Lancaster Bomber and steam train pass at Victoria Bridge on 3rd June 2022. Keith Wilkinson
Welcome to your latest edition of Express Points!
News hot off the press is that the SVR has achieved national recognition for its resilience and innovation, scooping bronze at last night’s VisitEngland Awards for Excellence. It’s something else to feel good about after the fantastic four-day Jubilee event which drew thousands of visitors to see the officially launched No. 70 ‘Elizabeth II’ in all its glory.
The SVR Charitable Trust has launched its major appeal for 2022 which aims to raise £500,000 for essential restoration of the locomotive yard at Bridgnorth, and we look at the difficulties the Railway faces in securing new supplies of coal, and the measures that are being taken to mitigate against the impact of this.
We’ve updates from Bridgnorth MPD, the roof and crane project, C&W and a report on the Spring Diesel Festival with an enviable photo gallery of motive power! Plus news and information from many corners of the wonderful SVR. Thank you to everyone who’s contributed to this month’s edition of Express Points!
Lesley and Patrick, co-editors
The Express Points team is Lesley Carr, Patrick Hearn, Amy Baker and Nicola Fox
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National recognition as the SVR scoops top tourism award
Yesterday evening (Wednesday 8th June) the Severn Valley Railway was named as the winner of VisitEngland’s bronze award for Resilience and Innovation, beating off tough competition from visitor attractions across England.
Chairman Mike Ball and managing director Helen Smith (SVRH) along with Shelagh Paterson (SVRCT) and Michelle Bevon (SVR Company Limited) attended a prestigious ceremony at the Library of Birmingham, attended by representatives of tourist attractions across the country. The event was compered by broadcaster Clare Balding CBE.
Widely considered as the most coveted accolades in English tourism, the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence champion the very best of the country’s tourism industry, celebrating quality, innovation and best practice.
“To have received this recognition at a national level for Resilience and Innovation is something that every single one of us at the SVR should be proud of,” said Helen. “Since those first days of lockdown, we’ve faced countless difficulties in getting the Railway through the devastating impacts of the Covid pandemic. We’ve proved ourselves capable of more than we’d ever thought and this award acknowledges that achievement.”
“We’ve shown bravery, agility, resourcefulness and sheer determination,” added Mike. “We’ve overcome each and every difficulty that’s been thrown at us. Huge congratulations to our more-than-1,600 volunteers who along with members of paid staff have shown the Severn Valley Railway’s true resilience and innovation.”
Photo: L-R Michelle Bevon, Helen Smith, Mike Ball and Shelagh Paterson
Appeal launched for Bridgnorth Locomotive Yard
A major new appeal has been launched by the SVR Charitable Trust recently to fund the £500,000 restoration of Bridgnorth Locomotive Yard which is in desperate need of repair.
“The current track was laid in the 1970s using second-hand materials and, through extensive care, has lasted 50 years, which was much longer than might have been expected,” said Martin White, head of engineering. “However the end of its life is now rapidly approaching. Track work and points are wearing out fast, and drainage across the yard is clogged, accelerating the deterioration of the sleepers. If the track work deteriorates much further, locomotives won’t be able to get into the works for maintenance nor have access to the water, coaling and facilities used daily for locomotive preparation, which would have a severe impact on our ability to operate.”
Click on the leaflet image opposite to discover more about the restoration project, the four key phases and see a map of the areas that will be covered, and you can also read a detailed Q&A document to understand even more.
“We are so grateful to everyone who has made a donation so far,” said Shelagh Paterson, executive director for the Charitable Trust. “Over £25,000 has been raised for this vital project in just the first few weeks. Every donation will make a big difference by helping ensure that locomotives that rely on the yard can continue running.”
Find out more and donate at svrtrust.org.uk. Thank you for your support.
A right Royal day out
The SVR’s triumphant Platinum Jubilee celebrations opened in style on Thursday June 2nd, with the public renaming of 34027 as ‘Elizabeth II’ complete with its new number ‘70’.
Under sunny skies, and with a platform packed with onlookers, SVR Holdings chairman Mike Ball led the speeches, paying special tribute to carriage and wagon staff member Ronan O’Brien, who originally joined the Railway on a trainee scheme. “Ronan led the team very much hands on,” Mike said, “And hand painted this locomotive which I think you’ll agree looks magnificent. “
Managing director Helen Smith, Viscount Cobham and Mark Younger of Taw Valley Ltd, also addressed the crowd, before Mark revealed the name and fellow owner Nigel Barnes uncorked a bottle to christen the locomotive with a fountain of champagne, all to the sound of the engine’s unmistakable whistle.
