2017 Diesel Gala on 19th May - Class 14 & 17 double head a train to Bridgnorth, seen here entering Bewdley. By Ian Murray
Welcome to your latest edition of
Welcome to the June edition of Express Points. Now that the 2017 operating season is fully underway, we’ve a report from last month’s Spring Diesel Festival, and some fantastic news from the SVR Charitable Trust which is celebrating its success in raising £1 million to invest in its endowment Future Fund. Whether you’re a social media lover or hater, there’s no denying that it's a very powerful tool and we report on how the SVR is positioning itself at the forefront of online communication. We have got loads of updates, news and views from around the Railway.
Please let us know what’s going on where you are, so we can include it in next month’s Express Points, and remember to include a photograph! You can email us firstname.lastname@example.org or drop us a message on Facebook!
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Simon Turner & Lesley Carr, Co-Editors
Picture by Ian Murray
Charitable Trust hits the £1 million jackpot!
The SVR Charitable Trust has announced that it has met the Heritage Lottery Fund’s £1 million fundraising challenge. HLF pledged to match every pound donated to the Trust’s endowment Future Fund, to reach a total of £1 million.
The offer was due to expire at the end of this month, but more than four weeks ahead of the deadline, the Trust received the final and much-anticipated donation that took the amount raised to the £1million mark.
A £400 cheque from lifelong SVR supporter Richard Hill (pictured) tipped the scales; after Gift Aid and HLF match funding, his donation was boosted to £1,000 for the appeal. Richard has been a volunteer and fundraiser at the SVR for 24 years, and said the long-term aim of the appeal attracted his interest:
“I’m very happy that my money, along with the other donations, is going to be invested in the Charitable Trust’s endowment Future Fund. It will generate income to support all kinds of restoration projects. I see this as helping to secure a viable future for the Railway, and I like the forward thinking behind it. I really believe that since it was established in 2012, the SVR Charitable Trust has been transforming fundraising on the Railway.”
Re-acting to the achievement, Charitable Trust Chairman Hugh McQuade said:
“We are delighted with this success, and have been inspired by the passion and generosity of all our supporters. Thanks to the opportunity HLF has given us, we’ve kick-started our endowment Future Fund. With the first £1 million in place, we’re now in a position to make a real commitment to the future of the Railway, to help fund the essential maintenance and restoration work on its rolling stock and infrastructure in the years to come.”
There have been thousands of donations to the appeal since it began in 2014. Some people signed up to give a regular amount on a monthly basis, others chose more unusual ways; one group of friends handed over the remains of their beer kitty after a day out on the Railway, and another supporter raised money by making and selling a valuable model locomotive.
Although the first £1 million is now secured, as Hugh explains, that’s only the beginning:
“Our ultimate goal is to raise £10 million for the endowment Future Fund, as we believe that would produce enough income to alleviate concerns over the Railway’s future. Although the HLF match funding has now reached its limit, we can still claim 25% extra Gift Aid on donations, and I encourage people to continue to donate to the SVR’s future wellbeing.”
The Charitable Trust’s Director of Development, Shelagh Paterson added:
“Now we’ve secured this £1 million for our endowment fund, we’ll be focussing on supporting the Bridgnorth Development Project. We’ve already raised £40,000 for this, and are seeking further donations. These can be ring fenced for Bridgnorth, and will also attract an extra 25% Gift Aid at no further cost to the donor.”
AGM for SVR-G on 8th July
The Annual General Meeting of the Severn Valley Railway Company (the ‘Guarantee’ Company) will take place on Saturday 8th July at 7.30 pm in Castle Hall, West Castle Street, Bridgnorth.
Making the announcement, SVR-G Chairman David Williams also invited nominations from members for directorships, and asked for these to be made in writing, signed by both the proposer and the nominee, and sent in a secure envelope, clearly marked ‘AGM Nomination’ to:
Mr D L Mellor
3 Frederick Road
Nominations should be received not more than 56 and not less than 35 days before the AGM, ie between 13th May and 3rd June.
“We usually include a brief printed CV of each nominee with the Annual Report and Accounts and AGM Notice. If a nominee would like this, we must have their nomination and CV at least 42 days before the AGM, (27th May) so that the Secretary can process it and ensure uniformity within the documents. Please keep CVs to a maximum of 200 words.
“Additionally, we would like to ask Members not to send in proxy forms for the AGM by recorded delivery or registered post. This is because the Secretary is not always at home to receive them, and faces a time-consuming trip to the sorting office as a result. In this case, it’s clear that ‘best’ is ‘worst’!”
Diesel Festival success!
It’s been 30 years since the first diesel gala at the Railway, and last month’s Diesel Festival featured a wide variety of traction, from heritage diesels through to DRS's 88003, the most modern bi-mode locomotive operating on the mainline network.
The weather, on the whole, was kind, and with an impressive selection of stands at stations, brake van rides at Highley and intensive running through the three days, there was a strong buzz of enjoyment in the air. Despite some minor signalling issues that were soon rectified on the Saturday morning, the event ran smoothly.
SVR Director and Chairman of the Diesel Committee Jonathan Dunster paid tribute to the huge effort that went into the organisation of the event:
“It takes a significant amount of hard work behind the scenes to arrange visits of diesel traction and rolling stock, plus the huge task of rostering turns and operating the services. We needed to fully staff the Engine House, the stations, and the catering and retail outlets, and to ensure maintenance teams were ready, just in case repairs were needed. To everybody involved, your supreme efforts were much appreciated. The results were there to see on the smiling faces of our visitors and the compliments they gave. It really was a superb event.”
General Manager Nick Ralls added:
“We’d also like to thank all the visiting locomotive and rolling stock owners. We hope that you enjoyed it as much as we did and that you will come again soon.”
Some facts and figures from the Diesel Festival:
· At last year’s event, 4,800 passengers travelled over the three days; this year we recorded 4,810, and the tickets sold at intermediate stations will add further to the total
· Bars, retail and catering saw a 25% improvement in sales over 2016, with 777 Diesel Festival DVDs and 40 Diesel Festival T Shirts sold during the event
· Revenue for on-the-day ticket sales saw a 10% growth on 2016
The SVR’s Marketing Department is delighted with the online impact being made by Marketing and Events Assistant Stan Jones. As Marketing Manager Clare Gibbard explains, there’s now increased coverage and engagement across various social media platforms:
“Our coverage of the Spring Diesel Festival on social media was fantastic, and our increased online coverage is paying dividends. We’re generating some really positive numbers across all of our social platforms.
“However our efforts aren’t just about numbers, they’re about people. As a Railway we receive glowing reviews from individuals every day, across TripAdvisor, Facebook and Google, commending the volunteers and staff. “
Some social media stats:
· The SVR’s average online newsletter open-rate is 40%, compared with an industry standard of 15-30%
· The Severn Valley Railway Official Facebook star-rating, bolstered by more than 750 reviews, is now 4.8 out of 5.
· The week ending 25th May saw the highest ever number of users aged 18-24 on svr.co.uk
· Since the start of 2017, there’s been an increase of more than 5,000 followers on Facebook, to give a total of 23,800
If you’re using Facebook, please remember to ‘like’ the ‘Severn Valley Railway Official Site’ page, and share the posts too. https://www.facebook.com/svrofficial/
Brick by brick, we’re getting there!
At Bridgnorth station, there’s now real evidence to be seen of the new refreshment building rising from the groundworks, as Infrastructure Manager Chris Bond explains:
“Bricklaying on the retaining wall has progressed well despite some very warm weather which can hinder the operation. The curved part of this wall on the south east corner has been superbly executed, and will look stunning topped off with bull nose coping bricks and spear top fencing.
“The complex angles and rake of the wall here have proved a challenge for the bricklaying team, but their deliberations have paid off."
“Work has now commenced on the building itself, with the first course of bricks in place, encompassing the footprint of the building. This is part of ensuring the setting out of all works in practice. Once this is declared satisfactory, the bricklayers will rapidly put down the walls and our supporters will see far more visible progress taking place.
“Volunteers are assisting Iris, the contractors, by cleaning off cement mortar from recovered coping bricks donated to the SVR by Kier Construction. These have been removed from bridges affected by the London – Bristol electrification work. With their authentic GWR origins, these recovered coping bricks are perfect for our project.”
Remember, you can support the Bridgnorth Development Project by buying shares in the 2016 Share Offer. See http://www.svr.co.uk/ShareOffer1.aspx for more details.
Access gates installed at Bewdley
After a great deal of work by the staff at Bewdley, the access gates and fencing has now been installed at the entrance to the station, helping secure the station out of normal operating hours.
Bewdley’s Assistant Stationmaster Dai Phillips has asked Express Points to highlight that these gates are now operational, which are locked at night. Dai points out the following:
“If you have occasion to work at Bewdley either very early or late, you will need to know the combination to open the gates. James Pearson circulated an email update recently, but if for some reason you haven’t received this, please get in touch with me at .”
A double win for SVR pubs
More accolades have been added to the SVR’s extensive collection, with the announcements that the King & Castle and the Railwayman’s Arms have both been honoured by the Campaign for Real Ale, CAMRA.
In Kidderminster, the King & Castle scooped Wyre Forest CAMRA’s Pub of the Season award for Spring 2017. CAMRA’s Nick Yarwood commented:
“We think the pub is welcoming for the many visitors who come to Kidderminster and the Railway in the spring. The bar staff are welcoming, the food offering is good, as is the outside seating under the canopy to enjoy the warmer weather. Our members appreciate the variety and the quality of the beers on offer. Gavin Chance and his team have done a good job in raising standards against stiff competition and the award is well deserved.”
Meanwhile at Bridgnorth, the Railwayman’s Arms took the CAMRA "Bridgnorth Pub of The Year Award’ earlier this season. Marketing and Communications Manager Clare Gibbard said:
“This is a fantastic achievement for Samantha Cottrell and her team, supporting the ongoing quality and service that has been offered for many years now. With the number and quality of public houses in Bridgnorth they were up against, to win this award was an amazing achievement!”
Congratulations to everyone involved.
Volunteer Thank You Event
Tickets are available for the Volunteer Thank You Evening which is taking place at the Engine House, Highley on 17th June. Each member of staff is entitled to a maximum of two free tickets, on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets are available via the station booking offices, on production of the relevant staff pass. The VLO and Diane Malyon also have a small supply. Because of fire regulations and catering requirements, numbers are limited to 300.
A train will be laid on from both ends of the line.
The Kidderminster departure is at 17.55. Return from Highley 22.25, arriving Kidderminster 23.01.
(Please note that the evening DMU is not intended for the use of participants of the Thank You Evening except for late finishing staff getting to Highley.)
The Bridgnorth departure is at 18.20. Return from Highley 22.15, arriving Bridgnorth 22.40.
There will be a pig roast, a vegetarian option and a selection of salads, included with the free ticket. A bar will be provided (selling Bewdley Brewery beers amongst others) where drinks vouchers provided by SVR Holdings (PLC) can be exchanged. Drinks vouchers are not valid elsewhere. There will be a prize draw based on your ticket number. It is hoped that DVDs of SVR interest will be shown in the cinema area during the evening.
The Guarantee Board, Holdings Board and Staffing Committee hope you will be able to join them for this informal event.
Reciprocal travel update
Have you checked out the list of heritage railways that offer free or discounted travel to SVR working members? Please visit http://www.svrlive.com/reciprocal-travel for full details.
Plus there’s news from the Railway’s Reciprocal Travel Officer Phil Ralls who tells Express Points readers:
“I’m pleased to announce that Avon Valley Railway have now signed up to offer reciprocal travel for SVR working members.
“And, anticipating that the question will be asked, I have contacted Swanage Railway regarding our reciprocal travel agreement when the link to Wareham is taken into regular use. The good news is that SVR staff passes will be accepted for Wareham-Swanage Day Rover travel. As now, you’ll need a Swanage Railway complimentary ticket, and I understand SR will have a mobile ticket office outside the station. Car parking at Wareham station is restricted, so it’s best to travel there by public transport.
“I’ve made similar enquiries with North Norfolk Railway regarding their trains to Cromer, but as these are pre-booked diner services only, this is not relevant as far as reciprocal travel is concerned.”
Have a day at the races and support the SVR!
As a supporter of the Railway, you are warmly invited to the SVR Charitable Trust’s race day at Worcester race course on Wednesday 14th June.
Tickets are £9 each, and £3 of this will be donated directly to the Charitable Trust.
The action begins at 2.30pm.
Or if you, or your company, would like to join more than 200 of Worcestershire’s finest in the luxury marquee, you can reserve a table of 10 for £850, or purchase a pair of tickets for £200. Enjoy a three course lunch, wine, an expert tipster talk and the chance to bid for a range of exciting auction prizes.
Please see http://svrtrust.org.uk/news/worcester-race-day-2017.html for further details
Injured passenger thanks SVR staff
Bewdley Stationmaster James Pearson has received a letter from a passenger who fell over at the Spring Steam Gala in March, injuring his head. There was a delay of over half an hour to the trains, whilst emergency crews attended and conveyed the gentleman to an ambulance.
James tells us:
“Fortunately the gentleman concerned has made a full recovery, and wishes to thank everyone who helped him on the day. He has also asked us to pass on his apologies for being the cause of the delay at this special event. We’re just very happy and relieved to learn that he is now feeling much better.”
With great sadness, we announce the passing of Douglas Macfarlane and Brian Shaw. Our deepest sympathy goes to their families and friends at this very sad time.
Doug was a shareholder and ardent supporter of the SVR. His sister Liz Trew has told us that Doug died peacefully, on 27th April, with his family by his side. Doug spent many happy hours on the Railway, and frequently came to the special events. Liz remembers an occasion when Doug took her to meet one of his ex-colleagues, George, who gave them a tour of one of the signal boxes.
Brian sadly died on 16th May. He started as a volunteer in Kidderminster Shop in 1986 and was involved in building the WH Smith's kiosk on the station. He then helped start the Coalyard Miniature Railway in 1988 where he spent most of his time volunteering. He took the role of the Fat Controller at a number of Thomas Events and played Mr Holly for the Christmas cracker events as well as supporting the Severn Valley Junior Club. Unfortunately, he had to give up volunteering a few years ago when he started suffering from Alzheimer's.
Update from Operations Department
Significant progress has been made over the past two months to resolve a number of operational issues. Bill Griffiths is leading the operations team that consists of Matt Robinson, who started as a full-time Operations Assistant in April, and Martin Bannister, who is on a six month secondment to the team.
On behalf of the team, Bill wishes to thank working members and staff for their understanding:
“We’re very grateful for your patience during what has been a challenging period, and for the numerous expressions of support. We will continue to apply ourselves to short-term problems, and soon to longer-term planning. Consideration will be given shortly to this year’s working timetables and consultation for the 2018 timetables will begin in the coming weeks.”
Bill gave an outline of each of the team’s responsibilities:
● Discussing all TN feedback from the checkers with Martin and agreeing changes
● Producing detailed Traffic Notices for up to 4 weeks in advance. Checkers will receive a rolling 4 weeks of cumulative versions of each TN
● Producing the General Traffic Notice on Thursday for release on Friday, to cover the period from the following Saturday (so 8 days in advance)
● Involved in the Northern Belle operation, and will take responsibility for this in the next few weeks
Martin is looking after the master diary in general. This includes responsibility for the synchronisation and 'health' of the diary, which includes:
● Footplate Experiences, charters, weddings and additional traffic requests
● Liaison with other diary users, such as roster clerks, Loco Coordinator, Senior Duty Officer etc
● Entering roster information into the diary as required and uploading roster information etc to the Operations Resources section of SVROnline
● Will also help to draft Traffic Notices for up to 8 weeks in advance
● Will also take on responsibility for structuring and populating following year's diaries (2018 currently, then 2019 in late summer / early autumn)
Bill will produce the Public Traffic Notices, and load traffic information in general to svrlive.com. This will now take place on the Tuesday following the general Friday release.
Contacting the team
Bill asks that you check the above role outlines and choose the appropriate person to contact
Operations Mobile: 07966 587874. This phone will be manned by one of the team from 7am to 11pm every day
Operations Desk: 01562 757936 (Internal 547). Matt / Martin
Operations Hotdesk: 01562 757917 (Internal 570). Bill
Vacancies at the Railway
There are a number of current vacancies for paid staff at the SVR and you can find full details at http://svr.co.uk/Employment.aspx. Please let friends and family know about these opportunities. The closing date for all vacancies below is 9th June.
Education Officer – based at the Engine House, Bewdley. To lead the development and delivery of the schools programme, taking responsibility for its day-to-day operation.
Casual Support Teacher – based at the Engine House, Highley. To help deliver the schools programme. There will be some classroom-based work, but most of the role will be out and about on the Railway.
Catering Assistant/Cook – to lead food preparation at the Bewdley Buffet
‘Warning’ of 100mph Tornado!
Richard Hill of the LNER Coach Fund has contacted us with information about a recent BBC programme that readers might enjoy. Tornado – the 100mph Steam Engine, was broadcast on 15th May but only to BBC regions in the north and east. However, you can catch it on the BBC iPlayer until 14th June http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b08rb16k/tornado-the-100mph-steam-engine?suggid=b08rb16k
“The programme covers the recent successful attempt by the new-build A1 Pacific Class 60163 Tornado to reach 100mph, and I’m sure many SVR supporters will enjoy it. While you’re watching, try imagining what conditions must have been like on Mallard’s footplate when it achieved its 126mph record run in 1938 on jointed track!”
Editor’s note: The photo accompanying this month’s article about the Charitable Trust’s £1 million jackpot shows Richard giving some TLC to 60163.
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Class 14 Success!
Congratulations to the small team of devoted volunteers who have worked tirelessly over the last three and a half years to restore this locomotive at Bridgnorth. Owned by The Severn Valley Railway Class 14 Company the loco hauled its first revenue earning train for over twenty years, on the 18th May 2017.
Well done chaps!
Pictured left, on a test run at Hampton Loade are a few of the team, Gary Williams, Paul Davies, Duncan Ballard and Chris Bailey.
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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 either Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) PLC. which owns the Severn Valley Railway, or Severn Valley Railway Company Limited, the members of which are responsible for its operation.