This month's cover image of 34081 departing Bridgnorth on 18/03/17 by Ian Murray.
Welcome to your April edition of
In this months Express Points you’ll find updates on last month’s Spring Steam Gala, the ongoing work at Bridgnorth and a report on the 50th anniversary of the SVR’s first loco to arrive in 1967. We celebrate the ‘magic million’ in sales for the Share Offer and there are updates from the Charitable Trust and the newly-formed Wagon Review Group.
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Picture by Kenny Felstead
50 Glorious Years!
The train now arriving at platform two, 50 years ago!
Last week we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the SVR’s first locomotive, as a heritage line. On 25th March 1967, Loco 3205 arrived at Bridgnorth station, the first engine there since BR closed the line four years earlier.
Fifty years ago, 3205 was diesel-hauled to Stourbridge from the South Devon Railway. Then she travelled the final 30 miles to Bridgnorth, under her own steam. The Drivers that day were John Hill and Cyril Williams, and the fireman was Gerry Carter.
Have a look at this amazing archive footage of the event: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyUiANXyttg
As the gleaming engine arrived on platform two just after midday, she was greeted by the Mayor of Bridgnorth. The event drew thousands of visitors over the course of a three-day celebration, with the loco carrying passengers in two coaches from the station to Oldbury viaduct and back.
John Hill, who is still volunteering at the Railway 50 years on, looks back on the day’s excitement:
“It was a real reward for all the hard work we’d done to prepare the station and track. When the engine rolled in, it really lifted everyone’s spirits and we really started to believe that we were going to get the Railway back up and running.”
David Williams is a founder Member, volunteer, and was the editor of SVR News at the time of 3205’s arrival, a role which he continues to the present day. He adds:
“Those who were there will never forget the excitement of that first great weekend and my own best memory was a footplate ride with driver John Hill and fireman John Denson to Hampton Loade.
“The arrival of our first locomotive, very appropriately a mainline Great Western one, was not only exciting but also a turning point in the fortunes of SVR, which was just a small society at the time. As well as bringing us thousands of visitors, 3205’s arrival made people in the West Midlands believe in us and really boosted membership and financial support. We continue to need that support to this day as we work to preserve precious memories of steam for future generations.”
The 50th anniversary attracted plenty of press attention last week, and you might have caught one of the broadcasts on BBC Midlands Today, Central News or BBC Hereford & Worcester, or seen one of the many newspaper articles. Driver John Hill played a starring role with the press, sharing his recollections of the event. The coverage has further boosted our campaign for the Share Offer in support of the Bridgnorth Development. See the separate article in this edition of Express Points about the Share Offer reaching the £1 million milestone.
Back in 1967 when 3205 arrived on the line, it was less than two years since the inauguration of the Severn Valley Railway Society. The loco’s arrival boosted the fundraising efforts to secure the £22,500 needed to buy and restore the six-and-a-half mile track between Bridgnorth and Hampton Loade.
Picture by Stephanie Hill
It’s Open House next weekend
Members and shareholders are warmly invited to the Railway’s Open House event, this coming weekend, the 8th and 9th April. There’ll be behind-the-scenes tours of Bridgnorth Locomotive Works, Bewdley Yard and the Bridgnorth, Bewdley North and Kidderminster signal boxes will also be open for visits.
Plus there’ll be up to 30 model railway layouts in the Diesel Depot at Kidderminster and the Engine House, Highley. An intensive train service completes the enjoyment.
Normal fare prices apply for visitors over the weekend, but members will receive the usual discount and shareholders can either use their free tickets or receive member’s reduced rates during the event if they show their shareholder’s newsletter at the booking offices. Full details at svr.co.uk
Brake Van rides raise £1,270 for the Charitable Trust.
Huge thanks to everyone involved in putting on the Brake Van rides at the Spring Steam Gala, including volunteer loco crews, guards, hosts, signalmen and station staff . Your hard work has raised an impressive £1,270 from donations made by visitors, after Gift Aid and match funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund. This money is going to the Trust’s endowment Future Fund and will help safeguard the long-term survival of the SVR. Please visit the Charitable Trust website for details of the time-limited opportunity to double donations thanks to HLF.
SVR is Worcestershire’s ‘Best Visitor Attraction’
The Railway has been crowned ‘Best Visitor Attraction in Worcestershire’ in the What’s On Readers’ Awards. Re-acting to the announcement, events co-ordinator Lewis Maddox said:
“We’re absolutely thrilled with this accolade. Around 45,000 votes were cast, and we came out on top.
