2857 by the poppies at Bewdley on 26th June 2021. John Sherratt
Welcome to your latest edition of Express Points!
The sun is out, well at least for some of the time, and we’re celebrating! Firstly, the successful running of our two Step Back to the 1940s weekends, when staff across the Railway put their all into creating these truly amazing special events. We have a fabulous array of photographs, showing these off at their very best. Our second reason to be cheerful is that the SVR Charitable Trust’s Home & Dry appeal has already chalked up almost 60% of its target amount!
We’re waiting for further government announcements on how restrictions will be eased across the country in the coming weeks, and the signs are looking positive. The Railway will be reviewing its timetable and services, taking changes into account, and will work out the best way of proceeding.
In other news, the SVR Guarantee company has launched a survey to find out volunteers’ views, the Railway has been hosting a very unusual test train in the past few weeks, and we bring you a few minutes of mindfulness, SVR-style!
Lesley and Patrick, co-editors
The Express Points team is Lesley Carr, Patrick Hearn, Amy Baker and Nicola Fox
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The Home & Dry appeal gathers speed…
The SVR Charitable Trust has announced an impressive start to its Home & Dry appeal, having already secured £250,000, just six weeks after the launch of the appeal. “The appeal has gained considerable momentum since its launch in mid-May,” said Shelagh Paterson, the Trust’s director of development. “We’ve received donations of more than £197,000, with over £70,000 raised in the last three weeks alone!
“We are thrilled with the support shown by members, donors and shareholders alike. We have a target of £425,000 to ensure all the necessary improvements can be made at Bridgnorth loco works and we've now secured almost 60% of this amount. From everyone at the SVR, a huge thank you for your amazing dedication to the future of this wonderful heritage railway!”
Proceeds from the Home & Dry appeal will go towards transforming Bridgnorth locomotive works, helping to fund a new roof, a travelling crane and energy efficiency measures.
As part of the appeal, the Home & Dry raffle raised a net total of more than £31,000. The raffle was drawn on 30th June by volunteer project co-ordinator Antony Bartlam and SVR head of engineering Martin White, who - most appropriately - drew the winning tickets out of the safety valve bonnet from locomotive 4930 Hagley Hall. Martin commented, “This is a fantastic result from the raffle, every penny of profit going towards the refurbishment and improvement of Bridgnorth locomotive works.”
Winners were spread across the whole of the UK with the £1,000 winning ticket going to a lucky supporter in Abergele, Wales. All winners will receive their prizes within the next few weeks.
There is still plenty of time to contribute to the appeal. Donations of £75 and above will not only pay for a steel purlin for the new roof, but will also secure the donor a signed, limited edition Alan Reade print of Bridgnorth locomotive works. All donations of any amount will be very gratefully received and can be made online at svrtrust.org.uk/home-and-dry.
Photos: Martin White and Antony Bartlam draw the raffle winners at Bridgnorth on 30th June 2021
View inside the loco works, with water on floor from roof leaks. Antony Bartlam
SVRG launches mass survey of volunteers
The SVR Company Limited, also known as SVRG or the Guarantee Company, has launched a mass survey of working members to find out their views and ideas.
The Guarantee Company looks after both SVR members and working members, and the Board is keen to know volunteers’ views on all sorts of things, from how they receive communications about the Railway, to whether they’ve received training and PPE where appropriate, and how valued they feel by the organisation.
“This is an important opportunity for us to reach out and ask how our working members are experiencing their interaction with the Railway,” said SVRG chairman Diane Malyon. “We’re also asking for ideas and suggestions about how things might be done differently in the future.
“After the trials of the past 15 months of Covid-19 impacting so dramatically on how we have been able to operate, it’s now time to take stock and look forward to the future. For instance, there are currently a huge number of ways in which we communicate with working members. Perhaps this could be streamlined?
“Our survey, which marketing manager Dan Shorthouse has helped us to develop, is on SurveyMonkey, and it’s quick and easy to complete. We really do value everyone’s input on this, and hope that volunteers without their own computer will find a way of accessing it either through a friend or when they attend the Railway. Many thanks in advance to everyone who responds.”
The deadline for responses is Friday 30th July, and you can access the survey at https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SVRVolunteerSurvey
We got back ‘In the Mood'
After a two-year gap, our major Step Back to the 1940s events returned in style on 26th and 27th June and 3rd and 4th July, as event chairman David Brattan told Express Points.
