January 2017

This months cover image of 4566 by: Joe Connell 

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Picture by: Joe Connell. 

Reflections on 2016 at the SVR

As we enter 2017, General Manager Nick Ralls casts an eye back on the highlights of the past 12 months, with a busy events programme that included Peppa Pig, the 1940s events, the Spring Diesel Festival, the Home and Garden Fair, the Classic Vehicle Day, On the Buses, Peep Behind the Scenes, two Galas, and of course Pacific Power and the SVRCT VIP Flying Scotsman Day.

Nick continues: 

“Whilst events have been very well attended, the call on working members has been too much this year. 2016 saw the successful opening of the Diesel Depot, achievement of Planning Permission for the Bridgnorth Station master plan and importantly the beginning of work on site laying the slab for the new Refreshment Room.  The Bridgnorth Building for the Future Share Offer has been launched to fund Phase I and II of the project and before Christmas, more than 650,000 shares had been sold. 

"At the end of the year, we also received awards!  Arley Station has won the National Railway Heritage Stagecoach Volunteers Award, with Bewdley Station Canopy coming Highly Commended for the restoration of its platform canopy in the Great Western Railway Craft Skills Award.  Right at the end of the year Rail Express and the Heritage Railway Association awarded the Diesel Depot the Modern Traction Award.  That’s a good number of accolades in the same year, well done to all those involved in these projects. 

“Whilst the accounts for the year will not be finalised until February 2017, the November 2016 results were positive, with sales ahead by £82,000 against forecast.  Passenger numbers at the end of November were 4,500 ahead of the same time last year. 

“It has been a year of success, but tempered with the over-commitment of working members who have supported the operation of the Railway so valiantly over the last twelve months. 

“We’re holding a Question & Answer session at The Engine House at 11.45am-1.15pm on Saturday 25th February to review 2016 and look forward to 2017. I very much hope to see you there, and in the meantime, on behalf of all Directors may I thank you very much for all of your support in 2016 and wish you all the best for the New Year.” 

Nick Ralls, General Manager

Nick Ralls

4566 bows out

On 2nd January 4566 made its final round trip along the valley. Its 10-year boiler ticket has now expired, and it needs a full overhaul costing up to £300,000. The loco is retiring to the Engine House, Highley where it will form part of the static display, as it waits for its place to come up in the queue for overhaul.

Picture by: Ian Murray

Arley Station gets top marks from the NRHA

Congratulations to the station team at Arley, who have been chosen as the winners of the Stagecoach Volunteers Award 2016 by the National Railway Heritage Awards (NRHA) Committee, for their outstanding dedication to maintaining and preserving their station.

Representatives from Arley received the award at a prestigious ceremony in the Merchant Taylors’ Hall in London.

Well done also to the Bewdley Station team, who were highly commended by the NRHA in the Great Western Railway Craft Skills Award, for their work on the major restoration of the unique island canopy on platforms 2 and 3. Staff from Bewdley also attended the awards ceremony in London, and Dave Phillips reports:

“The journeys to and from the capital were mostly with Chiltern and we were conveyed thanks to Bob Drew, Paul Martin and Phil Allison, all SVR volunteers. We even managed a team photo with the legendary Sir Bill McAlpine! We met a lot of interesting people and learnt a lot from the day. I would suggest that when the new refreshment facility at Bridgnorth is complete, it would be well worth entering for these awards.”

Arley Station Staff receive their reward

Diesel Depot scoops top award

 

Kidderminster’s Diesel Depot has won the unanimous approval of judges at the Heritage Railway Association, who gave the SVR top prize in the Modern Traction category for its ‘major contribution to modern traction preservation’.

Representatives from the Railway will officially receive the award at the HRA’s annual dinner on 11 February, in the very fitting location of the Grand Central Station in Wolverhampton, formerly the GWR’s Wolverhampton Low Level Station.

General Manager Nick Ralls is delighted that the Railway’s £800,000 investment in the state-of-the-art diesel maintenance facility has received such high recognition from the heritage railway movement:

“Although we’re best known for our steam trains, our diesel units are fundamental to the Railway’s fleet, operating around 10 per cent of the line’s passenger services. Public interest in heritage diesel trains is growing to such an extent that our annual diesel gala attendance figures were more than 50 per cent higher in 2016 than in previous years.

“This award is the icing on the cake for the team behind the Diesel Depot who have worked for nearly 20 years to make this happen.”

