Railway Company Limited, the members of which are responsible for its operation.

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 for details!

  • Spring Steam Gala March 16 - 18

  • Open House Weekend April 7 & 8

  • Paw Patrol Visit April 28 & 29

  • Spring Diesel Festival May 17 - 19

  • Mixed Traction Day May 20

  • Goods Gala June 2 & 3

  • Step back to the 1940s June 30 & July 1, 7, 8

  • Peep Behind the Scenes (TBC) July 14 & 15 (TBC)

  • Classic Vehicle Day July 29

  • Steam on the Road August 11 & 12

  • On the Buses September 2

  • Autumn Steam Gala September 20 - 23

  • Small Engine Weekend September 29 & 30

  • Christmas Gift Fayre October 21 & 22

  • Ghost Trains October 25 - 27 (TBC)

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