This year’s event has been over 18 months in the planning and has been the hardest to organise in my time on the committee. Big thanks go to the whole committee of dedicated, enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable people who have all worked tirelessly in the background for the last 12 months to ensure the event came to fruition. At times we thought it would never happen, but despite everything that had been thrown at us we did it!
To allow the event to run safely this year's event operated at 40% of its normal capacity, with slightly under 3,000 visitors and re-enactors on the trains. We all worried it might lack the usual appeal and atmosphere, but we’ve pulled off a very successful event thanks to all our staff, re-enactors, vehicle owners, stallholders and entertainers. We’ve received lots of positive feedback, as the below comments taken from TripAdvisor show.
“Have been for many years but much prefer the way it is organised in order to stay in line with Covid-19 regs. Absolutely amazing day. Well organised. Carriages for use of your party only, spotless and each one with small bottle of antibacterial and rubbish bag. Would definitely recommend”
“An absolutely brilliant time. Well organised and praise indeed for all the volunteers and organisers who worked so tirelessly to ensure everything went smoothly. FANTASTIC!“
“Really enjoyed the Step Back to the 40s day. Lots of different stations to see and it was like stepping back in time as people were dressed in the era. Very well organised. Well done Severn Valley Railway. Will definitely book again next year.”
We now begin the task of taking it all down before we start planning for the 2022 event, building on the comments, feedback and reviews from this year.
Click on the photos for full screen, uncropped images, descriptions and photo credits.
Taking a NAAFI break at Bridgnorth
Visitors to Bridgnorth during the recent Step Back to the 1940s events were greeted by a very impressive addition – a nattily converted NAAFI* van, serving drinks and snacks to an appreciative crowd!
The van was the brainchild of MPD volunteer Alan Pincher. “I managed to scrounge a chassis,” he told Express Points. “And after I’d extended this in both length and width, I got a good deal on some upcycled aluminum sheeting for the roof and walls. My daughter Emma did the sign stenciling and colleagues at Kidderminster donated the crockery and pans to add an authentic 1940s feel.”
The idea was that the van would take some of the pressure off Bridgnorth refreshment rooms, by providing hot and cold drinks and snacks during the 1940s events. Business was brisk, especially for the bread pudding, home-made by Alan’s wife Andrea! All takings went directly to the catering income for Bridgnorth.
“It was absolutely fantastic to see the van, very much looking the part amongst the other vintage vehicles, and it really did add to the atmosphere. We’re hoping that we’ll be able to operate the NAAFI van at future events, such as Steam in Lights later this year. Huge thanks to everyone who’s helped, especially Bob Lane, John Ordidge and Bob Toye.”
*NAAFI is the abbreviated form of Navy, Army and Air Force Institute, a place where members of the armed forces go to buy a drink or something to eat.
‘Desert rat’ Alan Pincher taking a NAAFI break with Diane Malyon on duty behind the counter. Credit Roger Norfolk
The SVR hosts another test train – beware weeds everywhere!
The curious-looking Smart Weed System Train arrived at the SVR for testing in mid-June. A joint project by Bayer Environmental Science, GB Railfreight, Network Rail and a number of hi-tech start-ups, this was another chance for our heritage railway to earn its stripes as a testing facilitator for a cutting edge main line project.
Hot on the heels of the GB Railfreight Class 69 testing that took place at the Railway earlier this year, the SVR pulled out all the stops to make this latest project a success. A ROGS exemption certificate was obtained from the ORR in order to allow 35mph running – a considerable increase on the usual heritage line speed of 25mph.
The Smart Weed System Train uses special on board detection cameras and algorithms to detect the density and type of weeds along a railway line, and delivers a targeted, calibrated dose of herbicide at just the right time and place. This train is the first of three which will go into service, covering the main line.
An SVR team worked alongside the Bayer test team. They worked an intensive programme of 12-hour overnight shifts for almost three weeks, to put the train through a complicated array of tests and recalibrations.
The first three test nights were worked by SVR-based 50035 and 50049. They were replaced by GBRf Class 66s; 66709 ‘Sorrento’ in Mediterranean Shipping Company livery, and 66771 ‘Amanda’ in standard GBRf colours.
The SVR team came on shift at 3.30 each afternoon, to begin forming the consist at Kidderminster. Together with the Bayer test team, they headed out to the test site after the arrival of the last passenger train at 5.30.