Ticket sales were excellent, with nearly 5,000 visitors, exceeding the budget, along with an uplifted secondary spend. There was also extensive coverage on local and national news, including the BBC One Show. Post-visit survey results showed that 71% of visitors had come with the specific purpose of seeing the purple loco, and 41% of them had never visited the SVR before.
“Whilst this weekend was a little bit ‘out there’ when it comes to our usual heritage offer,” said Michael Dunn, head of visitor experience, “Consumer demand is changing and weekends like this one offered access to a new group of people who wouldn't usually come.
“I am confident they will return to the railway in future, and that we have engaged with a new generation and type of enthusiast.
“The publicity we have received will feed into a much bigger result over the coming weeks and months and allow us to fight against current short-term challenges and build a stronger foundation for our long-term aim, which is to continue raising funds to put back into the heritage preservation that the Severn Valley Railway is renowned for.
“Being brave enough to do something ‘different’ as a united SVR Family will benefit us in the long run. Thank you to everyone for your hard work, skill and determination. Without your efforts across all departments, and the valuable time you have given, the Jubilee event simply could not have happened.”
If you’d like to continue the Jubilee fun, check out this free online jigsaw of the purple locomotive: https://www.jigidi.com/jigsaw-puzzle/1gym6y5x/elizabeth-ii/?id=1gym6y5x
Hornby Magazine filmed throughout the event, and you can see a trailer for the documentary they are releasing very soon.
Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.
Taking stock, halfway through 2022
With the sounds of the Platinum Jubilee celebrations still ringing in our ears, and the prospect of a busy summer ahead, managing director Helen Smith takes time out to reflect on the considerable challenges that face the Railway:
Last weekend’s Platinum Jubilee Event, along with Open House and the Spring Steam Gala and Diesel Festival have seen impressive attendances, which is very heartening.
However, we are still in a period of uncertainty. I strongly believe that we must now plan for a ‘new normal’, and we are very much still learning how this will work! It is not a comfortable place to be and is not of SVR’s making, but it is the reality of the world we find ourselves in today.
Coal price and supply continue to be a problem for us, and the article which follows this one goes into more detail about how we are exploring ways of mitigating the impact of this.
However, I must emphasise that we are committed to running steam services on every day that we are open, as we know visitors want to see all of our heritage locomotives in action.
Diesel has also doubled in price and continues to rise, but not yet at the same rate as coal. With all these factors considered this means that the timetable will be staying as it is now with diesels integrated into the service for the foreseeable future. The new pricing conditions mean that some steam and diesel footplate experiences courses would be loss-making, which we cannot afford.
The diesel groups have really stepped up to support and we are delivering a minimum of a three-train service every day which is great for the visitor experience. I absolutely understand that there are disappointed steam crews out there and this is not an ideal situation, but the likelihood of it getting back to ‘normal’ in the short term is highly unlikely.
Please rest assured that we are constantly seeking to source and negotiate for coal supplies; this is no easy task to undertake for an operation of the size and complexity of the SVR. We are absolutely trying to do the best that we can under difficult circumstances.
Photo: Crowds view D1062 Western Courier (running as D1040) at Bewdley at the diesel gala on 20th May 2022. David Bissett
Coal price and supply continues to be a problem. The scarcity of this essential commodity and resulting price hikes make it very difficult to run a heritage railway sustainably.
At present there is no new material coming into the country and with limited new supplies the price is rising fast.
Coal is now more than three times the price the Railway was paying pre-pandemic, and further price increases are expected for the winter period.
Operating steam locomotives has become extremely expensive. Fortunately, the SVR was able to secure 200 tonnes of coal to run the high-revenue Christmas season, which can be bulked out with ovoids to avoid impact on services.
“In recent weeks the SVR has been using a mix of coal and ovoids,” said Martin White, the shed master at Bridgnorth. “This initially seemed to be working well in the fireboxes of our fleet, albeit generating more ash. However, towards the end of May and into the Jubilee weekend there were a number of unexplained occurrences of locos and crews struggling to maintain sufficient steam pressure. While this initially suggests problems with the ovoids, it might be something else.
