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June 2024

GWR Hall 4930 Hagley Hall passing Crossing Keepers Cottage on the 1415hrs from Kidderminst
GWR 4930 Hagley Hall passing Crossing Cottage on the 1415 from Kidderminster. KEVIN WHITEHURST

Welcome to your latest edition of Express Points!

With the main season now in full swing, the Railway is certainly a busy place right now! 

In your June edition of Express Points, we bring news of a new fundraising appeal to secure the SVR’s operational resilience, plus a reminder about the fantastic Supporters’ Day that’s being held in a couple of weeks to thank the Railway’s stalwart followers.  

We’ve also an early announcement about the first guest for the Autumn Steam Gala – a very popular and unique visitor that’s going to be around these parts for an extended stay! And we’ve a report on the smash hit that was May’s Spring Diesel Festival, with an impressive gallery of photographs. 

All this, plus many more news stories and interesting features from across the wonderful Severn Valley Railway. We hope you enjoy catching up with it all!  

Lesley Carr, editor

The Express Points team is Gary Essex,  Karen Crick, Amy Baker, Pete Cherry and Nicola Fox.

Next edition Thursday 11th July

What's new?

Launch of fundraising appeal to secure SVR’s resilience

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The Railway has announced a new fundraising appeal, aimed at supporting its operational resilience in the coming years. Called the SVR Resilience Fund, it is replacing the Survival Fund appeal, launched last year. 

‘We are indebted to everyone who supported the Survival Fund,’ said managing director Gus Dunster. ‘It raised a very substantial £500,000, and has helped us turn things around from what was, without doubt, a time of crisis. 

‘We’ve now wound up the Survival Fund, but there’s still a long way to go before we can say we’ve fully recovered. We’re going to need ongoing support to meet our running costs for some time to come, so that we can build the railway’s resilience and confidence, and safeguard assets such as rolling stock and infrastructure.’  

The SVR Company Limited is leading the new SVR Resilience Fund. It is a volunteer-run member of the SVR family of companies and is separate from SVR (Holdings) Plc, the train operating company.  

‘Because we’re a volunteer company, we’re able to keep overheads to a minimum,’ explained Diane Malyon, chair of the SVR Company Limited. ‘And that means we’ll be able to pass on to SVR (Holdings) every penny possible to support the Railway’s operational resilience, and to secure its future for many years to come.’ 

‘The costs associated with running a heritage line can be very high,” continued Diane. ‘For example, the Railway has to spend £500 on coal for a steam locomotive’s return trip along 16-mile line, and a new set of points will be an eye-watering £10,000.  

‘Those are some of the higher costs, but donations of all sizes will help, and will be very welcome. A ton of granite ballast costing £25 will stabilise the track for example, and with £50 we can buy three litres of specialist paint for a locomotive or one of our heritage carriages.’ 

‘We suffered a huge loss of income during Covid when we had to shut down for extended periods,” added Gus. ‘And the current cost-of-living crisis has damaged visitor numbers, whilst the price of coal, diesel, electricity and everything else we need continues to rise. 

‘We’ve made massive savings with scrupulous spending controls and by reducing our paid staff numbers, and we’ve found new ways of earning income by undertaking contract work for main line railway companies. But operating the SVR is a costly business, and we need every bit of help we can find right now. 

Next year, we’ll be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the SVR pioneers coming together to save this wonderful line. Will we be running in another 60 years? We think so, and we hope we’ll get the support we need to achieve that ambition.’ 

There’s more information at svr.co.uk, where you can also make a donation to the SVR Resilience Fund.  

Limited tickets remain for SVR Supporters’ Day

There’s still chance to secure complimentary tickets for the special SVR Supporters’ Day later this month on Friday 21 June, but numbers are limited in order to avoid overcrowding. 

The Railway will be open exclusively and free-of-charge to shareholders, members, working members and patrons or guardians* of the SVR Charitable Trust. 

Managing director Gus Dunster explained, “This is to express our gratitude to those who’ve stuck by the SVR’s side through the turbulent past few years, and during the challenges we continue to face. On the day, you’ll have the chance to travel the line on steam- and diesel-hauled services, and book onto behind-the-scenes tours.” 

 

Each entitled person/couple/family can bring one additional guest and places must be pre-booked at svr.co.uk/supporters-day/

And a reminder to shareholders that the following day, Saturday 22 June, the Annual General Meeting of SVR (Holdings) Plc will take place at 2.30pm, St George’s Hall, Bewdley. 

*Patrons are people who make a regular gift and guardians are those who have pledged a legacy in their will to the SVR Charitable Trust.  

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Saints alive! ‘Lady of Legend’ comes back for an extended stay

The Railway has announced that GWR 2999 ‘Lady of Legend’ is to make an extended visit, culminating in a guest appearance at the Autumn Steam Gala on 19-22 September. 

The Saint locomotive is the only one of its class in existence, and it caused a significant stir when it made its debut at the SVR’s Spring Steam Up in 2021, shortly after its rebuild. 

‘It’s wonderful to be welcoming back this popular visitor,’ said managing director Gus Dunster. ‘We are very grateful to Great Western Preservation Limited and Didcot Railway Centre to have the ever-popular Lady of Legend back with us, and we’re particularly pleased that this extended visit will allow so many visitors the chance to see and travel behind this unique locomotive.’ 

Dubbed the 78th Saint, the locomotive really is one of a kind, as it’s the only example of the Saint class in existence. It was rebuilt by the Great Western Society at Didcot Railway Centre, and was created using parts from 4942 ‘Maindy Hall’, one of the classes that was developed from the original Saint design.  

‘Lady of Legend' made its first heritage railway appearance at the SVR's Spring Steam Up in 2021. The locomotive proved such a crowd-pleaser then that the railway arranged a return visit for the 2022 Spring Steam Gala and Platinum Jubilee celebrations. 

 

‘Lady of Legend’ is expected to arrive on SVR metals by the middle of this month, and it will feature on the roster for summer services and the ‘Step Back to the 1940s’ events before starring at the Autumn Steam Gala. 

The SVR will announce operating dates for 2999 ‘Lady of Legend’ in due course.  

Click on the gallery for larger images and descriptions..

Spring Diesel Festival a ‘smash hit’

The SVR is celebrating the success of the Spring Diesel Festival, which drew more than 5,000 visitors to the Railway over four days in May, further cementing the SVR’s position as a leading provider of enthusiast events.  

 

Over 5,000 people travelled during the event, which was significantly in excess of expected passenger numbers, and the projected budget for secondary spend was similarly surpassed. Managing director Jonathan ‘Gus’ Dunster said: 

 

‘This was a well-planned and professionally delivered event and I’d like to thank everyone involved across the entire SVR for their hard work and dedication. There were a couple of operational incidents, and these were both extremely well handled, and the diesel engineering team dealt superbly with an issue with the Colas HST on Friday.  

 

‘Once more, I have been inundated by positive comments from visitors, volunteers, and staff regarding the ‘feel good factor’ and the overall quality of the event. Yet again, this has been a triumph that showcased our wonderful Railway at its very best. Again, thank you for everything you’ve done to make this event such as success – your input is very much appreciated. 

 

‘This event was made possible thanks to the wholehearted support of the SVR’s industry partners, and the Railway is grateful to GB Railfreight, Colas, Freightliner, Locomotive Services Group, 20189 Ltd and Eastern Rail Services.’ 

The Autumn Diesel Bash will take place between 3 and 6 October and promises to be another unmissable event. Tickets are available at svr.co.uk.  

Click on the gallery for larger images and descriptions..

What's coming up?

Staff summer social event 

GWR compartment stock stabled in the loop at Highley 18th August 2020. David Bissett (Copy

This will take place at The Engine House on Saturday 13 July, and is being partly funded by the SVR Company Ltd (the ‘Guarantee’ Company) and SVR Holdings Company Plc. 

The event is for paid staff and working members. Tickets are just £5 person, and each member of staff can bring a guest. 

Included in the ticket price is transport from either end of the line, hog roast/vegetarian option, disco/musical entertainment and free entry into the raffle with some very desirable prizes, including a stay at the Grange, Arley, cream tea for two at Dudmaston Hall and a subscription to TRACKSIDE magazine, plus many more. 

Drinks at the event will be subsidized using a token scheme (£2.50 for a pint of beer or glass of wine, £1 for a soft drink) 

The event is being organised by the Staffing Committee and visitor experience manager Nicky Freeman, who said:   

‘Rising costs and the need to keep finances under tight control mean we’re charging a modest fee this year to help offset costs. It promises to be a great night out. Plans are in hand to expand the event next year, but we need your support this year first – we look forward to seeing you there!’ 

For more information, including the timings of train services for the event, and to book tickets, please visit https://my.svr.co.uk/staffsocial . Ticket numbers are limited, so don’t delay!  

GWR compartment stock stabled in the loop at Highley 18th August 2020. DAVID BISSETT

A beer lover's paradise 

The weekend of 15 and 16 June at the Severn Valley Railway is set to be an irresistible draw for lovers of real ale, as the SVR hosts its first-ever Real Ale & Mixed Traction Festival. 

The Engine House, Highley, will host up to 20 real ales from all parts of the UK, alongside a busy service of steam and diesel trains. Visitor engagement manager Lewis Maddox said: 

‘We’ll have pale ales, dark stouts, and everything in between. This is the perfect opportunity for visitors to enjoy a day of heritage rail travel, and to sample some of the country’s finest real ale offerings. We’ll have plenty of food available including a BBQ to help make a full day of it.’ 

The SVR’s flagship steam locomotive 4930 ‘Hagley Hall’ will be in service, alongside Stanier Mogul 13268 hauling a matching rake of historic LMS carriages. On the diesel front, Class 37 37263 and Class 52 D1062 ‘Western Courier’ each run for 64 miles, as well as the DMU working local services. 

For more information including timetables and bookings, please visit svr.co.uk.  

75069 is seen at Tenbury Wall with the 3.25pm from Bridgnorth on 19th September 2020. IAN MURRAY

75069 is seen at Tenbury Wall with the 3.25pm from Bridgnorth on 19th September 2020. Ian

SVR seeks Kidderminster Town station memories 

Throughout the weekend of 27 and 28 July, the SVR will be celebrating 40 years since the opening of Kidderminster Town station, and the Railway is keen to hear from anyone who has memories of the station’s opening day in 1984. 

 

Forty years ago, the first heritage passenger service to operate out of the embryonic Kidderminster Town station heralded a very significant development for the Railway. Not only was the line now operational for 16 miles, all the way to Bridgnorth, but it was also much more accessible to visitors coming from Birmingham, the Black Country, and the wider Midlands area.  

 

The SVR is marking the occasion this July with a weekend of attractions, including the recreation of the very first train to depart from Kidderminster Town station on 30 July 1984. The inaugural service was headed by flagship locomotive, 4930 ‘Hagley Hall’ and in 2024 the very same loco has the honour of hauling the specially named ‘Kidderminster Venturer’.  

 

‘Opening up the line from Kidderminster made a huge difference to us in 1984,’ said managing director Gus Dunster. ‘Quite simply, it meant we were within easy reach of hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the Midlands, and beyond. The fact that Kidderminster also had a main line station really was the golden egg, as the SVR was infinitely more accessible to more people than ever before. 

 

‘We’d love to hear from anyone who remembers Kidderminster Town station opening in 1984. Especially if they’ve got a photograph from the day. We’re asking people to post memories and photographs on either Facebook, X, or Instagram, tagging in the Severn Valley Railway, so that we can share these with our followers.’ 

 

During the weekend of celebrations this July, there’ll be a commemorative ceremony on Saturday 27 at 12 noon before the departure of the Kidderminster Venturer. The service will also run at 12.30 on the Sunday. 

 

Additional attractions include a display of classic vehicles that would have been on the road in 1984, the chance for visitors to peek behind the scenes at Kidderminster’s signal box and carriage works, as well as rides in a brake van. Kidderminster Railway Museum will host a brand-new exhibition, telling the story of Kidderminster Town station, through memories and archive photographs. 

For more information and to book tickets, go to svr.co.uk.  

Click on the gallery for larger images and descriptions..

‘Allo 'Allo! It must be time to Step Back to the 1940s 

It’s time to get ‘in the mood’ for two rip-roaring weekends of 1940s fun. The Railway will be stepping back 80 years on the weekends of 29 and 30 June, and 6 and 7 July.  For the first time ever, the popular event will see appearances by original actors from the BBC TV series ‘Allo ‘Allo! 

In a spectacular and immersive event, the 16-mile line and all of its stations will host a festival of forties-themed fun, with steam-hauled trains, entertainment, dancing, food, displays, vehicles, costumed re-enactors and more, to whisk visitors back in time to the British home front in the 1940s.  

Visitors are being encouraged to dress up to the nines in 1940s outfits to get fully into the spirit of things! 

‘We’re very excited about our VIP guests, who are all original actors from ‘Allo ‘Allo!’ said volunteer organiser Dave Brattan. ‘During the first weekend, we’ll be welcoming Herr Flick, Helga and Lieutenant Gruber to The Engine House at Highley for a meet and greet with visitors, and on the second weekend, PC Crabtree, Flying Officer Fairfax and Flying Officer Carstairs will be ‘on duty’ to ensure everyone has a great time.’  

Along the line, passengers will have the chance to be part of the congregation at a 1940s wedding, bargain with black-market traders at a vintage marketplace, learn to jive at a dance class and listen to a rousing speech from Winston Churchill. There’ll be entertainment by singers recreating the glamour of the 1940s era, and authentic set-ups of period shops, homes, allotments and air-raid shelters at various locations, plus the much-loved NAAFI van at Bridgnorth. On 30 June and 7 July, there’ll be a flypast from the Lancaster Bomber of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, subject to operational availability and weather conditions. 

‘Keep tight hold of the ID card you’ll be issued with on arrival,’ advised fellow organiser Paul Bowler, ‘as the Military Police with be checking you’re not travelling illegally! And watch out for the spivs who’ll be trying to sell you all manner of illicit goods on the trains! 

Tickets can be purchased in advance or on the day.  Find out more at svr.co.uk.   

Click on the gallery for larger images and descriptions..

Step Back to the 1940s – Big Band Show

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Staff discounted tickets for the Big Band Show are now available

for this exciting event which will take place at part of the SVR’s Step Back to the 1940s weekends, on Saturday 29 June and Saturday 6 July. 

Each working member is entitled to one discounted ticket for each of the nights at just £5 each. There are a limited number of tickets for sale, so don’t delay in making your purchase. See NBI-H-1184, issued on 6 June, for the discount code. 

This is your chance to get in the mood with the 20-piece Kalamazoo Dance Band alongside special guests for a night of big band classics!   

Savoury or sweet, sweet or savoury? 

Whether you like savoury or sweet, or maybe even both, there’s a dining delight awaiting you this summer at the Railway! 

SVR dining experiences are always a popular choice and make for an unusual gift or treat. From Afternoon Tea, to the Spice Train, Gin Trains, Sunday Lunch or Pie Train, there’s something to please everyone who wants to splash out on some stylish luxury.   

This summer sees the return of the popular Fish and Chip trains. Teaming up with Captain Cod’s Fish Bar, the SVR invites you to savour a delicious meal of freshly prepared fish and chips while soaking up picturesque views from the comfort of a heritage train carriage. The first Fish and Chip Trains will depart from Kidderminster on Saturday 20 July.  

SVR members receive a 33% discount on their travel, which includes a ‘freedom of the line’ ticket. Additionally, the popular Travelling Tavern will be open on each train, selling cask beer to enhance the overall experience.  

The full dining-experiences calendar with details of all the above events is at svr.co.uk.    

People

Going the extra mile

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The SVR has launched a new scheme to reward staff who’ve gone above and beyond to keep the wheels of the Railway turning.  

The ‘Going the Extra Mile’ scheme allows you to anonymously nominate a colleague who you feel has made an exceptional effort. Both paid staff and volunteers are eligible.  

Each month, all nominations will go into a draw for a £20 voucher. This can be used to make purchases in participating SVR retail shops, buffets, bars, and can also act as part-payment towards tickets to travel, dining experiences, and footplate experiences. The first draw has taken place and the winner is Sue Wilson, nominated for her 'incredible work at Bridgnorth Refreshment Rooms'! Subsequent draws will take place on the 11th day of the month.  

In addition, there will be a quarterly draw for an SVR experience or gift voucher, the first of which will take place in August alongside the monthly draw. Visitor experience manager Nicky Freeman said: 

‘We launched this scheme as a way to say thank you to the hardworking staff who go above and beyond. Anyone can nominate a colleague for their exceptional efforts, so get nominating and let's show our appreciation for our hardworking colleagues!’ 

To nominate a colleague either use the online form or email extramile@svrlive.com, providing the name, department, and a brief description of what they did (during duty on the railway.) 

All entries into the draw are numbered and an online random number generator will select the winner.  

Celebrating volunteers and boosting the numbers

National Volunteers Week took place earlier this month and the SVR took the opportunity not only to celebrate its existing team of dedicated volunteers, but also to reach out and engage with potential new recruits. 

A mini-campaign of social media posts appeared across Facebook, X and Instagram throughout the week. 

‘We’ve received a good response,’ said Neil Limbrick, co-chair of the SVR Company Limited’s* staffing committee. ‘The hardworking volunteer-liaison office team are currently talking to those who’ve come forward, to find out what roles would appeal to them and match them with areas where we need more volunteers.  

‘It’s very important to keep renewing the volunteer team, as inevitably people may want to step back as they get older, or because they simply move on. The Covid pandemic, unsurprisingly, wasn’t great for our volunteer base, and by strengthening the numbers, we lessen the pressure on our existing, dedicated band of working members. 

‘Please encourage your family and friends to come forward and find out more about volunteering for the SVR. There’s more information at svr.co.uk, including contact details for the volunteer liaison office.’ 

*The SVR Company Limited (often referred to as the ‘Guarantee’ company) looks after SVR membership and is responsible for working members/volunteers at the Railway.  

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New team members on board 

The SVR has welcomed two new members of paid staff to the infrastructure department. 

 

Paul Ingram will take up the role of permanent way manager, coming to the SVR from a senior-controller role in Balfour Beatty. Paul started at Balfour as a platelayer many years ago and has since built up an extensive portfolio of track-related experience on both London Underground and the national network.  

 

Also joining the full-time staff as the new signal engineering assistant and track worker will be Wayne Shingler. An active volunteer at Bridgnorth for eight years, Wayne has gained considerable experience, including footplate duties, JCB driver, pattern making, permanent way and engineering. Head of infrastructure Chris Bond said:  

 

‘Wayne has volunteered for the SVR for many years, and we're delighted to welcome him onto the full-time staff. It's also a pleasure to welcome Paul, who'll be spending his first few weeks getting familiar with our 16 miles of railway. Filling these two key posts will make a huge difference to the Railway. Please look out for Paul and Wayne in the coming weeks as they get out and about on the Railway, and I'm sure you'll make them feel very much at home.’   

WAYNE SHINGLER, signal engineering assistant and track worker

PAUL INGRAMS, permanent way manager

Paid permanent way vacancy at the SVR

The Railway currently has a vacancy for a permanent way track foreman. Based at Highley, this role will: 

  • Support the permanent way manager in carrying out a wide variety of duties in the inspection and maintenance of the Railway’s permanent way. 

  • Carry out the day-to-day supervision of the Permanent Way team. 

More details at svr.co.uk. Closing date for applications is 28 June.  

The permanent way team in action at KR 42 points. Brent Cleeton.jpeg

The permanent way team in action at Kidderminster. BRENT CLEETON

In memoria

Roy Baker Some 50 years ago, a young man decided to become a volunteer with Severn Valley Railway and his input over the many years he was with us embraced, amongst others, Permanent Way, MPD, Carriage and Wagon and Train Crew (Guards). Regrettably, Roy has passed away after a long illness.  

A very conscientious, dedicated volunteer, Roy applied his skills thoroughly and quietly and in his later years with us, he demonstrated these talents after deciding to become a guard, until he retired in 2017. 

We send condolences at this time to wife Lynda and the family. Roy’s funeral took place at Woodlands Cemetery and Crematorium, Coleshill, on Wednesday 15 May, followed by a reception at Marston Green Social Club, Coleshill Road, Marston Green, Birmingham to which all Railway friends were invited, to remember a very valued friend and volunteer. Barry Moreton, VLO 

 

Trevor Daw A member of the Severn Valley Railway since 1971 and a volunteer for over 50 years, many of which were with the DMU group.  Sadly, we have to report that, following a long illness, Trevor passed away on 21 May 2024, and we send condolences to wife Ruth at this sad time. Barry Moreton, VLO 

Eric Fawthrop After retiring from the Foreign Office in his 50s, Eric moved into a hotel in Kidderminster to be near his beloved SVR, and around 1979 applied to become a volunteer in the booking office. 

At the outset his manner on the intercom was, quite rightly, authoritative, providing guidance to passengers for every occasion. One particular instruction, remembered by all his colleagues, was for passengers moving to the Kidderminster main line station, and included:  

‘Upon leaving the SVR station turn right and walk diagonally across the static frontage towards BR.’  

 

During his time with us, Eric became a Methodist preacher in the local churc where his congregation, including many SVR volunteers, recall him with fond memories to this day.  

His colleagues at the Severn Valley Railway and the church speak with one voice when they describe Eric as a professional, gentle man, always willing to proffer advice when appropriate.  

A celebration of his Eric’s life following his passing took place on 15 May at Solihull Methodist Church. Barry Moreton, VLO 

 

Keith Hall had a long and distinguished service with the SVR as a driver, and we are sad to advise that he passed on 2 June following recent ill health.  

His presence with us will always be remembered by those who had the pleasure of volunteering with him including his family to whom we send heartfelt condolences at this unhappy time.  

Keith’s funeral will take place at 2.30pm at Wyre Forest Crematorium on 20 June followed by a reception at Hartlebury Castle. All are welcome and the family have requested firstly that mourners do not wear traditional black funeral dress as the day will be a celebration of Keith's life and secondly to kindly advise ian.walker@svrlive.com of their intention to attend either the funeral, reception or both. Barry Moreton, VLO 

Janet Sturt It is with deep regret that we have to report the passing of one of Bridgnorth station's most dedicated volunteers. During her time with us, Janet became a stalwart of the station, constantly seeking ways of helping both the station and the Railway in general. These included regular appearances fully disguised in a reindeer uniform as Rudolph at Arley Station and more recently at Bridgnorth.  

She helped in many ways to raise funds for the station by arranging raffles and other events, and volunteered in the station bookshop where she became a firm favourite of young and old visitors.  

With her passing, a void has been created in the social fabric of Bridgnorth station and she will be sorely missed. Our thoughts are with husband Bill and the family at this time. Funeral details will be announced when known. Barry Moreton/Alan Thwaites  

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

Across the Railway

More concerns at Sterns 

The issues with ground movement at Sterns continue to cause issues for the Railway. Although it installed tilt monitors in February, along with more recent blue ground-alignment markers that are visible from the train, these only monitor movement in the near-surface soils. The slip plane for the movement in this area generally is located far deeper, at around 20 metres. 

The Railway's volunteer structural engineer Antony Bartlam explained the latest developments: 

 

‘To better understand the movement, and get advanced warning of more major slips, we decided to install boreholes to monitor the movement more accurately. A specialist contractor, Ground Investigation Specialists, drilled through the rock to a depth of 23 metres to install the boreholes and provided technical assistance with the geotechnical aspects.’ 

The restricted access to the Sterns site needs a multi-departmental effort to facilitate the delivery of machinery to site, with both the operations and permanent way departments facilitating the operation.   

The Commancio tracked borehole drilling rig, weighing around 2.5 tonnes, along with a trailer-mounted air compressor and other equipment was transferred to the line at Eardington Station by one of the Railway's road rail vehicles before being moved to site. The process also used several thousand litres of water, which arrived on site in bulk water containers, borrowed from the weed-killing train.  

The works took four days to complete. Because there was no space in the timetable to allow it to happen outside of running days, operational measures were put in place to allow the work to overlap from non-running days into two running days, including the use of a site warden, who monitored the worksite to ensure safe distances were kept between the staff and running line.  
 
‘Thanks to Matt Robinson and all the permanent way staff who made this project possible,’ added Antony. ‘It means we can continue essential monitoring, so that we can better predict and understand the ground movement in this area.’   

The bore hole at Sterns ANTONY BARTLAM

New ESMP office saves costs

After over a decade of use, the SVR has vacated the rented premises at Bridgnorth known as the Graham Hill Building, as part of a cost-saving measure.  

 

Since the early 2010s, the SVR had occupied the Graham Hill Building to accommodate the ESMP (Engineering Services Motive Power) offices, mess, and meeting room. SVR (Holdings) Plc paid the rent for these facilities. However, after recent changes to the locomotive overhaul strategy and following the refurbishment of the loco works and a reduction in office and ESMP staff, the Railway has been able to vacate these premises.

 

The new office for the head of steam engineering and the ESMP office manager is located on Platform 1 at Bridgnorth Station, utilising a company-owned space. 

 

Duncan Ballard, the head of steam engineering, said, ‘I would like to thank all the staff and volunteers who have responded positively to this required change and contributed and assisted in returning the former premises to suitable condition for handback to the landlord. Any future cost savings and improvements will always be considered as the company continues to be strict on costs and expenditure.’  

Karen Bromell and Duncan Ballard outside the new ESMP office on Bridgnorths platform 1.jpg

The move is part of the SVR’s overall strategy to reduce costs and ensure the Railway’s financial stability, and it will save the Railway a five-figure sum each year. The SVR has made further cost savings by changing the security provider to Bridgnorth station and works. 

In addition to the new office space, a new staff welfare area is available upstairs in the boiler shop building, in the original location it occupied when the building was built in 1989. Discussions are currently ongoing about provision for a training and meeting room.   

Karen Bromell and Duncan Ballard outside the new ESMP office on Bridgnorth's platform 1

Wanted: milk churn for 08 Group fundraising

Renowned railway man Dick Hardy (on left) with some of the 08 Group in front of restored C

For several years, Trev Tomkins, of the 08 Group, has been fundraising for the diesel shunter fleet maintenance and operating costs with a sales stall on Kidderminster station concourse. The table, stocked with his personal photos and books has seen a regular income. Sadly, a few weeks ago thieves stole both the table and the cash box that was secured to it. 

 

‘The incident was captured on CCTV,’ Trev told Express Points, “But the police have not apprehended the culprits or recovered the stolen items. 

 

‘We’re now seeking a milk churn that we can adapt as a cash box, and physically attach to the station fabric to make it more robust. If you have a milk churn available and are willing to donate it to us, please let me know.’ 

 

Contact Trev on snikmott@outlook.com  

Renowned railwayman Dick Hardy (on left) with some of the 08 Group in front of restored Class 09 D4100 (09012) ‘Dick Hardy’. 08 GROUP

New accessible toilet facility at Bewdley 

A brand-new accessible toilet and baby-changing facility is now in place at Bewdley station, located next door to the volunteer liaison office. 

This has been funded by grants obtained by the SVR Charitable Trust from the Rowlands Trust and the Saintbury Trust.  

‘I’m delighted with these new improvements,’ said Bewdley’s stationmaster James Pearson. ‘This makes our station site even more accessible for visitors. Many thanks also to the builders involved, Twin Oaks Ltd, who kindly donated a door, free of charge, to the project.’  

The new disabled toilet at Bewdley station JAMES PEARSON

‘Rail and Ride’ at Bewdley Bike Week 

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The Railway hosted dozens of cyclists during the May half-term holiday as they took the 10.15 departure from Bewdley to Hampton Loade, then after cycling to Arley, caught a train back to Bewdley. 

It was all part of the eighth annual Bewdley Bike Week event and proved a huge success with the 67 cyclists who took part across the five days of the event. 

‘Feedback from them has been universally positive,’ said Malcolm Garner of the Bike Week planning group. ‘Many of them said how helpful the SVR staff had been, at the ticket office in Bewdley, and on the platforms there and at Hampton Loade and Arley.’ 

Working with the planning group, SVR visitor engagement manager Lewis Maddox was able to arrange for the LNER set with its large pigeon van to be on the diagram for the week, which made carrying multiple bikes much easier. Each day the loco carried a ‘Bewdley Bike Week’ headboard, a nice touch, which was very much appreciated by those taking part. 

‘The event was a great success,’ added Malcolm. ‘Not only did participants enjoy themselves, but I think it generated a lot of positive publicity for the Railway! Please pass on our sincere thanks to all the staff involved.’  

Rolling stock

Busy times for Bewdley yard

It may sometimes seem that vehicles in Bewdley yard never turn a wheel, but on Friday 7June, a major and complex shunt took place involving arrivals and departures from Kidderminster and the repositioning of several vehicles, as Bewdley yard master Clive Thompson explains: 

 

The motive superpower for the workings to and from Kidderminster was provided by Class 20 diesels 20007 and 20205, whilst the trusty Ruston 319290 carried out most of the shunting at Bewdley.  

A notable change was GWR Collett coach 9581, which has been under conversion to a wheelchair-accessible coach by the LNER Fund group under Richard Gunning, and which left for Kidderminster for mechanical work and painting. GWR Mink G covered goods van 112889 was promoted to the spot vacated by 9581 and will become Richard’s next restoration project. This will be assisted by the arrival from Kidderminster of GWR Riding Van 118, which is to be used as a stores and workshop. 

 

Meanwhile, another coach undergoing major restoration, (this time by the GW(SVR) Association, under Mick Haynes), was relocated to a new position. GWR Collett coach 4786 has been receiving attention since 2018 and has now been placed ready for entry into Bewdley workshop for roof work. Its place has been taken by GWR Siphon G van 1257, which is undergoing remedial bodywork repairs. 

Also arriving from Kidderminster for bodywork repairs was BR Mk1 coach 1853, which had to be temporarily stabled on the ‘Rock’ siding, awaiting space in the yard. 

The shunt took most of the day and had to be interleaved between the new Footplate Experience service and a Kidderminster to Bridgnorth ECS (Empty Coaching Stock) working. The final move of the day saw the impressive sight of 20205 shunting a loose-coupled rake comprising diesel 37308 and 15 wagons to reposition the Class 37 for onward movement to Kidderminster.  

  

This was a complex shunt, but the day ended on a high with the shunt of the loose-coupled rake and by 4.30pm, everything was in its new position or back where it started! The shunt was a perfect example of the excellent co-operation across operational roles that, for both paid and volunteer staff, is a strong feature of the SVR.  

Click on the gallery for larger images and descriptions..

Ninety-five years young! 

Driver Adrian Hassall and fireman Mark Writtle get ready to celebrate with Hagley Hall at

On 25 and 26 May, the SVR celebrated the 95th birthday of one of its most cherished steam locomotives, 4930 ‘Hagley Hall’. 

 

‘Hagley Hall’ was rescued from the cutter’s torch at the famous Woodham’s scrapyard in Barry in 1973 and brought to the SVR. After restoration, it entered service on the line in 1979 and became established as the SVR’s flagship loco five years later, when it hauled the inaugural passenger train out of the embryonic Kidderminster Town station. However, the SVR withdrew it from service in 1986 after several boiler stays failed, and it was nearing the end of its 10-year boiler ticket.  

 

Returned to steam in 2022, the locomotive has since been making up for lost time. Visitor experience manager Nicky Freeman said: 

 

‘After such a long period out of steam, we were delighted to take this opportunity to honour Hagley Hall’s 95th birthday with some very special passenger services. The atmosphere was suitably festive, and whether riding on a service train or enjoying one of our premium afternoon teas, our passengers were able to celebrate this special locomotive’s birthday in style!’  

This July, ’Hagley Hall’ will re-enact history, with special commemorative trips on the weekend of 27 and 28 July, when the SVR marks the ruby anniversary of the opening of Kidderminster Town station. See separate article in this month’s Express points, and for more information visit svr.co.uk 

Driver Adrian Hassall and fireman Mark Writtle get ready to celebrate with Hagley Hall at the SVR.   NICKY FREEMAN

Precision engineering at Bridgnorth MPD

New-build BR Standard 3MT Tank 82045 has taken a major step forward at Bridgnorth Motive Power Depot, as volunteer shedmaster Martin White reports in his June shed notes: 

 

A trial fit of a boiler, whether it’s newly constructed or heavily repaired, such as on Stanier Mogul 13268 or ‘Hagley Hall’ 4930, is a key step in the assembly of a locomotive. Although in most cases, original detailed engineering drawings exist of boilers and locomotive frames, it can't be assumed that everything will just fit easily together. When you’re replacing significant sections of boiler plate or barrels on repaired boilers it would only need one component to be a fraction of an inch out of place, for issues to arise with the fit-out. 

The 82045 Steam Locomotive Trust reached a major milestone on Monday 3 June, when the brand-new boiler was trial-fitted into the locomotive frames for the first time. The Trust reports that the boiler fitted very well and after a small amount of adjustment, it was removed from the frames for further work towards completion, including the final joining of the barrel to the firebox and smokebox. All the tubes are on-site, ready to be fitted towards the end of the summer, with the aim of it undergoing testing towards the end of the year. 

On numerous occasions, I’ve looked in awe at what SVR engineering staff have accomplished, and this is especially the case in the boiler shop. Imagine that you are looking at a large sheet of thick copper plate, which has been pressed and shaped to what you understand to be the correct curves and radii in three dimensions. You have checked it and measured it multiple times.

Then you start to mark on this plate the centre points for hundreds of holes that you need to drill for the boiler stays (which hold and support the inner and outer firebox plates.) These holes run horizontally and vertically in very precise positions. Once you’ve marked them all out, and checked and double-checked that everything is correct, you start the laborious and repetitive task of drilling the holes.  

That piece of copper probably cost a five-figure sum when purchased and the supplier’s lead-time is counted in months. There really isn’t very much room for any error, which could become very expensive. Suffice to say, that in this regard, the sort of person who measures it and drills the holes is a cleverer and braver man than me! They repeat the process with more platework and start to assemble the pieces, bolting and then riveting the plates together.

Meanwhile another engineer manufactures the hundreds of stays that hold it all together. The boiler barrel and smokebox have holes drilled for bolts and eventually rivets to fasten them to each other, and the barrel to the firebox. It’s little wonder that a trial-fit is deemed necessary, and it’s a major wonder, to me at least, how anyone can build it in the first place. Bear that in mind when you first see 82045 in steam!   

82045's boiler being lowered into the chassis. TONY MASSAU & 82045 TRUST

82045's firebox during construction phase before the barrel was trial-fitted, with some of the many stays visible. MARTIN WHITE

Other news

The SVR remembers – D-Day ceremony with Bridgnorth Town Council

Last week, the Railway joined with Bridgnorth Town Council to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings. 

On Thursday, 6 June, a commemorative beacon was lit on Pan Pudding Hill, symbolising the bravery and sacrifice of those who took part in this pivotal moment of World War Two. 

This was clearly visible from two locations; the grounds of Bridgnorth Castle and the station platform. 

This was a chance for the local community to come together to honour the courage of the military personnel who took part 80 years ago and to enjoy a memorable evening. 

Picnics took place in the Castle grounds, and the Railwayman’s Arms served refreshments until 10pm. 

Bridgnorth mayor, Councillor Ian Wellings said, 'I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to each and every one of you for attending our D-Day 80th Anniversary event last night. Your presence and support made this commemoration truly special.  

‘I am very proud that Bridgnorth is participating in commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Normandy Landings. The Town Council are honoured that the Severn Valley Railway joined in partnership with us for this event. It is so important that these momentous occasions, and everyone who took part in them, with thousands paying the ultimate sacrifice, are never forgotten.  

‘A big thank you to Chris Thomas, the Severn Valley Railway Station Master, for all your efforts and contribution to this event.’  

D Day beacon on Pan Pudding Hill, Bridgnorth. BRIDGNORTH TOWN COUNCIL

Bridgnorth mayor Cllr Ian Wellings, Pauline Wellings and stationmaster Chris Thomas at Bridgnorth station. BRIDGNORTH TOWN COUNCIL

v1 13th June 2024

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