The test site was a 200-metre section of track between the Bewdley South Down Distant and the mouth of Bewdley tunnel.
Testing would begin in earnest around 7pm, with repeated run pasts. The Bayer team brought in their own weeds, carefully placing these at strategic points on the track and on special tarpaulins at the side of the track, so they could determine the accuracy of the train’s performance. The spray system delivered plain water rather than herbicide for the purposes of testing, so the SVR didn’t benefit from any actual weed killing as part of the programme!
The run pasts would continue until about 2am, after which the train returned to Kidderminster, and the possession key was safely returned to Bewdley.
“It was a full-on operation,” said the SVR’s Matt Robinson, who acted as person-in-charge of operations. “However, I found it enjoyable and rewarding work. I believe having the same team on the project day-in, day-out, made it easier for everyone. We all knew the plan each day, where things had been ‘left off’, and we could discuss the next day’s plan before we finished, so we could get on with it straight away.”
The on-site SVR team also included Steve Jones, Dave Evans and Brent Cleeton. Integral to the project’s initiation and success were Mike Ball (SVRH vice chairman), Andy Barr (SVRH director), Duncan Ballard (contract manager) along with Gary Parsons of Kidderminster C&W.
Click on the photos for full screen, uncropped images, descriptions and photo credits.
New head of visitor experience
This week Michael Dunn joined the SVR as head of visitor experience. He comes to the Railway with a solid background in the heritage and the museum sector. His most recent post was at Dulwich Picture Gallery and he has also worked at The View from The Shard and the Royal Collection Trust.
“I'm thrilled to be joining the Severn Valley Railway at such a positive time as we move out of lock downs and restrictions,” Michael told Express Points.
“I'll be out and about on the Railway as much as possible meeting volunteers and staff and getting stuck in with the world class heritage experience that the Severn Valley Railway has to offer. I look forward to working with you all over the summer, on what looks to be a very exciting season for us all.”
New SVR ‘Souvenir Guide’ for visitors
The SVR has launched a brand new book, written and designed to appeal to non-enthusiast visitors. The Souvenir Guide is a 72-page publication, packed with facts, history and fascinating stories about the Severn Valley Railway from its earliest days to its current operation as a preserved line, largely run by volunteers.
“We wanted to produce a book that’s easily accessible to the general visiting public,” explained the book’s editor and the SVR’s head of marketing and communications, Lesley Carr. “They might simply be coming to the Railway for a fun day out, but we think they might also be open to and interested in a little more behind-the-scenes information. We’ve worked hard to produce something that will appeal to all ages, and we hope that through its pages, they might just catch the ‘heritage railway bug’ and want to come back for more!”
The Souvenir Guide costs £10 and is available online at www.svrshop.co.uk and in SVR shops. It's intended to complement the existing Visitor Guide, compiled by veteran SVR writer and photographer David Williams.
The big lift
On 12th June, the Railway hired in a 100-tonne crane at Kidderminster TMD to remove the 34-tonne power unit from 50033 ‘Glorious’ and the diesel engine from ‘donor’ shunter 08635 as part of the SVR’s Harrier Hydroshunter project.
Tony Middleton, the Class 50 Alliance’s volunteer engineering director, worked across both engine lifts and said, “This has been a long time in preparation, and it’s given the opportunity for our younger volunteers to work on an exciting and ground-breaking scheme. They’ve had to make a lot of preparations, stripping components and removing the nuts and bolts.”
The Hydroshunter project is the UK’s first-ever conversion of a diesel shunter to run on hydrogen power and the engine lift took the project past a significant milestone.
It now progresses to the next stage, the design and installation of a hydrogen-battery hybrid traction system that’s being developed at the University of Birmingham. The SVR is working in partnership with the University and local start-up company Vanguard Sustainable Transport Solutions on the Hydroshunter project.
Peter Amor, project engineer at Vanguard, said, “We’re really making fantastic progress and it’s thanks to the hard graft of SVR volunteers that we’ve reached this stage. It’s absolutely fantastic to see the lift taking place and I can’t wait to continue pushing ahead with the design of the hydrogen power pack.”
After the Harrier Hydroshunter receives its new power pack, it’s planned that testing will take place at the Railway later this year.
The removed Class 08 diesel engine will be reused for training, and to provide spare parts for the Railway’s other EE 350hp shunters.