“There hasn’t really seemed to be a pattern for this, as both small and large locos were stricken and some of the crews involved were senior/experienced hands. It would be easy to ‘blame’ the ovoids, but it could just as easily be a poor batch of coal, and a few drivers have suggested this. It’s worth reminding ourselves that there have been plenty of times in the past 50 years when the quality of coal has been variable and footplate crews have had to deal with very arduous conditions.”
In addition to the use of ovoids, tests have been conducted with eco-coal in controlled trials, using the same loco, same train and same crew. On each occasion the bunker on 1501 was completely emptied and refilled with the test product and each test was witnessed by a representative from the manufacturer
“At this stage it’s sufficient to say that one fuel performed better than the other,” reports Martin. “Neither test was a ‘failure’ as some useful data was gathered for the producer. Further tests, with a different blend are being scheduled.”
Photo: Not operating over the Jubilee weekend but dressed for the occasion is 1501 in Bewdley Station on 3rd June 2022, credit John Titlow. 1501 has been used in testing alternative fuels.
Reminder: SVR (Holdings) AGM
A reminder to shareholders that the SVR (Holdings) Plc annual general meeting will be held at 2.30 pm this Saturday, 11th June 2022, at St George's Hall, Load Street, Bewdley, DY12 2EQ.
AGM notices were sent by post and email in the usual way, together with the password for the protected documents and a 'Your Share' newsletter.
A webpage for the AGM is at https://www.svrlive.com/agm2022.
Impressive progress on the Roof and Crane project
Works on site are progressing with the main ground works for the crane bases now complete. The piled and cast bases are all concreted with the holding-down bolts in place ready for the crane steelwork. The only concreting left to do is the infill of road 2 to create a level floor slab throughout the shed, this will be completed by the end of this week.
“The roof is now substantially watertight,” explained volunteer project manager Antony Bartlam. “All the liner sheets are fitted and works are progressing on gridding out, ready for the insulation. The roof top sheet is also expected to be added in approximately two weeks’ time. By mid-July it is anticipated that the scaffolding will be coming down ready to start works on the wall cladding.”
The crane, a second-hand unit provided by AG Cranes, is currently being prepared ready for fabrication, and the installation will take place the week of 11th July, an exciting landmark in the project. The next step will be installing new LED lights throughout.
“The remarkable difference the translucent sheets have made to the light inside the shed is already apparent,” added Antony. “Paired with the new lighting, this will make a positive difference to the working environment. We’re really pleased with the progress; the works are still both on programme and on budget after five weeks of this 16-week project.”
Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.
Across the Railway
Kidderminster footbridge replacement work
Since the turn of the year Express Points has been reporting on this Network Rail (NR) project with the assistance of Chris Baines, an SVR volunteer who works for NR’s contractors Storey Construction Limited (SCL.)
“Since last’s month’s newsletter, work has slowed as the sub-structure elements near completion,” said Chris.
"Concrete was poured on the east (NR) side on the 23rd May with the shuttering removed on the 25th. The stair base was waterproofed before the earthworks work continued to build up to the required level.”
Meanwhile, the base for the new Distribution Network Operator (DNO) cabinet has been set out and the base cast. This takes the power from the national grid to feed lineside infrastructure. Chris added: “Getting the old DNO cabinet moved at the start of the project caused much of the delay to this project.”
Lifting in the new footbridge is awaited by many. “The superstructure is being fabricated and may be ready for the end of June,” said Chris. “No lift date has however been set, and the SVR and SCL are working together to ensure that it will go in as soon as possible, but without having a major impact on SVR services.
“The lift may not be possible until after the main midweek running season is over, due to the need to rebuild the crane pad. To do this, SCL will need to have construction plant close to the Up and Down Main, with both lines blocked while that work is carried out.
“The project team are looking to have the bridge in position before the Autumn Steam Gala.”
East pier staircase at Kidderminster June 2022. Chris Baines
New DNO location at Kidderminster June 2022. Chris Baines
Confidential H&S hotline
The safety committee are reminding staff and volunteers of the confidential reporting hotline first announced in the March 2021 issue of Express Points, as health and safety manager Richard Morris explains:
We’ve set up a confidential hotline 01299 406531 to allow anyone to report safety issues or concerns they have, using an anonymous system. You don't have to leave your name if you don't want to, but if you’d like to be contacted about the issue you’re reporting you should leave your name and contact details.