“2016 was a huge year for us, with the visit of Flying Scotsman and the launch of the Bridgnorth Share offer. Receiving this award is the icing on the cake. Thank you to everyone who voted for us, it means a great deal.”
Picture by Harry Bradley
Bridgnorth works progress
During the past week there’s been further progress with the ground beams, and construction is under way for the beams next to the platform. A great deal of preparation is needed before the contractors can lower the reinforcement steel cages into place, and shutter them up ready for concreting.
The contractors are intentionally leaving the top of the concrete piles longer than needed. Infrastructure Manager Chris Bond explains why:
“This is done so that they can crop them down to an accurate level and tie them into the ground beams. You’ll see in the photos how they are cutting the steel pile casing to the required height, then chiselling off the concrete to match. This may seem a backwards way of doing things, but it’s much better to have spare height on the piles than for them to be too short.”
Elsewhere on site, preparations are being made to construct a series of four brick test panels. Chris says:
“We’ve acquired a pallet of the bricks that we’ll use on the building, and by making up the test panels, we can choose which combination of aggregate and mortar colour we prefer.
“I’m delighted to announce that we’ve obtained a beautiful Edwardian fireplace, very similar to the one that adorns the waiting room at Highley. This will form a centrepiece within the refreshment rooms and very nice it will look too!”
Exclusive polo shirt for Members only!
The Railway is celebrating the launch of its 2017 summer clothing range with an exclusive polo shirt that will only be available to SVR Members.
The specially-designed burgundy shirts, complete with ‘Member’ detail next to the SVR logo, are available in men’s and ladies’ sizes.
If you’re unsure on sizing, please visit the Kidderminster or Highley shops, where you can check out which one will be best for you.
The shirts are priced at £22.49 for working Members and £24.99 for non-working Members, and will be made to order. Please order via the Kidderminster shop on 01562 757517, email Kidderminster.firstname.lastname@example.org. The first order will be sent to the manufacturers in May.
Order yours soon, and let everyone know how proud you are to be in the Severn Valley Railway family!
Working Members’ Quiz Night on 22nd April
The Volunteer Liaison Office has announced the next Quiz Night will be held at Bridgnorth Station Buffet on Saturday 22nd April. Please arrive by 7pm, for a 7.30pm start.
The VLO’s Barry Moreton adds:
“The usual rules apply. Eat, drink and try to answer some of the questions – all with compliments of the Guarantee Board. We look forward to seeing you for another enjoyable evening.”
News from the Academy
A few weeks ago, the Heritage Skills Training Academy said goodbye to James Lewis and Jack Eggleston. James is the first apprentice to achieve his Advanced Apprenticeship as well as his Level 3 Diploma in Mechanical Manufacturing Engineering. He’s gone back to his home town of Swindon currently working for a local engineering company. HR and HSTA Officer Jane Preece, HR and HSTA Officer says:
“We all wish both James and Jack the very best in their future careers. Jack joined the apprenticeship scheme at 16, moving away from his home and family, experiencing many different departments including PWay and enjoying every moment. He started restoring and renovating furniture as a hobby, selling pieces through a shop in Bridgnorth and decided that this was the career path he wanted to follow. He’s subsequently enrolled on a carpentry course back in his home county of Cornwall.”
C&W Paintshop Manager Hugh McQuade was clearing some items out of the KR Carriage Works before Jack left, and Jack could be heard to say “this would make a great table!” Truly, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure!
The remaining six apprentices continue with their college studies and work-based learning in Bridgnorth MPD and C&W at Kidderminster:
* George Brogan is the last of the current cohort to decide on his specialisation after rotating around the different departments. He moved recently to the boilershop in Bridgnorth and will join C&W Mechanical over the summer.
* Alan Brookes, who joined SVR as a volunteer in 2011, has progressed from cleaner to lighting up cleaner and has just passed his firing exam.
* Dean Parkin is developing a TV career, rivalling Nick Ralls with his appearances in front of the cameras last month on local news programmes celebrating SVR’s 50th anniversary and on “Rivers with Jeremy Paxman” when the TV celebrity visited to film at the Railway.
The Academy will not be recruiting in 2017 but the amount of ongoing enquiries from young people show that the interest in the 2018 recruitment will be very high.
How has the Charitable Trust helped the Railway?
The SVR Charitable Trust was determined to make a splash at the Spring Steam Gala to spread the news on how it has contributed to various projects around the Railway. Driver Roger Scanlon was about to take Sir Keith Park up the line to Bridgnorth with the Sunday lunch dining service, but just had enough time for a photo call next to the Trust’s banner on the Kidderminster concourse, to point out some of the ways in which it has helped.
Roger is also on the board of Trustees and is passionate about keeping up the fund raising momentum:
“Right now, we’re getting very close to the end of our match funding offer from the Heritage Lottery Fund. They’ve pledged to double every donation made to our endowment Future Fund, up to a maximum of £500,000, to produce a pot of £1million to help secure the SVR’s future. The window closes in June, so we’re asking everyone to make the most of this before time runs out”
Please add your support before June to the £1 million Restoration Appeal and HLF will double your donation.
As a working Member, remember to click on the 'Benefits’ page included in this newsletter for exclusive offers and benefits!
Each month we have a draw for a £20 voucher to spend on the Railway, check if you are the lucky winner here
Spring Steam Gala hailed as success
Cloudy skies did not dampen the spirits of passengers visiting our Spring Steam Gala, and 92 Squadron’s ‘go faster stripes’ certainly brightened up the weekend!
There was good news on passenger numbers, with 4,537 tickets sold against a budget figure of 4,300. This is a huge increase of 28% on the 3,537 tickets that were purchased in 2016. The success is down to the hard work of everyone who plans and takes part in the event.
And there’s more – the secondary spend was also up by 31% on last year, with the shops, restaurants and bars taking £66,000 over the three days.
Events co-ordinator Lewis Maddox adds:
“Operationally the event was a success, bar one or two minor problems with late running during the evenings. Additionally, Sunday’s service was delayed due to an incident involving the scrambling of an air ambulance to a photographer near Bewdley.
“Plans are now afoot for our Autumn Steam Gala, as well as our Galas for 2018, with one or two interesting themes and locomotives to look out for! All will be revealed soon.
“On behalf of the Gala Committee, thank you to everyone who helped to provide our customers with a fantastic event! Onwards and upwards!”
Kidderminster Station Master Geoff Smith agrees:
“I thought the visitors enjoyed themselves, and were pleased with the time table, as they could ride behind all the locos without any problems. The booking hall was well up on last year, and the stall holders were pleased with what they took. My thanks to all the staff that helped to make the Gala a huge success.”
And these sentiments are echoed by Bridgnorth Station Master, Chris Thomas:
“We’ve seen a great team effort in the week leading up to the Gala, and the weekend itself resulted in a very successful experience both for visitor enjoyment and financial results.”
If you missed the Gala, there are plenty of videos on youtube.com – here are links to a couple: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuvQQH91mw0
Pictures by Lewis Maddox, Ian Murray, Harry Bradley, Cameron Reid and Chris Reason.
Working Member Discounted tickets for 1940s Big Band Show
The Summer doesn’t feel that far away now our Step Back to the 1940s Big Band Show wristbands are on sale! We’re operating the same system as last year for Working Members to purchase their wristband.
All wristbands are available from the Kidderminster, Bewdley and Bridgnorth Booking Offices. Each working member can buy one discounted ticket (for £4) on presentation of a valid working member’s pass. The booking office needs your name so that the lists can be consolidated after the event to make sure the system has worked.
There are a limited number of tickets for sale, so buy early to avoid disappointment. The 1940s Committee want to thank everyone for their continued support for what’s shaping up to be another magnificent (and explosive) event! Click for more information on the Step Back to the 1940s event.
Share offer passes £1m and we’re on track for a summer opening for new refreshment room
Applications to purchase shares to fund the Bridgnorth Station development have now passed the £1million mark, five months into the share offer campaign.
Shortly after reaching the ‘magic million’, news also came that the flagship project in phase one of the development, the new GWR-style refreshment room, looks set for completion by the end of the summer, despite minor delays with ground works earlier in the year.
Special historically-accurate bricks for the decorative areas of the brickwork are already made and in store, ready for delivery to site within weeks. Meanwhile teams at the Railway will be building sample walls with a range of mortars to find the most historically-appropriate.
With the sale of a further 1.5 million shares still needed in just seven months, a digital and media advertising campaign is now underway to encourage further share applications.
You can find full share offer information at www.svr.co.uk/shareoffer or by calling 01562 757900.
See our ‘Bridgnorth works progress’ article for more detailed information on what’s been happening on site recentlhttp://www.svrlive.com/bridgnorth-development y, or check the SVR Live page
New coinage and the SVR
When Bewdley’s Assistant Station Master Dai Phillips emailed us recently with a reminder about the introduction of the new £1 coin, it prompted a question: how would this affect the SVR? There are a number of coin-operated machines dotted around the Railway which rely on the ‘old’ £1 coins, so we looked a little further into this.
For example, the car park machines require visitors to insert three £1 coins to obtain an exit token. Will they still work? Infrastructure Manager Chris Bond says it’s all in hand:
“The Kidderminster machine has already been converted to take the new £1 coins alongside the old versions, and those at Bridgnorth and Bewdley will soon be updated too.”
And what about all the vending machines around the Railway? Heritage Support Manager Andrew Burton explains more:
“Converting these machines is the responsibility of the third party companies that operate and service them, and we understand they’ll be implementing upgrades for them so that they can accept the new coins.”
You may have already spotted one of the new bimetallic 12-sided £1 coins; the first ones were issued by the Royal Mint last Tuesday, 28th March. They’ve been introduced because the old round coins have become increasingly vulnerable to counterfeiters.
Dai also points out that the old £1 coins will cease to be legal tender on 15th October, so make sure you spend yours before then! Plus, the old paper £5 notes cease to be legal tender in just over a month’s time, on 5th May. And, look out in September for the introduction of new polymer £10 notes featuring Jane Austen.
Wagon Review Group seeks Honorary Treasurer
The newly formed Wagon Review Group is in the process of forming a Committee to take forward their Wagon Shed proposal, details of which are below. The Group needs an honorary treasurer, both to manage money raised and to assist with the identification and implementation of practical fundraising initiatives in cooperation with other SVR organisations.
On behalf of the Wagon Review Group, Richard Gunning explains more about its background:
“As you may know, the SVR is host to a large and important collection of historic wagons, many of them wooden-bodied, in open storage at various sites across the Railway. They are restored, also mostly in the open, using scarce resources – and then left in the open to decay at the mercy of wind, rain and sun. Inevitably this leads to weathering and ultimately the need to raise funds to do it all again, as the accompanying pictures show.
“To ensure the long term survival of the wagon fleet – and especially the rarer items – the need has been identified for covered accommodation to protect them from the elements. To this end a Wagon Review Group has been established, and it has already financed and commissioned a site survey of the former sidings at Foley Park and, along with others, has used this survey to prepare outline plans, to discuss these with SVR management and other key parties, and to obtain approximate prices for creating such a facility.”
Any SVR Member interested in being involved with this exciting project should contact the Wagon Review Group via the Volunteer Liaison Office at Bewdley Station 01299 401776 (not after 9pm), or by email email@example.com
SVR working with Vélo Birmingham to minimise Autumn Gala disruption
A major closed road cycling event is taking place in the Midlands on Sunday 24th September, and there have been concerns that it could impact on SVR visitors as they travel to and from the Kidderminster and Bewdley areas during the last day of the Railway’s Autumn Steam Gala.
The organisers of Vélo Birmingham are expecting 15,000 cyclists to take part in their event, which starts in the city centre on the morning of the 24th. They have arranged for 100 miles of roads to be closed to allow the cyclists to travel safely, and hope that the event will raise more than £1 million for charity.
Events Co-ordinator Lewis Maddox has already met with Vélo Birmingham’s Operations Manager to discuss the issues. He says:
“We’ll continue to work together to ensure appropriate measures are put in place, such as road diversions and signage, to minimise the disruption to our event on the day. As the details become clearer, we’ll issue further updates. We hope that we can make arrangements that will suit both events, and that we’ll be able to keep the inconvenience to Gala visitors down as much as possible.”
Vacancies for seasonal carriage cleaners.
The Railway is looking for two members of staff to work at Kidderminster as Carriage Cleaners starting as soon as possible until the end of September 2017. Duties include cleaning internal carriage floors, walls, windows, tables, seating, toilets, vestibule areas and carriage exterior surfaces as specified by the Supervisor Carriage Cleaner to an agreed standard. Working hours will be 8am – 12pm three days a week and 7am – 11am on Saturday and Sunday. Please bring this to the attention of anyone who may be interested in this seasonal vacancy.
For more information or an informal chat, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. Written applications with details of previous experience should be sent to email@example.com as soon as possible.
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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 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.