The removal of the 2700hp power unit from 50033 ‘Glorious’ will allow Fifty Fund volunteers to fit a replacement generator.
That’s yer lot!
Thursday 1st July saw the final runs in traffic, for the time being, of GWR 4-6-0 6960 ‘Modified Hall’ Raveningham Hall, at the expiry of its boiler certificate. The locomotive had seen service the previous weekend at the first of the 1940s events, before bowing out with two days on the Adventurer/Sightseer excursion services during the week.
Affectionately known as ‘Ratbag’, it’s been on hire to the SVR since 2019, courtesy of Locomotive Services Limited, and came here after a spell on the West Somerset Railway. It was also a much-loved resident on the SVR between 1977 and 1996.
“I was the driver when 6960 returned to the SVR on 25th May 2019,” said Duncan Ballard. “So it was a great delight to close the chapter and circle with the final run and passenger turn of her current boiler life on 1st July. Many people know I have a fondness for Hall locomotives and I would like to think it will not be too long before the Valley echoes to the chimes of a Hall exhaust again. Thank you Ratbag, you’ve given great service to the SVR in various spells over the years.”
Raveningham Hall’s owners are making arrangements to collect the loco by road haulage and will announce their future plans for it in due course.
Unfortunately, the weather didn’t co-operate at the end, and photographers were met with overcast skies on 1st July. However, John Sherratt kindly shared these images of 6960’s final afternoon services.
Looking ahead to 2022…
SVRG director Tony Bending and signalman Christine Bentham have been thinking well ahead, and have been hard at work producing two SVR calendars for 2022! These are now on sale at https://svrshop.co.uk/ . The cost £9.99 and all profits will benefit the Severn Valley Railway.
“In October of last year we produced an SVR calendar for 2021,” Tony told Express Points. “Since it wasn’t available until quite late in the year, we only had 200 copies printed. Such was the demand, however, that they all sold very quickly and we printed a further 100 copies, which also sold out.
“Spurred on by this success, we’ve launched two calendars for 2022, one steam and one diesel. With a month to a page, they both contain 12 excellent photographs taken at various locations up and down the line. We’re hoping the take-up will be equally enthusiastic this year!”
Q&A recordings now available
June’s successful online Question and Answer session, which focused on SVRG issues, was attended by a good number of working members.
In keeping with previous convention, the SVR is making the content available online, this time in three easy-to-digest video episodes. You’ll need an svrlive.com log on to access them as they are only intended for staff viewing. There are several different ways to watch the videos:
Go to Microsoft Teams and the SVR TODAY channel, and they’re at the top of the page. (A guide to Teams is on SVR Live)
Or, on SVROnline, click the SVR Logo in the green bar anywhere in the system (a guide to getting access is on SVRLive) or go to https://svronline.sharepoint.com . The videos are on the right of the page
Or, use Microsoft Stream, where you can also view a transcript of the event. To access Stream from Teams or SVROnline click the ‘waffle’ icon at the top left and choose Stream. Alternatively, go to https://web.microsoftstream.com/ . The Q and A videos are ‘spotlighted’ at the top of the page
Or, on mobile you can download the Stream app with Android or Apple, and they should be the first three videos in the list
For IT queries and password resets, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
SVRG Chairman Diane Malyon taking part in the latest Q&A session
A tribute to Ian Murray
We are very sad to report that Ian Murray, long-time SVR photographer and supporter of Express Points, passed away on 10th June following a courageous battle with cancer. Many of Ian’s photographs have appeared in SVR publications over the years, including the SVR’s 2022 diesel calendar which sadly he will not see.
Chairman of the Diesels Committee, Jonathan Dunster said:
“Ian was a familiar face along the SVR at stations and on the lineside over the past 30 years, during which time he took many thousands of images of steam and diesel traction.
“Ian’s real passion was for the SVR’s diesel fleet and for the Class 50s, so it was fitting that the Class 50-hauled Pioneer services operating on 11th and 13th June carried a wreath in memory of Ian.
“Fortunately, Ian’s legacy will live on, as he’s donated his entire photographic collection to the SVR and the Class 50 Alliance.”
When Ian told the Express Points team last year of his prognosis, we were delighted to work with him to produce a retrospective of his work, which also included his early years’ story. Despite his illness he continued to provide us with wonderful images. Ian’s widow, Sally told Express Points, “I saw the article last year, was really touched and know it meant the world to Ian. He was not an extravert, but very proud when his work was appreciated.