Whether you choose to give your name or make the report anonymously, we need to know what the issue was, when it happened and where it happened, as well as what your concern is and what you think could be done about it
Please DO NOT use this confidential hotline number to report an accident or emergency; this should still be done by the quickest possible means and followed up using FRM-0031.
Need a boost?
The SVR Company Limited’s (SVRG’s) Finance Committee are currently looking for volunteer projects to fund!
Whether in the planning stages or currently underway, volunteers can apply to the Finance Committee for assisted funding for SVR-based projects. Director of the SVR Company Limited and member of the Finance Committee Michelle Bevon said:
“We would love to hear from you if you need some additional funds for your project around the Railway. It doesn’t have to be a large project; we’ve funded everything from paint, tools and lawn mowers to working platforms and more over the years.”
The committee is also able to help fundraising on projects by assisting with the organisation of raffles, offering a boost to groups or projects looking to raise funds. To find out more email email@example.com for an application form.
Photo: Partly funded by the SVR Guarantee Company, mobile elevated work platform (MEWP) in use in Rock Siding, Bewdley on 12th July 2021. Brent Cleeton.
Turning strategy into reality
Following a comprehensive series of Strategy workshops earlier this year, attended by many volunteers and staff, managing director Helen Smith has outlined the next steps which will see various groups working on the ideas which were generated by the workshops.
A list of ideas can be found in the SVR Today channel in Teams – just click on ‘Files’ tab.
“Now we need to put the ideas into action, and it’s going to be up to each group to decide which ideas they want to pursue, and how they’ll prioritise these,” explained Helen. “You’ll look at whether a budget is needed and how this can be provided. You’ll work out whether you’ve got the skills and expertise within the group to take the idea forward and what the implementation timescale will be.
“A senior leader has been assigned to each group to help steer the activity, and ensure the connecting rod back through to the SLT (senior leadership team) and the Boards is upheld.
“The next stages are crucial to making sure that our Strategy moves off the page and into action, and every person has their part to play. Meeting and listening to everyone at the workshops was thoroughly enjoyable, and it was wonderful to discover that each session had brought together between 400 and 700 years of volunteering amongst the attendees!
“We’re building our Strategy on firm foundations and proven experience, and I urge everyone to get involved. It doesn’t matter if you weren’t able to attend one of the Strategy workshops, your contribution and skills are very much needed.”
Group and Senior leader:
Bewdley station - Richard Morris
Bewdley Yard - Richard Morris
Signalling - Bill Griffiths
Bridgnorth engineering - Martin White
Bridgnorth, Eardington and Hampton Loade stations - Chris Bond
Kidderminster Town station - Lesley Carr
Headquarters - Louise Whitehouse
Arley station - Louise Whitehouse
Commercial teams (including on train buffet) - Michael Dunn
Highley station and The Engine House - Michael Dunn
TTIs and guards - Steve Wainwright and Matt Robinson
Kidderminster engineering, including Diesel Depot - Duncan Ballard
Photo: Strategy workshop in progress earlier in 2022. Helen Smith
A busy month at Bridgnorth MPD
Major repairs, testing and running repairs; even when it’s without its shed, Bridgnorth MPD continues to be a hive of activity, as volunteer shed master Martin White reports:
After a dramatic failure during the Spring Gala, 813 has had its cab roof, bunker and buffer beam removed, to give access to the large casting in question. Despite what has apparently been reported elsewhere, the casting has not yet been removed, and it certainly hasn’t been 3D-scanned. Nor has the form of its replacement been decided (casting or fabrication.)
‘Welsh Guardsman’ has also suffered a casting issue. Investigation of a steam blow at the front end revealed that the cylinder block casting has failed, with a number of holes having been found in the live steam passages. This is simply down to age, erosion and corrosion, and examination shows the cylinder block to be beyond repair. Fortunately, our friends at the Mid-Hants Railway have recently been sourcing a new cylinder block for a similar Austerity saddle tank and they are assisting us with some indicative pricing of a replacement, so that we can advise the owner of the likely costs of repair.
More positively, the boiler of Stanier Mogul 13268/42968 is now undergoing hydraulic testing in the boiler shop at Bridgnorth. Its first out-of-frames steaming isn’t far off. A film about this loco will soon be released on the SVR's official YouTube channel.