Paul Bickerdyke, editor of Rail Express which sponsored the HRA Modern Traction category prize, added his congratulations:

“I am very pleased to see the SVR win, as it is thoroughly deserved. The Kidderminster Depot is a top-class facility – one that would be the envy of many a main line operator!”

What’s happening at Bridgnorth in January?

Work has begun again in earnest after the Christmas break as Infrastructure Manager Chris Bond reports. He's keeping his fingers crossed for favorable  weather conditions as he looks forward to the next stages of the works. And Dave Postle has issued a ‘wish list’ of items for donation-in-kind or sponsorship.

Chris Bond reports that the first working week of 2017 has got off to a great start, with the main focus being on the installation of all of the drainage points required to project up through the building slab:

"This network of pipes has been laid, and left rising at the points where the various toilets, sinks etc will eventually be located. At the same time the datums [fixed reference points] have been laid out in preparation for the concrete ground beam that will tie the pile network together."

To a large extent, the progress that will be made during January will depend on favourable weather conditions, as Chris explains:

“When we come to pouring the concrete, we'll need the weather to play ball and give us the rising 5 degrees needed to do this without problems. We will just have to wait and see what the weather gods decide!”

Meanwhile, on behalf of the Bridgnorth Project Team, Dave Postle has appealed for donations-in-kind and offers of sponsorship for a range of items that will add the all-important authentic finishing touches to the scheme, including furniture, artefacts, fittings and signage. A full list of what’s needed is available on the Bridgnorth page.

Pictures by: Chris Bond
Pictures by: Diesel Groups

In Memoriam

Alex Cox, formerly of Bridgnorth Engineering, sadly passed away in December. Alex was one of the founder member of the ‘Tuesday Gang’ which was formed in the 1980s. He had not been active on the Railway for a few years, due to failing health. Our thoughts are with his family at this sad time.

Ron Treverton-Jones joins the Charitable Trust

The strength of the Charitable Trust’s Board has been boosted with the appointment of Ron Treverton-Jones. Already the existing Chairman of the CT’s Investment Committee, Ron is already very familiar with the Trust’s work, overseeing the management of its Future Fund. This endowment fund will play an increasingly important part in strengthening the financial stability of the Railway.

Ron is the Chariman of stockbrokers EFG Harris Allday, joining the company in 1972 after a degree in civil engineering and spending two years in banking. EFG are members of the CT’s Corporate Partnership Club and were the sponsors of its 2014 Ludlow Race Day.

It was this involvement with the SVR that rekindled Ron’s interest in railways; he’d previously only dallied with train spotting in the 1950s, when steam locomotives were still a common, workaday sight. Now he’s looking forward to even closer ties with the Railway:

“With my background in investment, I am of course particularly interested in improving the financial wellbeing of the SVR. I am impressed with the way in which the Heritage Skills Training Academy is training a new generation of apprentices so that essential, traditional skills will be kept alive at the Railway.”

Welcoming Ron to the Board, the CT’s Director of Development Shelagh Paterson said:

“Ron joins as we enter a new chapter in our story. Having spent the past four years building up our supporter base, we’re in a position to be able to make significant financial contributions to the Railway, both now and in the future. Ron’s expertise will prove invaluable going forward. He’ll help in identifying trusts and grant-making bodies for the team to approach, as we look to achieve substantial increases in the amount of financial support we gain from these sources.”

A cracking Christmas season for the Railway

Once again, the SVR put on a thoroughly impressive Christmas season, with numerous Santa and Christmas dining trains, as well as our Christmas Carol trains, and the post-Christmas Festive Season Service and Dining trains. General Manager Nick Ralls paid tribute to the hard work that made it all possible:

 

“Everyone, all along the line, put in a tremendous effort. Particular mention should go to the fabulous grotto team at Arley, and the Kidderminster station staff who worked wonders to load thousands of rather excited youngsters, on their way to see Santa.”

 

There was an overbooking problem on the 11th December Santa Steam Specials. Nick explains more:

 

“The extra numbers were booked because of a glitch in the communication between our online and telephone booking systems. However, thanks to the quick-thinking and resourcefulness of Kidderminster and Arley station staff plus Santa’s helpers, everyone was accommodated, and I’m happy to report that to the greatest extent passengers’ enjoyment was unaffected.”

 

Santa event co-ordinator Diane Malyon told Express Points about one of the unseen aspects of the proceedings; the operation to transport all the thousands of presents to Arley. As Di explains, this work began weeks in advance:

 

“At the end of October we took in the main delivery of presents which had to be loaded in the Siphons by hand. The photo shows just some of the amazing people who turned out to help early on a Saturday morning. We offloaded two articulated lorry-loads in just one and a half hours!

 

“After Santa had returned to the North Pole, more than 20 people turned out at Arley to break down the grottos. We achieved this in just one day, quite a feat when you consider it took us seven weekends to put everything up!”

 

Di extended her heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in the Christmas operation:

 

“There were volunteers, paid staff, local silver and brass bands, choirs, a Ukelele band, and let’s not forget Santa himself! Everyone worked their absolute hardest to give the passengers the best Christmas event that we could. It’s heart-warming to see the children’s faces light up when they get their gift out of the bag. Their enthusiastic waves from the train as they leave Arley tell us we've got it right.”

 

Bewdley’s Assistant Station Manager Dave Phillips paid tribute to staff and volunteers working on the post-Christmas Festive Season services, who went the extra mile to accommodate the exceptional passenger numbers in the days following Christmas:

 

“On the 27th, the first train of the day left full and standing. Luckily, Operations Manager Steven Chapple was travelling on that train, and he met with Station Master Chris Thomas at Bridgnorth. They agreed that an extra train would be laid on, doing two round trips each day. Using social media and modern communications, it was possible to provide loco and train crews almost straight away, and on the following day, the extra train ran with loco crew, guard, two ticket inspectors and a buffet steward!”

Pictures by: Di Malyon, Paula & Bill Griffiths

Signalling hand lamps urgently wanted

The Signal Box Restoration Team is appealing for donations of GWR or BR(W) signalling hand lamps. The Team want to use these as part of their current project to restore the box at Bewdley North.

 

Team member, Jordan Taylor, has contacted Express Points to ask volunteers to help:

 

“We’re wondering if there might be suitable lamps lurking in peoples’ sheds or garages, or perhaps even gracing their mantelpieces. If volunteers would be willing to donate these, it would keep another little aspect of our heritage alive, and I can guarantee the lamps would be put to extremely good use.”

 

The Bewdley North box is the latest of a number of signal boxes that the team have been working on over the past years, in an attempt to restore their interiors. Jordan explains more:

 

“At Bewdley, we have a lot of painting to do, that’s for sure! Part of our aim is to de-clutter the boxes, making them look as original as possible, although we do have to take into consideration that they are still used almost daily. As well as the lamps, which we need four of, we’d love to hear from anyone who has any other item they feel would be appropriate for the inside of a GWR or a BR(W) signal box.”

Jordan can be contacted by email on j_69t@hotmail.com

Check out the new and improved SVRLive

The new ‘SVRLive’ site launched a few months ago to provide an unparalleled, real-time news service to members, shareholders and enthusiasts. Updated daily, it has covered more than 100 topics since the relaunch. Key updates have included the Share Issue and the Bridgnorth development works.

Volunteer Communications Officer Patrick Hearn says feedback to the new website has been excellent, with the new SVRLive proving to be invaluable way of sharing activity and reducing barriers between groups and locations on the railway. He explains more:

"Over time, we're migrating in a myriad of websites that have grown up for stations and departments across the Railway. Inconsistencies in style of sites, and lack of regular updates in some cases wasn't creating a good impression of the SVR.

"The password-protected SVROnline website will continue as now for operational and confidential matters, as will the websites of the independent locomotive and rolling stock groups.

"Items that previously would have appeared in the ‘Web Round Up’ supplement to Express Points can now be found in real time on SVR Live, another reason to check back regularly. In addition, the new dynamic format allows us to move away from just the traditional three-quarter images of locomotives to those showing our staff, visitors and restoration in action. Recent images have included staff becoming elves for the Santa service, through to contractors piling on the Bridgnorth development and the Junior Club at work on wagons.

"Bill Griffiths, Jamie White and I are testing further developments that will make the site more accessible and user friendly. Importantly, it will also allow contributors to load news items and updates themselves.

"This is where you come in. The content is ultimately governed by news and images supplied or published by groups and departments across the Railway. For example, the Charitable Trust page has been substantially enhanced recently, we're regularly featuring news items from Bewdley Wagon and 82045. We'd like to include all groups on the railway, such as S&T, Bridgnorth PWay and Catering. Please send updates and pictures to patrick.hearn@svrlive.com. " Remember to bookmark the site at http://www.svrlive.com/ and check back regularly for updates.

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.

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