“Over the last year, Ian has got a lot of support from his train mates at SVR and Fifty Fund, for which he was a member for over 25 years and the reason we moved to Shropshire 14 years ago. We were so blessed that he had the time there and took a great many photos. Tributes on social media have been truly amazing, he was known as a gentleman, passionate and knowledgeable about trains and a perfectionist with his photos, seen by the side of the track and quickly identifiable with his long hair. I did not mind sharing him with his hobby as I know how very much his train mates and the trains meant to him.
“The SVR have kindly agreed to scatter his ashes at our favourite spot by the line and near the river where we spent many a happy hour, after a ride on his favourite class 50 of course.”
Ian was a good friend to us on Express Points and our sincere condolences go to Sally.
Click on the photos for full screen, uncropped images, descriptions and photo credits.
Steam in Lights services selling fast
Tickets went on sale last Friday 2nd July, for the SVR’s spectacular Steam in Lights services, and there’s been a strong, early demand to secure seats for this festive extravaganza, with more than £23,000 of sales generated on the first day alone.
“Getting these early bookings plays an important part in generating much-needed revenue for the Railway,” explained Helen Smith, the SVR’s general manager. “Plus, across the board, there’s been a change in customer behaviour as a result of the Covid pandemic and resulting lockdowns. People want to get things in the diary and booked, so they know what’s coming and that they have something to look forward to.”
Steam in Lights services run on selected dates from mid-November through until late December, with up to three nightly departures from Bridgnorth.
The experience features brand new narration and music, as well as a live performance on platform 2 at Bridgnorth before the dramatic arrival of the breath-taking steam-hauled train, adorned with tens of thousands of colourful lights. The journey takes passengers past twinkling scenes, full of lights, forest creatures and mysterious characters. This year the number and range of lineside displays has been expanded to ensure this is a truly unforgettable experience.
Departures from Bridgnorth are on selected dates between 19th November and 23rd December, with up to three evening departures. Tickets start at £20 per person, bookable in compartments for up to four or six people, or at socially-distanced tables for two. Carriages will be cleaned regularly and the Railway will ensure that all appropriate social distancing restrictions are in place. All bookings are covered by the SVR’s Covid Guarantee.
Please tell your friends and family about Steam in Lights; last year’s events were sold out, and this year’s success will be key to helping the SVR recover from the loss of revenue it has suffered because of Covid-19. It’s planned to launch the sale of the ever-popular Santa trains, departing from Kidderinster, in the coming weeks.
Book tickets at www.svr.co.uk or by phone on 01562 757900.
Little hands over to large on the loco front
Shed master Martin White reports from Bridgnorth MPD where there’ll be a gradual ‘changing of the guard’ with the SVR’s steam locomotives:
You may have noticed we’ve been utilising our smaller locos so far this season. A small tank locomotive obviously uses much less coal than a tender loco, especially whilst running smaller carriage formations. We’ve seen good performances from 1501, 7714 and 813, but as we now move towards a busier period, we will start to increase the use of the larger locomotives.
So, this means we can take the opportunity for 813 to go out on hire; it’s booked to spend the summer on the Mid-Norfolk Railway. Meanwhile, 1501 is receiving some attention to the bottom-end. After nine years in traffic, things have become a bit worn and we’ll use the Bridgnorth wheel drop to remove a wheelset at a time, to check things over and replace the lubrication pads. Although the loco is 12 months away from the end of its boiler ticket, this work is necessary to reduce the risk of any more serious damage arising, and to ensure that the loco remains fit to operate until the end of its ticket.
Crews on 34027, ‘Taw Valley’ have experienced the whistle valve becoming stuck open on a number of occasions recently. Unfortunately, it took several attempts to rectify the problem, but it finally seems to have been resolved. It wasn’t a straightforward issue, involving differentials in the coefficient of friction between various materials – I haven’t heard that phrase since A-level physics many years ago! On the positive side, the work undertaken on Taw Valley’s regulator earlier in the year has resulted in a much smoother operation, which has been commented on by a number of drivers.
43106 will also soon need some attention to its regulator, as there’s a lot of wear and slack in the mechanism. This is particularly noticeable when the loco is stabled, and it can be tricky to get the regulator properly closed and quieten down the steam escaping from the drain cocks. We are carefully managing the mileage, as the loco is generally worn and tired all round, eight years into its boiler ticket, and 13 years since the last full mechanical overhaul.