In other exciting news, 4930 ‘Hagley Hall’ continues to have finishing and snag-list work attended to. A test steaming took place on 7th June within the confines of Bridgnorth where the engine performed well on several runs up and down the head shunt. The snagging list is getting smaller, and the finishing list is now focused on things required for after painting, such as pipe covers, safety valve bonnet, nameplates etc. Further trial steamings are also in the pipeline.
The running fleet is performing well, including 75069 and 2857 which have been away visiting other railway gala events. A boiler inspection on 2857 is scheduled with the hope that an extension on its ticket for the rest of the year will be approved.
No. 70 ‘Elizabeth II’ (previously 34027 ‘Taw Valley’) has been wowing the visitors in its temporary colourful livery, although she doesn’t seem to like the ovoid type of fuel, preferring a ‘diet’ with a higher lump coal content. Visiting 2999 ‘Lady of Legend’ has received some running repairs in between bouts of duty, especially after an injector overflow pipe came adrift, which required urgent attention. The black tank locos, 7714 and 1501, are continuing to be reliable little work horses, and 43106 is now predominantly allocated as ‘spare loco’ in order to keep its mileage down, as mechanically it’s now very tired!
As you can read elsewhere in Express Points, the building works on the main workshops are progressing well, on schedule and on budget. The impact on overhauls, repairs and operational running is however starting to show itself. With just one loco pit available there is at times some competition for its use between the various factions, but so far this has been resolved amicably!
Purple reigns supreme – limited stock available
The usual royal collectibles, such as commemorative plates, biscuit tins and tea towels, might not be the most exciting, but the SVR has something much better and definitely much brighter to tempt you!
During the bumper Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend that saw nearly 5,000 people visit for the SVR’s once-in-a-lifetime celebrations, purple-themed merchandise was flying off the shelves.
If you missed out on this limited-edition selection during your visit, there’s still chance to order through www.svrshop.co.uk or visit the SVR shops across the line, as there are still a small number of items available to commemorate the Jubilee and the purple locomotive No.70 ‘Elizabeth II’.
T-Shirts in two eye-catching colours, keyrings, mugs, postcards, metal signs and even hand-painted pin badges are all part of the bold purple collection, and are set to become royal collectors’ items in years to come.
Diesels own the SVR for four days in May
May’s Spring Diesel Festival continued the Railway’s successful 2022 events. Around 4,800 passengers attended, more than the last comparable event in 2019, and again produced a healthy profit.
Nine visiting locomotives and the home fleet made for an extensive range of motive power.
Late additions were Class 33 D6515 courtesy of 71A locomotives; 68003 ‘Astute’ courtesy of Direct Rail Services; and GB Railfreight’s 69005 ‘Eastleigh’, 73107 ‘Tracy’ and 73136 ‘Mhairi’. Jonathan Dunster, SVR (Holdings) deputy chairman and chairman of the diesels committee told Express Points: “We’re grateful for their assistance at short notice and particularly to GBRf for allowing us to host the first public run of a Class 69 on a heritage railway.
“Visitors 68003, 69005, D6515 and Class 44 D4 ‘Great Gable’ and home fleet Class 50s and 52s all proved really popular.”
On such large-scale events the line-up is subject to availability. Unfortunately, 67006 ‘Royal Sovereign’ was instead drafted in to haul a UK Railtours’ excursion from Paddington to Penzance. Gus said: “We thank DB Cargo for endeavouring to support us, and hope to work with them again on our next event.”
Class 20s from Michael Owen and Deltic 55009 ‘Alycidon’ were also unable to attend.
There was one minor failure involving D6515 on the evening of Friday 20th May (a broken pipe to the vacuum control circuit governor.) This was quickly attended to by the owning group’s support crew, ensuring it operated as planned on the subsequent two days.
Jonathan continued: “We’re already looking ahead to the Autumn Diesel Gala, which will feature heritage locomotives but no modern traction.
"More information will follow nearer the time, however Class 46 D182 is staying until after this event and we hope 55009 will join us in late summer too, in readiness. Put in your diaries the dates of 29th September to 2nd October!”
Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.
The High Sheriff of Shropshire visits the county’s ‘jewel in the crown’
During the Platinum Jubilee weekend, the SVR welcomed a very special guest, Selina Graham, the High Sheriff of Shropshire.
Selina and her husband Ian were hosted by managing director Helen Smith and director Michelle Bevon. They visited some of the stations located within Shropshire, travelled on board a train hauled by No. 70 ‘Elizabeth II’, and met many key volunteers on duty.
The High Sheriff is the Queen’s representative within the county, and during her year of office has chosen to focus on volunteering and highlighting organisations such as the SVR.
The visit clearly left a wonderful impression: “I so enjoyed meeting all the uniformed station and booking office staff, the signalmen, and women, and learning a little of their historic and current vital roles,” said Selina. “The loco crew, guards and ticket inspectors – all looking and talking the part so well. Their enthusiasm was infectious and the combined years of service as volunteers simply staggering.
“[The SVR] is a real jewel in Shropshire’s crown, and the purple train the icing on the cake for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations. It was a privilege to share them with you.”
Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.
SVR Wolverhampton branch meeting
The next branch meeting will be on Monday 13th June at 7.30 pm and will be a slide show by Alan Davies – ‘40 Years of Railway Photography’. The venue is the Old Wulfrunians Club, Castlecroft Road, Castlecroft, Wolverhampton and is open to all.
In April’s Express Points the committee announced they are ‘testing the water’ by holding meetings to determine the viability of the branch restarting a full programme in September. Please attend this meeting as a show of interest.
More details are on the branch website at http://www.svr-wolverhampton.org.uk/.
Photo: The Wolverhampton branch was the major shareholder in the Hinton Manor Fund, the first owner of 7819 Hinton Manor in preservation prior to its transfer to the SVR Charitable Trust. 7819 is seen here at Bridgnorth on 24th September 1978. John Sherratt
Ready, set, go for summer
With the Women’s Football World Cup and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games set to be the shining moments on our door step very soon, the SVR is joining in the fun and kicking off a packed season of fun with a ‘Summer of Sport.’
The Summer of Sport season will open with the arrival of the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay, hauled by No. 70 ‘Elizabeth II’ at the Railway on 23rd July.
Throughout the summer, the SVR will be running, jumping, throwing and of course steaming through, with a whole host of sporting family fun at The Engine House, Highley, hosted by the fantastic ReachOut Arts.
Think classic sports day fun – egg and spoon, tug of war and sack races – alongside challenges you may never have tried before – archery, golf – plus a whole host of silly interactive fun… who knew you could do synchronised swimming without water?!
Of course, the Railway will not be just gold, silver and bronze as purple locomotive No. 70 ‘Elizabeth II’ will continue its starring role, hauling services on selected dates throughout July and August.
Standard fares apply, and tickets for the summer season are available at SVR.CO.UK or by calling 01562 757 900. Ready, set, go!
Chris Proudfoot passed away on 24th May. Chris was in his 50th year of service and during his time with us he was a volunteer at Bridgnorth MPD and a leading light with a number of loco groups. We send condolences to his partner Jill and daughter Rhiannon. Chris will forever be associated with the 82045 Steam Locomotive Trust where he was instrumental in raising over £1 million, and the trustees have written of his vision, intellect, charm, decency and honesty. The Trust has issued a special news release, which includes an appreciation of Chris and details of his funeral and reception http://www.82045.org.uk/news/82045_news-special-june22.html Tony Massau
Doris Gunning began her SVR 'career' with us over 50 years ago. She was a stalwart of the Junior Club and raised funds for both the club and the LNER (SVR) Coach Fund. She also worked in the station gift shop at Bewdley. For the last few years, she had been afflicted by ill health which overtook her on 27th May. We send condolences to husband Richard and daughters Sue and Debbie. Richard Hill
Full obituaries will be included in SVR News in due course Barry Moreton, Volunteer Liaison Office
A grand day out
On 15th May, family and friends came together to celebrate Liz and Geoff Harsley’s 40th wedding anniversary with a day out in one of the Railway’s two observation saloons.
A fabulous day was had with good food, wine and beer flowing, the joy of sitting back and enjoying the Railway at its best in springtime. The party were lucky to be among the first passengers to travel behind 34027 'Taw Valley' in its purple guise.
Son Colin Harsley, himself an SVR carriage and wagon staff member and volunteer (of ‘a mere 20 years of service’!) told Express Points:
“Special thanks go to volunteer stewards Helen Griffin and Pauline Paddock who could not have been more helpful throughout the day. Another thank you goes to executive head chef Lucy Ann Kelly and the team behind the new menu for the ‘Obo’ (observation saloon.)
“Among the group were drivers, firemen, signalmen, carriage and wagon staff, guards, directors of both Holdings and Guarantee boards, Charitable Trust members and more.
Several have passed their golden anniversary for volunteering. Towards the end of the day, we came to a total of 617 years of volunteer service for the Railway, with a further 250 years of marriage between couples as well!”
The Express Points editorial team add their congratulations to Liz and Geoff.
For more details on how to book your own special experience on one of the SVR’s observation saloons please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 01562 757515.
New Deputy Chairman for SVRH
The SVR has announced that Jonathan Dunster has been appointed as deputy chairman of the Holdings Board, in a unanimous decision by the Board members. In his new role, Jonathan (also known as Gus) will be responsible for supporting the chairman and the managing director in leading the Railway’s new Strategy.
Gus has been a volunteer on the line for 30 years, and in 2010 he became a non-executive director. His full-time job is on the main line network as executive director for operations and safety at Avanti West Coast, and he’s also served in other roles on the main line. Gus is used to representing his company at senior director level at rail industry forums and with external stakeholders.
Chairman Mike Ball said, “We hope you will join us in congratulating Gus on his appointment and wishing him all the best as the Railway enters an exciting new future.”
Photo: Jonathan Dunster in the cab of 50031, credit Ted Dunster
CT rolling stock update
Progress is being made on a number of coaches, owned by the Charitable Trust, at the Carriage & Wagon Works in Kidderminster.
7960, the LNER Kitchen Composite, donated by Louise James, is partially complete and the Charitable Trust financed the fitting out of the pantry and kitchen. Substantial work was required to get to this stage including the modification of the cupola over the cooker and a change to the extractor fans. The coach is now ready for service.
In addition, works are underway on three coaches donated to the Charitable Trust by the LMS and BR Coach Fund.
2300, an LMS Corridor Third, needed work after both lavatory cisterns sprang leaks after 40 years of service at the SVR. The new tanks, which are on order, have been delayed due to a number of supplier issues, but 2300 remains in service with the toilets locked.
The Bridgnorth volunteer group is working on 25498, a BR Mk1 Corridor, in the paint shop. The door jambs – originally fitted in the 80s – had become rotten, so new timbers have been produced and fitted. Severe corrosion of the steel frames was also discovered and these had to be welded. All six doorways are being rebuilt, along with a large section of a lavatory roof. Repairs are nearing completion and a full repaint to carmine and cream will follow.
24617, an LMS Corridor Composite (1st and 3rd class), was due to enter the paint shop this spring, but was delayed so 25498 could be prioritised. The coach will be fitted with new door pillars and jambs. It will also be reupholstered with cloth that is already held in stock. A new toilet roof tank may also be required and an investigation will be carried out, when it reaches the paint shop, to confirm. The plan is to complete the work in time for the Christmas services.
Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.
Diesel ‘royalty’ at the SVR
Not wishing to be outdone by the renaming and purple repaint of 'Taw Valley', the SVR-based Western Locomotive Association decided to make its own diesel commemoration in honour of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.
In a short ceremony held at Kidderminster on Thursday 12th May, the first day of the Spring Diesel Festival, SVR resident Western No. D1062 ‘Western Courier’ was given the new identity of a long-lost classmate, D1040 ‘Western Queen’.
Roger Smith, chairman of the Western Locomotive Association, told Express Points, “The WLA thought it would be a good idea to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee with one of the Western names, and we chose Western Queen. It was built in 1962 at Crewe Works and it lasted until 1976 when most of the Westerns were taken out of service.
“Sadly, when the locomotive was 11 months old it was involved in a fatal crash at Dorridge, and so we have to pay our respects to the crew who lost their lives on that day, nearly 60 years ago.
“In a way, it’s quite brave to rename a loco like this, because everyone has an opinion about locomotive names, but we’ve done it properly, with both sides renamed with new plates.”
The renaming is only a temporary change, and Roger said that one of the name plates will be auctioned later to raise money for the WLA.
Click on the image to watch the SVR’s YouTube film shot at the renaming ceremony, in which managing director Helen Smith also highlights the very important role the diesel fleet is playing in the current coal supply crisis.
V1 9th June 2022
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