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January 2023

40106 'Atlantic Conveyor' supplying the onboard heating at Kidderminster 2nd January 2023.
40106 'Atlantic Conveyor' supplying the onboard heating at Kidderminster 2nd January 2023. Kai Jones

Welcome to your latest edition of Express Points!

A very happy New Year from the Express Points team!

In your first edition of 2023, we bring news that Helen Smith, the SVR’s managing director, will be moving on to another organisation in the coming months. However, she’s very much still here now, and along with other SVR leaders, is working to ensure the Railway is in the best shape to face the inevitable tough times ahead. There are plans for a number of additional measures to ensure the SVR will come through the challenges of 2023 and thrive in the future. In the words of SVR (Holdings) chairman Mike Ball, “The year ahead is going to be critical.”

At Bridgnorth, a very positive start to the year has been made with phase one to renew the loco yard track and drainage. We’ve a detailed report from the volunteer project manager, and the SVR’s cameras have been on site to capture a flavour of what’s going on.

We look back to December and assess the Christmas season, which saw some significant commercial and reputational successes even though numbers were lower than had been hoped for. We also learn about how SVR team work saved the day when everything else was conspiring to ruin it.

There’s news from the team developing the UK’s first-ever hydrogen-powered shunter, right here at the SVR, we bid farewell (for now!) to two of our much-loved locomotives, and look back 50 years to when four other locomotives first arrived at the Railway.

All this, and much more, in your January Express Points.

Last month, we were sorry that we experienced some issues with our distribution – you may have received your email late, or even twice! We’re keeping everything crossed for a smoother service this time round! 

 

Lesley and Patrick, co-editors

The Express Points team is Lesley Carr, Patrick Hearn, Amy Baker and Nicola Fox

Next edition Thursday 9th February

What's new?

Departure of Helen Smith

The Railway today (12th January) released the following statement from Mike Ball, the chair of SVR (Holdings) Plc:

We regret to announce the resignation of Helen Smith, our managing director, who has accepted a new role with another organisation.

Helen will remain in post for the next few months and will be working closely with our vice chair Jonathan Dunster and myself to ensure a smooth handover. We will release more information about this as soon as we can.

Helen has made a phenomenal contribution to the SVR. In the three years that she’s been with us she has steered the organisation through the devastating impact of Covid-19, ensuring we secured substantial government support and emergency grant funding to keep us going when we were unable to operate. She successfully oversaw the reopening of the Railway in very changed and testing circumstances, with the country still in partial lockdown. It’s a testament to her leadership that we won a national VisitEngland excellence award for Resilience and Innovation last year. 

Departure of Helen Smith
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SVR announces plans to meet challenges of 2023

The Railway is entering 2023 with strong resolve and a determination to meet the challenges that it expects to encounter. Tourist attractions across the UK continue to be impacted by up to 30% drops in visitor numbers since Covid-19 and this has been made worse by the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. The SVR is taking proactive action to protect its business and ensure it comes through to thrive in the future.

 

Announcing the plans, SVR leaders remain committed to providing an exciting heritage railway experience for visitors, and alongside regular passenger services, the Railway will continue to hold a wide range of special events throughout the year, for both rail enthusiasts and the general public. 

 

The measures announced include changes to staff working patterns, a recruitment freeze, voluntary redundancies and proactive steps to save energy usage across the business. The Railway says it hasn’t ruled out compulsory redundancies but is working hard to avoid these. 

 

When the Railway reopens on Saturday 4th March, there’ll be a mixture of hop-on hop-off services along with curated excursion-

style trips. Operations will be concentrated into four days a week, using a mix of steam- and heritage diesel- hauled services.  

Plans are being developed for the four annual steam and diesel enthusiast galas, and this summer also sees the return of the ever-popular Step Back to the 1940s weekends. 

 

The cost of utilities is one of the biggest expenses that the Railway faces, and managers are clamping down on wastage across the 16 miles of the SVR’s line. They’ve asked volunteers to consolidate their working patterns so that premises only need heating and lighting for minimal times, as well as encouraging work to be put off where possible until the spring and summer, to save on costs. 

 

Mike Ball, chairman of SVR (Holdings) Plc said: 

“When we planned our programme and budgets for 2022, it was on the basis that we’d see a gradual return to ‘normal’ pre-pandemic levels of activity as the year progressed.  This did not happen, and the economic outlook suggests that 2023 may well be worse than 2022. 

 

“What we believed were temporary changes are going to be longer term ones, and we must adapt in order to survive now and thrive in the future.” 

 

Helen Smith, the SVR’s managing director added: “We facing the double problem of a significant drop in passenger revenue and secondary spend alongside escalating costs across all areas of the business. The current situation in Ukraine means the cost of utilities to heat and light our premises has rocketed, along with the cost of coal and diesel to power our locomotives.

“We want to make these important changes, in the coming year and beyond, to ensure our award-winning attraction continues to offer an excellent value-for-money experience for visitors.

“The resourcefulness and dedication of the SVR’s staff, both paid and volunteer, is truly marvellous. They are literally the life-blood of what makes the Railway tick, and we’re working actively with everyone to achieve our objectives this year.  

 

Mike added: 

“The SVR has been running as a preserved railway since 1970, and it has an inspirational and glorious history. We’re determined to do everything we can now to protect it for future generations to enjoy. The year ahead is going to be critical to achieving that aim.”

Please click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.

SVR plans to meet challenges of 2023
1501 at Country Park on New Year's Day 2023. Bob Green
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GWR Toplight Coach 9055 at Kidderminster in platform 7th January 2023. John Sherratt
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Hampton Loade station at dusk Steam in Lights 27th December 2022. John Sherratt
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Down by the river...the Lunch Train with pannier 1501 near Arley on 14th December 2022
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SVR is finalist for prestigious HRA award

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Steam Railway magazine has selected the SVR as a finalist for the award it’s sponsoring in this year’s Heritage Railway Association awards. And your vote can help secure a win for the Valley! 

 

The SVR has been singled out for the triumphant return-to-steam last September of its flagship locomotive 4930 ‘Hagley Hall’ along with the ambitious project it undertook last year to refurbish the loco shed at Bridgnorth into a watertight, insulated and well-lit facility that has transformed the way the engineering team looks after the fleet of steam locomotives. 


“Steam Railway was pleased to nominate the restoration of No.4930 Hagley Hall for a HRA award,” said Chris Gilson, the editor of Steam Railway. “It was a comprehensive overhaul that ultimately returned a much-loved engine to its spiritual home.”

The SVR is up against some impressive competition for the award, and every vote counts. You have until 11.59pm on 2nd February to add your vote using the following link  https://www.steamrailway.co.uk/read/hra-awards and we’re very much hoping you’ll vote ‘SVR’!

Please click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.

SVR is finalist for prestigious HRA award

Turn out is key at Bridgnorth Yard! 

See what’s happening with the project in the latest film release on the SVR's YouTube channel!

Following the completion of preparatory work in December, work on Phase 1 started on 4th January as the S&T team, led by Matt Morgan, dismantled parts of the first turnout leading to the yard and platform 2 at Bridgnorth, known as BH12. Work progressed well and, by the end of the day, all tie bars, linkages, point rodding and track circuits were removed. The following morning, with time in hand, they set about moving the compensators a short distance to their new location.  

 

Meanwhile, the heavy dismantling commenced, led by permanent way manager Barry Light and his team, with help from volunteers. By the end of 6th January there was a large gap in the track where the points had been, and the way was clear for weekend volunteers to remove redundant chairs from the main beams of Cleobury Road bridge deck and do other preparatory tasks. An honourable mention also goes to the volunteer sustenance which was provided in the form of succulent bacon butties from the refreshment room, cooked up by SVR Guarantee company [the membership and volunteer company] chair Diane Malyon!

For both track and structural reasons, turnout BH12 is being relocated northwards off the bridge. To reduce the movement off the ends of the bridge deck, the track bed is being dug out to a depth of a metre and rebuilt using a reinforced earth technique to give it strength. This will also reduce lateral forces on the wing walls, and positive drainage is being installed at the same time. A new turnout is being manufactured by KGJ Price in South Wales for expected delivery in the third week of January.

 

The intention is for the first turnout to be in place by the end of the month when the focus will move to clearing the way for the larger crossover which connects onto it and serves the head shunt, platform 2 and the yard. The significant down-hill gradient and adverse cross fall, due to settlement and site constraints, are being eased during the renewal to provide better conditions for extending the life of the track, and for passing traffic.

 

“The work being carried out should be good for many decades to come,” said volunteer project manager Nick Yarwood. “The project has got off to a good start but more hands-on-deck would be very welcome. Particularly, when the new turnout is re-assembled in situ from its factory kit of parts, the team will welcome additional help from willing volunteers. If you have permanent way experience, or are interested in gaining some, please visit the project volunteer portal for more details.” 

Phase one of the Bridgnorth Yard project is fully funded, but support is still needed for phase two, which is planned to start in 2024. To contribute, please visit svrtrust.org.uk.

Please click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.

Bridgnorth Yard Project
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Bridgnorth Yard Project
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Bridgnorth Yard Project
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Bridgnorth Yard Project
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Bridgnorth Yard Project
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Bridgnorth Yard Project
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Bridgnorth Yard Project
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Bridgnorth Yard Project
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Bridgnorth Yard Project
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Bridgnorth Yard Project
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Progress on Bridgnorth Yard works 11th January 2023. Brent Cleeton
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Turn out is key at Bridgnorth Yard! 

Wrapping up the Christmas season 

The 2022 Christmas season may not have been the busiest, but it nevertheless was successful, especially in terms of increased secondary spend.

Many new and exciting commercial initiatives took place, giving great value for money to passengers. Across the three main events (Santa trains, Enchanted Express and Steam in Lights) more 31,000 passengers were welcomed to the Railway, where their experience formed a key part of their Christmas period. It was a chance for families to reconnect and make memories once again. The fact that 75% of visitors to Santa Specials had already visited the Railway in the past, showed clearly that the SVR is a key feature in the festive calendar for many families.

A key commercial standout was the enhanced retail and food and beverage offering at Arley, where the panto shows took place for Santa train passengers. On some days, this relatively small area made a greater volume of sales than the Valley Suite.

During Santa trains, the hugely engaging actors gave 83 separate pantomime performances!

At Bridgnorth station, changes were also made to the catering operation, which moved to a marquee. This key initiative resulted in a higher secondary spend on average than 2021, even though there were fewer passengers.

“Nowadays, our visitors are much more demanding,” explained Michael Dunn, head of commercial and visitor experience. “Quite understandably, they expect much better value for their money than ever before.

“Simple adjustments can make a big difference and what we saw at Arley and Bridgnorth was that whilst expectations are high, consumers are lazy – I promise this isn’t meant as a criticism, but it is known trend! What it means is that the more we can do to bring things to the customer so their journey is easier, the better. This shows through our takings and customer feedback.

“Taking out the weekend when we had to cancel a number of services, we achieved a ‘net promotor score' of 75. This is how likely people are to recommend us to a friend or family member. Anything above 20 can be considered good, above 50 is amazing, so our score of 75 is fantastic and a testament to the work that volunteers and staff put into these events. Thank you to everyone who made it work so well.” 

Please click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.

Wrapping up the Christmas season
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SVR teamwork over the festive period

The dedication and teamwork of our staff and volunteers was well in evidence over the Christmas period!

December brought snow and very cold weather. One morning, it was -10 at Kidderminster; even inside the carriage shed it was -5. Signalmen, motive power and carriage staff rose to the challenge, booking on over two hours early to start steam-heating the carriages. Electric heaters were also brought inside carriages to further warm them. Loco crews assisted in thawing out carriage watering hoses and tending to a fire devil (a brazier) by the water column.

Then on Saturday 17th December, an operational incident saw the south end points at Arley station damaged on the last Santa service.

Simultaneously, flat batteries caused the dining train at Kidderminster to be cancelled, for safety reasons. It was dark, 300 passengers were at Arley, dining passengers were at Kidderminster, there was the evening Carol train to run, and fully-booked services the next day.

Standby buses were lined up, but weren’t needed after permanent way (PW) manager Barry Light turned out from home to make a temporary fix to the points. Traffic was on the move!

At Kidderminster, the team kept people the passengers informed, the Carol train ran and was busy with passengers transferred from the diner. The teams at Highley then accommodated the extra passengers.

However, at Arley, only one of the two lines was open. The operations team rapidly planned a new timetable for Sunday 18th with only five trains rather than seven. This involved revised timings and changes to locomotives, crew and signalling.

Things were in place by late evening, and this allowed mass communications to go out to affected Sunday passengers by email, and on social media and the website. Most cancellations were accommodated on Santa services in the following days, and some received vouchers or refunds.

Locomotive 2857
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40106 Atlantic Conveyo
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Meanwhile, the signalling (S&T) Sunday gang diverted to Arley to carry out as much work as it could on the damaged points. On Monday the 19th, PW and engineering services (ESMP) staff worked together to heat and repair the damaged point blade to return it to service, whilst S&T worked until 9pm to reinstall their side of the job and enable Arley signal box to open for Christmas services on Tuesday 20th December.

Not to be outdone, Kidderminster carriage staff booked on after hours to attend to lighting and flat batteries, as well as burst pipes and tanks from the cold weather.

Huge thanks are due to the wonderful staff and volunteers who pulled together to do their best in extremely difficult situations. How satisfying to have brought joy to passengers by running trains that we might otherwise have had to cancel!

Please click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.

SVR teamwork over the festive period

What's coming up?

Severn Valley Railway gears up promotion for 2023

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Two new publications are set to appear across the region in the coming season, as well as at booking offices and other high footfall areas across the SVR.

The annual visitor information leaflet promotes all aspects of the SVR’s offering to potential day-trippers, from general tickets to dining experiences.

 

This pocket-sized pick-up will be available in a variety of locations across the region, carefully selected to maximise effect. An eye-catching new cover is currently being designed, featuring 4930 ‘Hagley Hall’ alongside an inspiring new strapline.

Many of the SVR’s booking office staff have collaborated to produce the leaflet, which both encourages people to book ahead, yet also provides the ideal solution for staff to hand out when people have questions on arrival.

The SVR’s Marketing and Communications team is working with a number of companies to distribute the leaflets throughout the Midlands, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Staffordshire.

And, back by popular demand is a new and improved From the Window brochure. The benefits of this were discussed as key item at recent meetings of the MarComms management advisory group.

“The extended 36-page booklet will feature a full line guide,” explained marketing manager Dan Shorthouse. “Plus there are fantastic facts, safety tips, things to see and do, information about locomotives and carriages and much more to entertain and inform. It’s designed to be a keepsake for passengers, and to encourage them to visit more than once!” 

Advertising from local businesses is being secured to make sure that From the Window will be cost-neutral to the SVR, a vital consideration in the current economic climate. 

The images show the current versions, with the new versions to include new artwork.

SVR gears up promotion for 2023 

We need you for our Vintage Transport Extravaganza! 

This popular event returns on 12th and 13th August, with classic vehicles displayed at stations along the line. It combines elements of the much-loved Steam on the Road, Classic Car Day and On the Buses, and is the SVR’s biggest celebration of vintage transport. 

 

The Railway is inviting applications to exhibit cars, tractors, motorcycles, buses, lorries and commercial vehicles built before 1980. Exhibitors will receive two complimentary ‘Freedom of the Line’ tickets as a thank-you for attending.

 

Exhibits will remain static, unless otherwise agreed during an organised movement. For conditions of entry and to apply to exhibit vehicle(s), please go to https://www.svr.co.uk/2023/01/04/we-need-you-for-our-vintage-transport-extravaganza/ . Last year, there were more than 200 applications and the Railway is looking forward to another popular event. 

 

Details of attractions will be published nearer the time.

 

Photos: Regular New Year visitors at Bridgnorth are The County of Salop Steam Engine Society, who called in for refreshments on 2nd January. Please click on the gallery for larger images and credits. 

Bridgnorth visitors during last running day
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Bridgnorth visitors during last running day
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Bridgnorth visitors during last running day
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We need you!

Across the Railway

Kidderminster station to star in TV drama

For the past week, Kidderminster Town station has been the scene of much activity but not of the usual kind! Instead, the SVR has hosted dozens of crew and cast from a major TV production company.

 

Most of the filmed action has taken place within the concourse, but scenes have also been filmed outside the station. One evening, ambulances and police cars arrived, but it was all part of the script. 

 

“We’re not allowed to give further details at the moment,” said Michael Dunn, head of commercial and visitor experience. “This is part of the contract we’ve signed. However, I can tell you that it’s a one-off drama which will be broadcast in the autumn. Very importantly for us, we’ve brought in additional and very welcome revenue, during our annual winter closure.”

Photo; Film company vehicles in the SVR's car park. Martin White

Film company vehicles in the SVR's car park. Martin White.png
Kidderminster station to star in TV drama

The ‘Big Freeze’

Bridgnorth 1963
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Bridgnorth 1963
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Bridgnorth 1963
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Bridgnorth 1963
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Oldbury Viaduct 1963
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For once, we’re not referring to the recent December cold spell! Instead, we look back 60 years to the winter of 1962-63, known as the ‘Big Freeze’.

 

The Met Office describe it as the coldest for more than 200 years. It began before Christmas in 1962 and much of England remained covered in snow every day until early March 1963. Average maximum temperatures were below freezing throughout January.

The Sellick collection, hosted by The Railway Museum, includes images on the Severn Valley branch 1957-67. There are photographs around Bridgnorth during the freeze, on the 12th and 26th January 1963. They feature BR 4MT 80072 (a locomotive later to visit the line in preservation) and GWR Pannier 3619.

Please click on the gallery to see the images and descriptions. From the Sellick collection, hosted online by and copyright The Railway Museum licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Licence

The ‘Big Freeze’

Bringing the SVR archives into the digital age

The archive team, based at The Engine House, Highley is developing and expanding, and its members are keen to find fellow volunteers with facilities to convert various analogue media, such as cine film and VHS videos to digital.

The archive contains a variety of media that have been donated, and which are likely to be of interest to a wider audience. Converting these to digital will enable more sustainable storage (film and video inevitably degrade over time) and to make these valuable assets more accessible in the future (without the need for VHS players, film projectors, etc.)

Please get in touch with alan.coley@svrlive.com if you think you might be able to help.

Photo: Members of the archive team, busy at work! 

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Bringing the SVR archives into the digital age

Rolling Stock

A hive of activity at Bridgnorth loco shed

Locomotive 2857
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Locomotive 75069
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Locomotive 43106
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Locomotive 43106
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4150
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4150
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Behind closed doors, and secure under its new roof, Bridgnorth shed is a hive of activity, as volunteer shed master Martin White reports: 

The final weeks of the 2022 running season provided a few additional challenges to loco crews and maintenance staff due to some exceptionally cold weather. Frozen pipe work and fittings necessitated, at various times, careful preventative measures, thawing out and repairs. No major loco issues or failures arose, although there were one or two locos late off shed due to the time required to thaw out boiler water injectors etc.

The last few days of the season, in the first days of 2023, saw out the current boiler tickets of 2857 and 1501, with many supporters of these locos taking the opportunity to ride behind them for the last time before they were withdrawn.*

As soon as the running season finished, winter maintenance commenced. Work started very quickly on 75069, draining and washing out the boiler and it is now being stripped of parts of the running plate and valve and cylinder covers for a valve & piston (V&P) exam. Included within these scheduled works will be some refurbishment of side rod bearings as these have started to consume a lot of lubricating oil recently.

34027 ‘Taw Valley’ has a sizeable list of routine repairs to be carried out, but unfortunately also requires some unexpected V&P work. During the last few weeks of 2022, there were reports of it being off beat and initial investigation indicates a valve problem on the middle cylinder.

The middle cylinder, and its associated valve, is of course far more inconvenient to maintain than those on either side, being accessed via a large plate in the bottom of the smokebox, and from in between the frames beneath the boiler barrel. Hopefully this and the other repairs can be completed quickly so that it can be moved into the paint shop for its quick repaint into Southern wartime black livery.

Work will be continuing on 13268, 82045 and 4150 inside the works at Bridgnorth throughout the winter closed season. 

4150, the ex-GWR large prairie, had its virtually completed boiler (along with ashpan) temporarily fitted into the frames between Christmas and New Year. It was then shunted into the main loco works to enable the manufacture, or refurbishment, and trial fitting of operating linkages and pipework (there is a lot of it!) on the boiler and ashpan.

 

Please don’t get too excited by this - it doesn’t mean the loco is nearly finished! Once these trial fittings have been completed the boiler will have to be lifted out again for final out-of-frames hydraulic and steam testing, then sign off and commissioning ahead of final loco reassembly.

Spending the rest of the winter at Bewdley this year will be 43106 and the newly repainted 7714. These locos are being stabled at the south end of the Valley in readiness to commence the 2023 operations as the permanent way and Infrastructure works at Bridgnorth have now disconnected the loco works from the rest of the SVR.

*Editor’s note: see our separate articles on both these locos elsewhere in this edition. In addition a question that has been widely asked is for future overhaul plans. Head of steam engineering Duncan Ballard told Express Points: "Both 1501 and 2857 will be waiting an overhaul at a suitable date to be defined by Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) and Severn Valley Railway (Guarantee Company) and as it stands neither company has made any plans or commitment for any overhauls to commence in the near future."

Please click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.

A hive of activity at Bridgnorth loco shed

Farewell to 2857! 

GWR Churchward locomotive 2857 bowed out on Monday 2nd January, having racked up many miles in service on the SVR since its last major overhaul in 2011. During that time, 2857 frequently recorded the highest annual mileage of any steam locomotive on the SVR, having reached a total well in excess of 100,000 miles since its rescue from Dai Woodham’s scrapyard in 1974.

 

To celebrate the end of its current period of operation, the locomotive’s owning group, the 2857 Society, arranged for a farewell train of nine of the SVR’s finest GWR coaches and the BR Kitchen car.

 

In addition to seven coaches full of regular SVR passengers, 102 diners boarded the Severn Valley Limited dining train for a delicious three-course meal while the locomotive made its final 32-mile round trip of the Railway. The loco looked quite the sight as it hauled the 320-ton train the length of the line. Harry Bradley of the 2857 Society said: 

“It was fantastic to be able to give the locomotive one final send off before its boiler ticket runs out. We raised just under £2000 in donations and raffle sales which is another nice chunk of cash towards the overhaul. We are thankful to everyone at the SVR for their contribution and involvement in making the final day a success”. 

 

The intention is now to see 2857 through its 10-yearly overhaul, although no start date for the overhaul has been set at this time.

 

However, for those already missing 2857, there is something to look forward to. Recorded with six cameras mounted on the locomotive,

'From the Footplate’ is a two-disc production, which will be available at £14.95 in DVD format and £17.95 in Blu-Ray format. Each copy sold will raise money for the 2857 Society and the locomotive’s future overhaul. The DVD will be available from September, in time for the Autumn Steam Gala. To reserve a copy please email harry.bradley@svrlive.com

Please click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.

2857 - From the footplate
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Farewell to locomotive 2857
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Farewell to locomotive 2857
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Farewell to locomotive 2857
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Farewell to locomotive 2857
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Farewell to locomotive 2857
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Farewell to locomotive 2857
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Farewell to locomotive 2857
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Farewell to 2857! 

‘The Raging Bull’ bids farewell!

Nicknamed as ‘the Raging Bull’ and sole survivor of its class, 1501 has come to end of its boiler certificate, and has been withdrawn from SVR service for a well-earned rest. A boiler extension allowed the engine to run until the end of the 2022 season, and it hauled its final train on 2nd January 2023.

One of only 10 ever built, 1501 arrived on the Railway in poor condition in 1970. It returned to revenue-earning service in 1997 after a long and thorough restoration started by volunteers at Bridgnorth and completed at Bewdley.

 

It has since received a second overhaul, completed in 2012. Its 20 years in operation on the SVR are equal to the combined time 1501 ran originally for both British Railways and the National Coal Board. Brian Hill of the 1501 Pannier Tank Association said: 

 

“During restoration, many people worried the engine would be of no use to the SVR - but in spite of its detractors, 1501 has shown itself to be economical, useful, and smooth-riding, liked by all the crews and it’s had many admirers amongst SVR visitors.

“The engine is a great testament to all the volunteers, SVR staff and supporters who have cared for it during its more-than-50 years on the SVR. We look forward to many more years of steaming along the Severn Valley.”

 

1501 finished last week with a total in preservation of well over 100,000 miles. 

Please click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.

‘The Raging Bull’ bids farewell!
Locomotive 1501
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Locomotive 1501
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Locomotive 1501
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Locomotive 1501
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Locomotive 1501
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Locomotive 1501
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Locomotive 1501
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Powering into the future with the Harrier Hydroshunter 

It’s been a while since we checked in on progress with the Harrier Hydroshunter, a joint project with the University of Birmingham and Vanguard Sustainable Transport Solutions. A film recently released on the SVR’s YouTube channel charts the impressive moves forward the team have made. 

The Harrier Hydroshunter project is the UK’s first-ever conversion of a diesel shunter to run on hydrogen power. It’s a ground-breaking initiative that aims to reduce the railway’s carbon footprint.
 

Charles Calvert, Vanguard’s chief engineer, takes the viewer through the challenges of the project and what has been learned along the way, whilst project engineer Callum Nicolson explains how the shunter’s control panel has been designed to incorporate the necessary safety systems. The video also includes interviews with some of the young SVR volunteers involved.

Powering into the future!

'Cause we got a great big convoy, rockin' through the night!*

Peter Taylor and Colin Vaughan
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Early photo of 7819
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Locomotive 7819
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Locomotive 4930
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Locomotive 5164
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GWR 4141
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Locomotive 73129
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Five decades ago, an intrepid group visited Woodham Brothers’ Barry Scrapyard and returned home with four ex-GWR locomotives - 7819 ‘Hinton Manor’, 4930 ‘Hagley Hall’, and large prairies 5164 and 4141. 

Fifty years later to the day, on 6th January 2023 Peter Taylor and Colin Vaughan commemorated the event with a private visit to see 7819 at The Engine House Visitor Centre at Highley. Peter and Colin are two of the last of those who helped purchase the locomotive, 

 

So, what of that 1973 convoy? It left overnight from Barry in sub-zero temperatures behind ‘Peak’ diesel No 157 for Kidderminster (still then a British Rail yard), where it arrived in a whiteout of heavy frost. From there Sulzer Type 2 No 7655 delivered the vehicles to the SVR in Bewdley Down Yard.

7819 subsequently has had two spells in service on the SVR, and was last in steam in 1995. It is now owned by the SVR Charitable Trust. 

 

SVR’s flagship ‘Hagley Hall’ returned to steam on the SVR last year for the first time since 1986 thanks to support from the National Lottery, the Charitable Trust and the Friends of Locomotive 4930 group.

5164 has also had two spells in traffic, and since 2014 it has been under cover as a static exhibit at Barrow Hill Roundhouse Railway Centre near Chesterfield. The Erlestoke Manor Fund have launched ‘the Big ’Large Prairie’ appeal’ to return it to SVR service.

The story of 4141 is less familiar. The '4141 Hampton Loade Locomotive Fund' partly restored the engine in a siding there, before it was sold and left the SVR in 1990. It returned as a guest locomotive for the 2007 Spring Steam Gala.

Two other vehicles were in the consist from Barry. One was the tender from scrapped ex-LMS ‘Black Five’ 44888, which was purchased as a spare but which later left the SVR and was paired with preserved 8F 48624.

The final vehicle was BR Standard Class 5MT 73129. After the SVR locos were detached at Kidderminster, this loco continued its journey to Derby. It’s now based at the Midland Railway Centre at Butterley, and it spent the summer of 2014 on the SVR.

As if four locomotives were not enough, the short trip from Kidderminster also conveyed to Bewdley GWR coaches 6045 and 9615 and LMS 26880, all of which were restored in the Railway’s heritage coach fleet!

*Our title comes from ‘Convoy’ by C W McCall, released in 1975. 

Please click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.

'Cause we got a great big convoy

People

Bringing a wider understanding of mental health to the SVR

Volunteer Iain Shorthouse is launching an initiative to bring a wider understanding of mental health issues to colleagues across the Railway. His aim is to bring mental health to the forefront, to help people identify possible symptoms of anxiety and depression, and to signpost them to sources of support.

Iain’s interest in mental health wellbeing stems from his own personal experiences. Some years ago, he developed a presentation and talk that he delivered in his role with British Rail. 

 

He’s adapted and updated the talk for use at the SVR, and following presentations to both the senior leadership team and the staffing committee, Iain has received backing to roll out the talk to interested groups across the Railway.

“A conversation a few months ago with duty traction inspector Bob Drew highlighted to us both how a better understanding and acceptance of mental health issues is needed.

 

“We were still reeling from the news that we’d lost one MPD volunteer to suicide in 2020. Then another active MPD volunteer took his own life last year, after suffering from serious depression.


“Bob and I agreed that we wanted to do something. I’d put together a presentation about depressive illness some years before, as not only had I suffered depressive episodes due to illness, but I had been trained by mental health professionals to volunteer in a mental health charity. We thought offering the presentation to groups on the Valley might be of help.”

“If anyone is interested in making the talk available in their home depot, station, or location that works, please contact me at orientline008@yahoo.co.uk . This is about talking, listening, helping and signposting when it’s needed, and learning to recognise depressive symptoms in ourselves and our colleagues.”

Mental health on the SVR
Volunteer driver Iain Shorthouse.jpg

In memoria

Les Ratcliffe joined the Railway in the early 1970s at Bridgnorth station. Over the years he was a leading figure in maintenance of the station and new building projects. During the mid-1980s he became an on-train buffet car attendant.

With his wife Maggie, Les moved to the Manchester area in the late 1980s, resulting in him becoming less involved with railway volunteering.

Les passed away on 2nd December 2022 following a short illness. The funeral was held on 20th December in Chorlton-cum-Hardy.

Peter Lyons was a volunteer who remained in the background, although his input was of inestimable value to the SVR. A senior partner at international architects Peter Hing & Jones of Birmingham, he was the architect for Kidderminster Carriage Shed, constructed on the sloping site of the goods wagon marshalling yard. In addition, Peter was involved with drawings submitted to the National Lottery Heritage Fund for the successful Engine House application, firstly for a traditional engine shed and subsequently a contemporary building, using lighter material. Peter’s funeral was held on 9th January 2023.

In all these, we send our deepest sympathies to their families.

Space precludes fuller obituaries appearing in Express Points. These appear in internal NBIs and later in SVR News.

In memoria

V1 12th January 2023

V2 13th January 2023 corrects labels on 2857 images

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