75069 has seen little use this year so far, but we plan to use this loco as much as possible during the approaching main season, along with 2857, which maintains its reputation as a reliable performer.
6960 ‘Raveningham Hall’ came to the end of its boiler ticket on 1st July (see separate article) and is now withdrawn from traffic. Arrangements are being made by the locomotive's caretakers for it to be collected by road haulage. I am sure that an announcement on their plans for the loco will be made in due course.
Another loco that will be leaving us in the near future is 1450, which was withdrawn from traffic last December. We don’t have the capacity to work on the locomotive currently and so the owner has made arrangements to send it elsewhere for overhaul.
1501 receiving attention at Bridgnorth loco works. Martin White
The three ‘panniereers’
Fifty years to the day, on Saturday 19th June 2021, The Severn Valley Pannier Tank Fund celebrated the 50th anniversary of the arrival of 5700 Class Pannier No L.95 (GWR No 5764) at the SVR (see June’s Express Points). The Fund’s Peter Hudson recounts the day:
The three surviving ‘panniereers’ - Columb Howell, Michael Wilkinson and myself - met for a reunion at The Engine House, Highley to celebrate and commemorate 50 years of L.95 as an SVR loco.
It was a momentous occasion to be reunited and in the company of our beloved 92-year-old loco. Engine House manager Nicky Freeman had kindly put more than 50 metres of gold '50’ bunting on the loco, its access steps, and the accompanying wall display ‘From London to the Severn Valley Railway’.
Step back 50 years in time, and on Friday 18th June 1971 I took many black and white photos at London Transport’s Neasden Depot. That morning, L.95 was being prepared for road transport to Bridgnorth station by Caudles. The weather was dull and overcast that day, so the photographs that I took lack the contrast and brightness that a sunny day would have afforded.
We attempted to recreate two of the photos that I had taken at Neasden 50 years ago, albeit without Dave Holroyd who had sadly passed on a few years ago, and John Hill who we lost earlier this year.
The different orientation of L.95 in the Engine House meant we couldn’t get the same viewpoints, but we did our best! A big thank you to Nicky for all her help and for giving us such a warm reception at The Engine House. Thanks also to Michael Wilkinson for coming, at short notice, all the way from north Wales.
Columb Howells added his recollections of 50 years ago:
“Michael Wilkinson and I were invited by the Mayor of Neasden to commemorate the end of steam on the ‘Met’ at a celebration party with London Transport management. The news that we had been successful in our bid to buy the loco was given to me on the telephone by Sir Gerald Nabarro at two minutes after midnight! Within four hours of arrival at the SVR, we had steamed 5764 and reached Hampton Loade.”
Click on the photos for full screen, uncropped images, descriptions and photo credits.
SVRH Annual General Meeting
The board members of SVR (Holdings) Plc have announced that they plan to hold an ‘in person’ Annual General Meeting, at St George’s Hall, Bewdley on the afternoon of Saturday 11th September 2021.
Exact timings and full information will be sent by post (or by email where possible to save funds) to SVRH shareholders in due course.
Trustee changes at the SVR Charitable Trust
The SVR Charitable Trust has welcomed two new SVR volunteers to its board at a time when it is strengthening and developing.
Keith Norton (pictured left) is a former management consultant and an experienced trustee and non-executive director. He brings to SVR significant experience at board level in the areas of managing change, business strategy and human resources. “I have been a volunteer at the SVR since 2017” said Keith. “Most recently helping Helen Smith with the new strategy for SVR. I was thrilled to be asked to consider becoming a trustee of the Charitable Trust, and I look forward to helping SVR with the next stage of its development.”
Tim Hargest (pictured right) is currently a vice president of Uniper, a major European energy generation and trading company. His professional experience includes the establishment and execution of major IT programmes, and the development and implementation of corporate strategy, particularly in a multinational and technological context. “I am absolutely delighted to join the board of the Charitable Trust,” added Tim. “I have been a heritage railway enthusiast and frequent visitor to the SVR since childhood, a member since my teens and a regular working member, as a signalman, since 2013. I am delighted to now be able to contribute to the development of the SVR utilising my professional experience and this role certainly provides that opportunity.”
Shelagh Paterson, the Trust’s director of development has thanked David Mead who retired after kindly serving for more than five years and helping develop its grants programme.
Catering team changes
As we move step-by-step out of government restrictions, head of food & beverage Simon Murphy has announced some changes in the catering team’s management structure:
We have sadly said goodbye to Rita Holland who has decided to retire after many years of loyal service. Rita loves the Railway and the team she worked with, and they will all miss her. Rita is well respected and loved across the SVR, and I wish her all the best! She received a rousing send-off from colleagues who gathered at The Engine House.
Lucy Kelly has joined as executive head chef, responsible for all food production across the line from the refreshment rooms to on-train dining. This position is totally new to the Railway and a mammoth task, so please don’t expect changes overnight!
Sally Ford moves from Bewdley to take up the role of catering manager for the Engine House and Bewdley. Sally is a very popular figure and will continue to be a tremendous asset in her new role.
At Kidderminster, Joe Basterfield is the new catering manager. Joe is a local lad and has a keen interest in the Railway. He worked for Stonegate Brewery for many years so he will bring a wealth of experience and be a great addition.
Paul Corner and Ashleigh Dodd have been promoted to duty managers for both the King and Castle and the Valley Suite. Rather than each being managed separately I thought it would be more prudent to amalgamate the two, and this will reap rewards, in time. Paul and Ash have made valuable input already into how the catering goes forward.
Rita Holland with Engine House manager Nicky Freeman. Tony Bending
Great Western Star
Express Points has been contacted by Rodney Pitt, the editor and publisher of Great Western Star. This is a new, online, quarterly magazine devoted to everything Great Western, and absorbed companies.
“I’m keen to build the circulation of our magazine among the railway preservation sector,” Rodney tells us. “And I wonder if you would kind enough to mention it to your readers?”
Your wish is our command, Rodney, as we think it may interest many! It covers the GWR from the 1830s to 1947, British Railways (Western) in all its guises through to the present day, the GWR in Preservation and finally the GWR in model form. Geographically, it covers the old GWR (including absorbed companies) from the Cambrian southwards and including the former Southern Railway in Dorset, Somerset, Devon and Cornwall.
You can view the first three copies of the online magazine at www.greatwesternstar.com
Autumn Steam Gala on sale
Tickets for the Autumn Steam Gala are now available, and are selling well, even though the names of the VIP visiting locomotives are still to be announced!
The event takes place between 16th and 19th September, and features many favourites from the home fleet and the return of all-night services.
Negotiations are currently underway to secure appearances by up to three special guests; as soon as the agreements are signed, the names will be announced.
GWR 813 will be double-heading with another locomotive and GWR Pannier 1501 will make its first enthusiast event appearance for 2021. They’ll be joined by GWR 7714, SR 34027 Taw Valley, BR 75069 and LMS 43106 the Flying Pig, which has the important task of hauling the overnight services.
A limited number of 100% discounted pairs of tickets are available to SVR shareholders on a first-come, first-served basis, and as we go to press, there is good availability of these.
Book your tickets at https://svr.digitickets.co.uk/category/34976 and to receive a shareholder discount of 100%, enter SH plus your shareholder number. This will ‘zero’ the balance payable on a table for two.
The Great British Staycation
Many people are actively rethinking their summer holiday plans, and the Severn Valley Railway has come up with the perfect offering for a great family day out. Throughout the school summer holidays, the Railway’s Great British Staycation excursion services will operate to attract visitors from across the Midlands and beyond.
Alongside traditional train services, there’ll be plenty of vintage fun to be had at The Engine House, including a huge indoor beach, interactive holiday-camp style shows, donkey rides and much, much more.
The services have been planned to appeal to a variety of different groups and maximise revenue at a key period for the Railway as we being to emerge from the pandemic.
It is hoped that the summer-long event will encourage repeat visitors of all ages, alongside regular supporters who continue to visit the SVR.
Please come and visit, bring your friends and family with you, and tell everyone you know what a fantastic day out they’ll have here this summer. As one of the SVR’s closest supporters, you can play a key role in helping to fill up our trains this summer, and helping the Railway amplify its appeal to more passengers.
Find out more and book tickets for the Great British Staycation at: https://www.svr.co.uk/SEItem.aspx?a=183
Volunteer project manager needed
The Railway is on the hunt for a volunteer with a project management background, who would be willing to assist in the clearing of SVR sites and property.
As part of the Target Zero project to drive down incidents and promote a positive safety culture, an emphasis has been put on the condition and housekeeping across all areas, including workshops, compounds, yards, depots and public facing areas.
In order for the SVR to fully manage this element of the project, it’s seeking a volunteer with a history of project management, who would be willing to dedicate time and effort in co-ordinating resources and personnel.
Starting with the Railway’s head office at Comberton Place, the aim is to remove all waste materials, old literature and paperwork, and to either destroy or recycle these, ensuring that the building is safe and fit for use.
Across the SVR, infrastructure lies unused along with unloved materials that have been awaiting restoration for more than 30 years. Needless to say, the only thing that’s being created is rust, and a home for wood-boring insects! Some of these materials can be weighed in for scrap, the proceeds from which can be returned to either the SVR or the working group to provide an increase in funds.
The volunteer project manager will be responsible for assisting in implementing a timeline and co-ordinating between paid staff and volunteer working groups to fully maximise any resources that may be required.
The SVR’s safety journey
As the SVR ramps up its commitment to safety, and a new, improved approach is adopted across the Railway, Andy Stringer, the Bewdley Safety Forum lead shares his thoughts on progress so far:
You can’t help but notice that safety is changing on the Railway. A couple of weeks back, I was up at Bridgnorth and saw the shed staff undertaking some work on Taw Valley’s whistle. A job of a few minutes, for which a ladder had been properly set up and tied off; something I’m sure wouldn’t have been the case a few years back. You can see in the way the teams operate that now, this is just normal practice; there’s no embarrassment or sarcastic remarks about safety, it’s just the way we do things. It might not seem like a big deal, but reducing the risk of someone falling off the running board makes a big difference, when you multiply it by the thousands of tasks we undertake every day.
The local safety forums will start in earnest over the next month, and you can expect to see the number of on-the-ground conversations about safety increasing. And they will be just that, conversations. Not criticism, nor mandating of pointless rules. Proper conversations, where we pause, consider what might go wrong and discuss how we prevent it. Stop, visualise, review. Easy conversations, with small actions repeated thousands of times, will have a big impact.
And that leads me to ask, where you are on your safety journey? As humans we all have an inbuilt belief that if we use common sense we’ll be fine, and the accidents of the past were just unlucky, they won’t happen to us. But luck and common sense have no part to play in safety; it doesn’t happen by chance. A very senior industry investigator told me that common sense is only what we all say was lacking after the event when discussing it in the pub. As humans we expect common sense from others, but are happy to take risks ourselves without thinking about it. It’s why we undo screws with kitchen knives, stand on swivel chairs to change light bulbs and drive above the speed limit.
The Railway is on a very important safety journey, which means all of us are too. Like everything in life, people will join in at different times and at different paces. We saw it with adopting mobile phones, you can track the progression from when no-one had one to the point where we nearly all have one. The difference with safety though is there will be a time when it isn’t acceptable to be the only one not onboard.
So next time you’re on the Railway, take a few minutes to Stop, Visualise, Review. Not hurting yourself doesn’t happen by chance, and it’s definitely worth a few minutes of your time to avoid it.
Wheels in motion for Vintage Transport Extravaganza
The Severn Valley Railway’s Vintage Transport Extravaganza for 2021 brings together three previously separate events – Steam on the Road, Classic Car Show and Vintage Bus – into one bumper weekend.
It’s all happening 7th-8th August, with steam rollers, vintage buses, classic cars, motorbikes and radio-controlled boats plus display runs from the road-rail ‘Plimsoll’ Land Rover.
For younger fans, there’ll be pedal cars provided by ‘Dinky Drivers’ at The Engine House – giving children the chance to be drivers for the day!
Tickets include a steam-hauled journey to each station – where a different kind of transport will be the star of each site.
Places are already 50% sold out, so if you want to visit during the Vintage Transport Extravaganza then get your tickets now!
You can find out more here: https://www.svr.co.uk/SEItem.aspx?a=108
In need of a ‘mindful’ moment?
Why not take five minutes with a cup of tea in hand, and put together this rather nice online jigsaw puzzle that we spotted, featuring a well-known SVR-based locomotive passing a well-known SVR signal box?
There are definitely worse ways to relax!
V1 8th July 2021
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Any opinions or views expressed in this newsletter are entirely the opinions of the contributors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Directors of Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) PLC. which owns the Severn Valley Railway, Severn Valley Railway Company Limited, the members of which are responsible for its operation, or the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust.