D6817 (37521) passes Slindon hauling 37688 'Great Rocks' from Kidderminster S.V.R. to Crewe H.S. on 13th February. Long-term hiree 37688 has left the SVR, owners D05 Preservation Ltd announced that 37688 was to go on long term lease to Locomotive Services Ltd. and the locomotive is to be restored to main line use. Photo: Brad Joyce.
Welcome to your latest edition of Express Points!
Has it stopped raining yet? Happily it has in the Severn Valley as we go to press, and a very welcome respite it is. Welcome to the March edition of Express Points, in which we’re feeling decidedly damp around the gills.
Storm Dennis has done its worst, but the SVR calmly carried on in the face of some very challenging circumstances. Meanwhile, excellent progress has been made on the first phase of repair work to Falling Sands Viaduct, and we have a fascinating report from Nick Yarwood, the project’s infrastructure volunteer who has practically camped out on site since the works began over the new year period. There’s double recognition for SVR excellence from the Heritage Railway Association and the lowdown on everything you ever wanted to know about track relaying during the winter months from Bridgnorth P-way volunteer Brent Cleeton. If you’re at Kidderminster, do check out the curious new addition close to the car park entrance – it’s the SVR’s very own bug hotel and it’s the brainchild of eco-friendly gardener Bob Mitchell. All this and more in your March edition of Express Points.
As always, we welcome contributions from across the SVR, and it makes all the difference when you include a photograph or two. Please do get in touch with your news at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re publishing April’s Express Points a week earlier than usual, so we’ll need any contributions by 26th March at the latest please.
Each month, the Volunteer Liaison Office has a draw for a £20 voucher to spend on the Railway - check here to see if it's you.
Lesley Carr and Patrick Hearn, co-editors
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A wet but enthusiastic start to the 2020 season
With Storm Dennis in full flow, the SVR opened for its first week of operations at February half term. Many areas close to the line suffered extensive flooding, including Bewdley and Bridgnorth. The Severn Valley’s plight made the national television news on many days.
Fortunately, no sections of the line were flooded and scheduled operations were able to continue with few disruptions. All SVR stations were accessible although the closure of the roads and bridges meant widespread traffic diversions were in place during some of the week.
Infrastructure manager Chris Bond has told us that SVR teams are closely monitoring our structures and permanent way, with appropriate professional support as required. A temporary speed restriction is in place at Sterns.
It was no surprise that passenger numbers were affected because of the weather. Some quick thinking was needed to reassure the public that they could still visit the Railway, and a campaign of social media posts and website advice was devised to put out the message that it was ‘business as usual’ at the Railway, although extra time would be needed to travel to the SVR.
The regional BBC and ITV social media channels featured footage of the floods, taken through one of our carriage windows. In fact, travelling along the line gave an excellent opportunity to experience the rising water levels at a safe (and dry) distance, as you can see from the video included here.
Passenger numbers were down 33% on the budgeted figure, but considering the extreme conditions caused by Storm Dennis this is understandable. Huge efforts on the part of SVR staff in very trying conditions meant that all visitors who were brave enough to venture out received a warm and friendly welcome and enjoyed the levels of service for which the SVR is well known. Many thanks to all, both ‘front of house’ and behind the scenes.
Although no trains ran from Kidderminster because of the planned work on Falling Sands Viaduct, the station welcomed a host of families for a workshop event that proved highly successful (please see separate article.) The station also hosted a mini-footplate experience day with participants driving a Class 50 diesel in the station area and viewing the diesel depot.
We are now back into weekend running, with services between Bridgnorth and Bewdley until the line reopens to Kidderminster on 4th April.
Please click on the gallery to see the images in full screen, and descriptions.
Meanwhile in Kidderminster
Although the ongoing repair work at Falling Sands Viaduct meant no passenger services were running from Kidderminster, the station saw plenty of activity during the first operational week of the 2020 season. Hundreds of budding young train drivers were put through their paces in hands-on workshop events that ran throughout half term week.
More than 800 children and adults attended the Make Me a Train Driver workshops, with the youngsters immersing themselves in an exciting and educational experience involving actors, a short ride on a diesel train within the station area, a themed photo shoot, and a certificate of achievement to take home along with a build-your-own engine Lego model.
Public appreciation for the events has been tremendous. Dozens of comments have come in on social media and this one from Facebook sums it up rather nicely:
“I took my 4 year old nephew to the ‘make me a train driver event’. I cannot express how much we both enjoyed our day. From the second that we pulled into the car park the staff were friendly and accommodating. The quality of the children’s entertainment was outstanding. We have made some fabulous memories today, all thanks to your team.”
Events manager Lewis Maddox added:
“We have received so much positive feedback from the event and can’t wait for the next one. Massive thanks to Geoff, Roger, Kevin and the Kidderminster station team for making the event a success.”
Photo: Two happy youngsters receive their certificates at the half term workshops.
Repair works at Falling Sands Viaduct
Our viaduct between Kidderminster and Bewdley has been a hive of much activity in recent weeks. Infrastructure volunteer Nick Yarwood has been a daily visitor to the site, and in the spring edition of SVR News*, he writes in detail about all aspects of the work that have been undertaken and the problems that have been overcome. In Express Points this month, we bring you some extracts from Nick’s article, reproduced with kind permission:
“First to go was ballast that was set aside for reuse at the sides of the new track across the viaduct to suppress vegetation. Then the spent bottom ballast that proved to be useful later for access routes on site. As each layer a third of a metre thick was peeled away and stockpiled nearby, where the sugar beet sidings had been, the colours of fill were revealed. Initially ash and stone gave way to red, yellow and orange sands and rock sand, often in distinct patches where they must have been tipped during construction.
“With arched viaducts it’s important not to create disproportionately unbalanced loadings. Whilst it would have been much quicker to dig down up to 1.5m to the arches in one operation, that would put the structure at risk. And so the viaduct’s secrets were revealed layer by layer.
“There was also the complication of a live gas main, and its ductile iron predecessor. Fortunately the iron one was first to be exposed and was dismantled and cut into manageable sections. The live one was treated with reverential caution requiring hand excavation at close quarters and support at three metre intervals. The presence of the gas main created complications for progress of the works throughout the project.
"As the excavations progressed, various artefacts emerged. A navvy’s shovel, rusted and with no handle - it long having decayed – and with the pointed end worn flat from digging the abrasive soils. Perhaps the handle had broken and it was cast aside in disgrace. There was also a ceramic jar, broken, and embedded in a very large blob of pitch. Maybe that had contained some lunch or was used for drinking out of. Both gave a window into the past, 122 years ago.
“Nearly 2,000 tonnes of stockpiled fill have been dumpered back into place and compacted. On top of that is the ballast. On the south side concrete toughs have been laid for signal cables, with recovered ballast along each side. At the time of writing it’s ready for the track and cabling.
“The project has progressed ahead of programme due in part to an exceptionally mild winter. The greatest risk was prolonged freezing or snowfall interfering with concreting and waterproofing. Waterproofing needed seven days to complete and was also vulnerable to rain. With good programming and a week of calm dry weather, it all went to plan.”
The SVR's consulting engineer, Jonathan Symonds, told us "as at 29th February troughing is installed across the viaduct and the ballast restraint posts are being put in position."
The plan ahead is that the full line from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth will be reopened for 4th April. Phase two of the project will begin in the summer, with contractors using rope access on the outside walls and under the arches of the viaduct to replace damaged brickwork and repoint the mortar.
The £1.3 million project, which includes an associated programme of exhibitions and events, has been made possible thanks to generous donations from SVR supporters, and a £925,000 grant from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
The Falling Sands Viaduct website is at https://www.fallingsandsviaduct.org.uk/.
Please click on the gallery to see the images in full screen, and descriptions. *SVR News is the quarterly publication sent to 12,500 SVR members, and the next edition, containing Nick’s article, will be sent out in the next week.
HRA awards - two runners up!
Congratulations to the Class 50 Alliance who were runners up in the Coiley Locomotive Engineering Award category at the HRA Awards 2020 on 8th February for restoring 50 033 Glorious. The Coiley award is for an outstanding overhaul or restoration of a locomotive.
Dawn Spencer said: “We were delighted to be nominated. Alas, we did not win the award but we are so proud to have been able to represent the CL50A and the Severn Valley Railway. We congratulate the winners, the North York Moors Railway 92134 project, and all the other winners and nominees. We at the CL50A are so grateful that we have our base at the SVR and are able to undertake such major restorations such as 50033 at the wonderful facilities at Kidderminster TMD.”
In January's Express Points we recounted that The CL50A took Glorious on loan in February 2018 from Tyseley for an initial three-year period, and moved it to Kidderminster Diesel Depot Work for Fifty Fund volunteers to restore it to use. It returned to traffic in October 2018 and a repaint at Eastleigh in 2019 meant Glorious lived up to its name at the October Diesel Gala.
Well done to the CL50A volunteers for this recognition.
Meanwhile the ‘Stove R’ is also recognised.
The Charitable Trust-owned LMS 2886 brake van was also a runner up in The Heritage Railway Association awards, in the Morgan Award for Preservation category. Work on this unusual vehicle began in 2009 and was completed late last year. The project received 95% of its input from a dedicated team of volunteers, who have spent 20,000 hours on this labour of love. The Charitable Trust’s Shelagh Paterson said:
“Hats off to #TeamSVR once again for the thoroughly professional work they’ve undertaken to bring this rare vehicle back into service. We are delighted that their dedication and expertise have been recognised in this way by the Heritage Railway Association.”
Affectionately known as the ‘Stove R’, 2886 is a rare example of its type, one of only two to have survived. It’s about to take on a very special role at the Railway, as a unique mobile exhibition venue. It will make its debut on the 4th April, as a traveling exhibition space, where visitors can see, hear and smell the Falling Sands Viaduct story, and learn about the people who designed, built and used the Railway from the 1870s to the 1950s.
CL50A chairman Jonathan Dunster with volunteers Anthony Middleton and James Gregory accepting on behalf of Team Glorious /CL50A the runner up award for the Coiley Locomotive Engineering Award. Photo: HRA
The SVR Charitable Trust's runner up award for the Morgan Award for Preservation. Photos: Ronan O'Brien
Lady of Legend heads to SVR Spring Gala
The SVR has announced the debut appearance of GWR Class No 2999 Lady of Legend at the season-opening Spring Steam Gala from 16th -19th April. The SVR will be the first heritage railway to welcome the much-anticipated ‘new rebuild’ locomotive following its completion last year at Didcot Railway Centre.
Gala chairman Brian Malyon, said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be bringing Lady of Legend to the SVR and are sure that it will really draw the crowds, just as ‘new’ locomotive Tornado has done during its very popular visits to the Railway.
“It is a very fitting gala visitor during the SVR’s 50th year in preservation, reflecting a celebration of our past heritage as well as the skills, dedication and technologies of today which are helping us to look firmly to the future.”
The Spring Steam Gala will run for four days this year in its new April slot, and will feature up to four visiting locomotives in action alongside its home fleet. An intensive timetable including goods trains and local services will be in operation, with services running into the evenings on the Friday and Saturday. Some more surprises are planned, to be announced shortly.
Dubbed the ‘78th Saint’, Lady of Legend is the first new example of George Jackson Churchward’s Edwardian Saint class 4-6-0 locomotives to be built since 1913. The class became extinct in 1953 and 17 years on, a project was launched by the Great Western Society to re-create a ‘Saint’ using No. 4942 Maindy Hall as a base.
GWR 9581 wheelchair and buffet carriage progress
This vehicle is being created by rebuilding the bodyshell of GWR 3rd 5043 to provide a wheelchair and buffet car for the ordinary service GWR coaching set. During the winter the LNER Carriage Group’s volunteers have been concentrating on the interior. Group member Richard Gunning told us: “There are many members of the LNER group whose efforts have been mentioned in this update. Their work is equally important to the 9581 Project.” You can find a full February 2020 progress update and images on the LNER Carriage Group project webpage.
Significant progress is that the floor joists have been repaired as necessary and five added to suit 9581’s new arrangement of internal walls. The point loading of wheelchairs is considerably higher than that of standing passengers in its previous guise. In addition to the extra joists, therefore, the floor has been replaced with 18mm “Buffalo Board” panels, a high-quality resin bonded plywood. A second layer in larger panels will be added later to add even more strength to the finished floor.
More visible signs of progress are that the internal walls are now all made and in place ready to receive their fittings. The size of the door frames and corner posts to accommodate wheelchairs has dictated the use of new timber. Many of the walls re-use tongue and groove softwood saved from 5043’s internal walls and floor, augmented by more Buffalo Board to support the necessary handrails and baby changing unit. In another adaptation, part of the frame for the kitchen ceiling has had to be lowered to accommodate the water tank.
Work is also taking place in the new passenger saloon. Wiring conduits are being fitted along both sides of the entire carriage. A long and intricate task is providing a set of internal fittings for each of the eight side doors. Much material was recovered from the 16 side doors of 5043, and we are restoring the more substantial top and middle horizontal members but replacing the wasted vertical pieces.
Work refurbishing the 20 sliding windows nears completion, following on from the 10 sets of aluminium toplights. These window assemblies were recovered from scrap Mk1 carriages and supplied to us by our friends from the Llangollen Railway. They are in rundown condition having enjoyed ‘long and busy lives’. The work is considerable, removing broken glass, old sealant, paint, and seized screws. Bent components are straightened, missing and worn out parts replaced, oversized holes plugged, re-drilled and tapped for new slotted screws. Each unit is reassembled with new glass and sealant, all to keep the windows operable.
Note: The LNER Carriage Group is part of the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust Ltd. and was asked to undertake the rebuild for the SVR. Once the rebuilding of 9581 and projects for 4399 and 80776 are complete, the ordinary service coaching sets will all have catering and wheelchair provision.
Photos: please click on the gallery to see the images in full screen, and descriptions. Copyright LNER Carriage Group
It’s a bug’s life
Kidderminster station’s enterprising volunteer gardener Bob Mitchell has created the SVR’s very own ‘bug hotel’. Bob told us the thinking behind his latest project:
“My approach to the gardens at Kidderminster station is to make them as environmentally friendly as possible. This spring and summer I’ll be redesigning all the flower beds, hanging baskets and tubs to embrace this vision. And by building the bug hotel, we’re able to play a part in addressing the decline of the bee and butterfly population.”
Kidderminster’s ‘Bugingham Palace’ is constructed of recycled items from the station, and is situated close to the car park entrance. It’s made of five wooden pallets, recycled slate roofing tiles, logs with holes drilled in the end, plastic and clay pots containing twigs, bamboo and straw, bricks, bark, dry leaves, shredded Christmas trees, decaying wood, fir cones and teasels. It all adds up to a five star residence … if you’re a bug. Bob explains more:
“These materials provide ideal hibernating homes and breeding grounds for all sorts of small creatures from solitary bees to bumblebees, ladybirds to lacewings, woodlice to millipedes, and spiders to slow-worms. They’re even of interest to hedgehogs and toads. Fingers crossed, we’ll achieve full reservations!”
If Bob’s bug hotel inspires you, you might like to make a smaller version for your own garden. All you need to know is at rspb.org.uk
Photos: Lesley Carr
Some bad luck and some good at Bridgnorth MPD
It’s been a month of ups and downs, as volunteer shed master Martin White writes:
The phrase ‘these things are sent to try us’ is sometimes used when things start to get a bit difficult. It’s completely inadequate to those people who live along the Severn Valley who have had their homes flooded or their lives disrupted by the floods. However, within the loco department and workshops it does quite well to sum up some of what’s being going on.
Just as the new SVR season started and we thought that all the winter maintenance was nearly completed without issue, something completely unforeseen occurred ‘to try us’. In this case it was during routine work on ex-GWR 2857, when something was spotted that didn’t look quite right with the middle tender axle and wheels. What we call ‘witness marks’ showed something was amiss and was moving where it shouldn’t be. Technical measuring equipment was brought out and it was discovered that wheelset has gone out of gauge by about 0.040 inch. Moving the loco to rotate the wheel a full revolution and measuring it again showed about 0.020 inch, which was very odd! For those who aren’t good with numbers, 0.040 is 40 thousandths of an inch, or about 1/25 of an inch or 1mm. It might not sound much, but on locomotives thousandths of an inch are regularly measured and they are important. In simple, layman’s terms, the wheel has become loose on the axle and it’s wobbling about. Only a very small amount, but it meant that the locomotive is an immediate ‘failure’. You cannot run locos (or carriages or wagons), with loose wheels!
Within a day or so of this being discovered the faulty wheelset was removed from the tender by MPD shed volunteers during a weekend day, using the wheel-drop in the loco works. This enabled closer examination and thoughts to be given to rectification…….certainly not an easy repair. So, that’s the bad news, but there is some good news and a bit of good fortune too.
It just so happens that there is another wheelset from an ex-GWR tender sat in Bridgnorth shed. It belongs to the Erlestoke Manor Fund (EMF) and was waiting to be fitted under one of their tenders. Some calls were made by SVR Engineering Services to EMF and to the 2857 owning group and agreement was reached that SVR could borrow the EMF wheelset for 2857’s tender, whilst a repair on the 28’s own wheelset was undertaken.
Then, there was a second piece of good fortune. Whilst discussing the possible repair with South Devon Railway Engineering in Buckfastleigh, who have the equipment and expertise to remove and refit wheels onto axles etc, it transpired that they have some brand new material for axles ‘on the shelf’. So there’s no wait and they can get straight onto this.
There is still a lot to be done for a long term fix, but for the immediate future part of a ‘Manor’ may be running along The Valley behind 2857!
No such luck for the poor souls flooded out though – spare them a thought when you think you are having a bad day.
Photos by Martin White: 2857 tender, with middle wheels removed; and work in progress on the ‘borrowed’ set of wheels behind a pallet full of tender axlebox parts.
Paul Hern In February we received the sad news that Paul Hern had passed away. Many will remember Paul as a ticket inspector for the last 15 years, during which time he became involved with other areas of the Railway. The burial took place on 24th February at Great Malvern, followed by a service of thanksgiving at Great Malvern Priory. Our condolences to Paul’s wife Alaine. Barry Moreton, VLO
Coronavirus – advice to SVR staff
In light of the continuing concerns over the spread of coronavirus, general manager Helen Smith has asked all staff at the Railway to familiarise themselves with the public information that has been made available.
The Government and NHS are well prepared to deal with this virus. You can help too. Germs can live on some surfaces for hours. To protect yourself and others:
Always carry tissues with you and use them to catch your cough or sneeze.
Bin the tissue, and to kill the germs, wash your hands with soap and water, or use a sanitiser gel.
The specific advice for returning travellers and the areas affected is being updated frequently. Do check the guidance each time you are coming back from abroad.
This is the best way to slow the spread of almost any germs, including Coronavirus. Find out more at www.gov.uk/coronavirus
Reciprocal travel arrangements
Reader Mike Woodyatt contacted Express Points to ask whether we could include an up-to-date list of the other heritage railways that offer reciprocal travel arrangements for SVR working members, as he is intending to travel on a number of other railways this year. If Mike’s wondering about this, we thought others might be too, so here’s how to find the list.
Go to the main page of www.svrlive.com, click on ‘The SVR’ tab to open a dropdown menu, and select ‘reciprocal travel’ from there. Or if you want it super fast, just follow this link: https://www.svrlive.com/reciprocal-travel .
Happy planning Mike!
Visiting other railways can also mean seeing SVR-based locomotives and carriages 'on tour'. Martin Creese's image shows GWR 1400 class 0-4-2T No. 1450 at the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, complete with BR(WR) autocoach W238W Chaffinch.
Bewdley Buffet – A progress report
Considerable progress has been made during February. The new building is on site and services are being installed. The access ramp suitable for wheelchair users has been constructed as has the covered passageway between the new building and the refurbished kitchen. No more dashes through the rain between the kitchen and table!
The new accommodation is air-conditioned, offering improved comfort in both cold and warm weather. In the kitchen the new ovens and hobs are already operational allowing the catering team to once again provide a range of hot meals, cooked from scratch in many cases.
The area to the front of the new Buffet will be repaired and developed to provide 'al fresco' dining when the weather permits.
As work has been progressing, interested observers have asked a number of questions, so hopefully the following comments will provide some background.
Station master James Pearson told Express Points:
"The new building is owned by the Railway and if the opportunity arises can be reused elsewhere. While a more permanent structure might have been preferable, budgets are limited and operational investment must take priority. Perhaps in future years a more comprehensive redevelopment can be undertaken. If anyone has a spare £100,000 looking for a home, please do let us know!
"The 'Trackside Buffet', otherwise known as Mark 1 coach No 4593, will be dispatched to the carriage works to be returned to traffic after overhaul, once the line to Kidderminster re-opens.
"Keeping the SVR running inevitably involves many staff in dirty working environments, but to maintain the standards of comfort and cleanliness our visitors expect, it is requested that staff change work clothes and boots likely to transfer dirt and stains to the furniture, visitors clothing or the floor, prior to entry to the Buffet."
It is hoped the new Buffet building will become operational during the next four weeks.
Photo: Ian Cook
Winter works track relaying
While the Falling Sands Viaduct civils is the winter’s headline project, another major item has been progressing at the south end of the line with the relaying of track between Bewdley Tunnel and Falling Sands Viaduct.
The job (as with many on the SVR) is a mix of staff and volunteers. Chris Bagley, Dave Evans and Leigh King from the full-time staff are assisted by volunteers from Bewdley PWay and Brent Cleeton from the Bridgnorth team, as required and as available. Express Points caught up with Brent, who updated us on the progress:
“The team has removed bullhead (round bottomed) rail and life-expired sleepers using road railers, before excavating the ballast. The removed ballast has been quite similar looking to ‘readymix’ due to waterlogging! Loosening the base layer and new ballast will improve the drainage on this stretch.”
Brent’s image of a removed rail shows the reduced rail thickness. He explains: “Two of the actions on rail are galling and fretting. Galling is where dust, rain and surface rust form a very effective grinding paste and the base of the rail wears against the cast iron chair, so reducing the thickness of the rail base. Fretting is where the base of the rail moves on its seating face with the chair and over time it wears.
“The removed rail has plenty of life left on the head, but due to the galling less than 2mm total wear tolerance left for 25mph line speed. If left, the area of wear might become a stress raiser, possibly resulting in a fractured rail. Where excessive galling is suspected, speed and axle weight restrictions may be applied, and this is an area the Office of Road and Rail is paying attention to.”
Brent continues, “We have removed the breather switches [continuous welded rail (CWR) expansion joints] in Bewdley Tunnel and replaced them with plain rail. As the new section extends the CWR section from the tunnel, they'll go back in by the new pointwork for the siding at Foley Park” [see February’s Express Points].
The team is installing concrete sleepers and flat-bottomed rail. As at 5pm on 21st February they had thirteen 60ft flat bottom lengths back in, just over 1/8 mile. There is ¾ mile still to do of which ½ mile is unlifted old bullhead track. The same teams will also reinstate the track on Falling Sands Viaduct which will involve twelve 60ft panels. Brent estimates typically between three and five panels a day go in. He added, “I wouldn't like to jinx things by saying it's going well, simply because of weather-related glitches at other locations along the Valley.”
Welding contractors are following along from the tunnel direction. New 6-hole insulated block joints are also being welded in, these are necessary for the track circuits for signalling between Bewdley South and Kidderminster boxes.
This is a terrific job in some lousy weather, and much appreciated on the railway. Diligent track management has seen several projects of rail replacement since the Railway re-opened following the storms of June 2007. As former SVR Infrastructure Manager Phil Sowden said back in 2011, “Engines and trains are the glamorous side of what we do, but if you haven’t got a railway to run on, you’re going nowhere. We take the whole issue of infrastructure renewals and maintenance very seriously.”
Please click on the gallery to see the images in full screen, and descriptions.
Do you use Amazon?
If so, you could support the SVR Charitable Trust, and it won’t cost you an extra penny!
Simply go to smile.amazon.co.uk and log in using your usual Amazon credentials.
You’ll be directed to a new page, where you can use the ‘pick your own charitable organization’ tab to enter Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust Limited, and click Search.
When you’ve found us – just carry on shopping! 0.5% of your payment will come to our charity.
Remember, always begin on smile.amazon.co.uk for this to work.
If 10,000 SVR supporters made a £20 spend on smile.amazon.co.uk, we’d raise £1,000!
You can also set up Amazon Smile on your mobile Amazon app, using the menu function.
An unusual visitor
Class 999 No 999 900, a PPM50 Parry People Mover, arrived on 25th February for a short testing contract.
Operations Manager Matt Robinson told us: "It's certainly something different! It is stabled in Bridgnorth MPD yard in readiness for some movements on the line under test conditions".
It is, however, not its first stay on the Valley. Those with longer memories may remember it spent a couple of months on test on the SVR in March 2002.
It was subsequently used on the Network Rail branch line from Stourbridge Junction to Stourbridge Town, before the arrival of the two Class 139 vehicles.
We are indebted to Paul Jackson for these extracts from April 2019 edition of Parry News, ‘How the original class 139 light railcar can function as a pathfinder and research vehicle for branch line revival’.
“Originally manufactured 18 years ago, PPM railcar No 12, the prototype of Class 139. It was used for periods of demonstration service on privately owned lines in Staffordshire, Leicestershire, North Yorkshire and Worcestershire where, courtesy of the Severn Valley Railway, it was used for crew training in preparation for the Stourbridge Branch line public rail service. Now with refurbished coachwork it is being prepared to leave the Bloxwich Works.
“Originally No 12 in the sequence of prototype and demonstration vehicles the ‘first Class 139’ is being described as ‘No 139000’ seeking approval to enter into passenger service as a result of comprehensive refurbishment and upgrade work, carried out mainly at the works of Trailways in Bloxwich.
“……. with the assistance of a Coventry-based engine supplier, in place of the Ford LPG engine used in the 139001 and 002, a modern Ford diesel engine has been installed in 139000 together with the latest catalytic exhaust equipment.”
Photo: Matt Robinson
More guest locos join the Spring Diesel Festival
Further visiting locomotives have been announced for our Spring Diesel Festival from 14th to 17th May.
Class 37 No 37190, with thanks to Locomotive Services Ltd. This is its first visit since 2004.
Class 47 No 47712 Lady Diana Spencer, with thanks to Crewe Diesel Preservation Group. It previously visited in 2005 and 2008.
Planning is well advanced and more updates to come as and when details are confirmed. All being well the following classes of locomotive will be in operation at the event:
08/09/14/17/20/33/37/40/42/44/47/50/52 and 55 plus modern freight locomotives from Direct Rail Services and GBRf.
Unfortunately, the visit of Class 26 No 5343 announced during February will no longer be taking place due to engine issues.
2020 event logo courtesy of the team at Pixel Shack Design
Welsh Guardsman touches down
Last week ‘Austerity’ 0-6-0T No 71516 Welsh Guardsman was unloaded at Bridgnorth MPD from the Gwili Steam Railway. SVR locomotive coordinator Duncan Ballard told Express Points:
“The owner approached us some months ago due to a change in circumstances at Welsh Guardsman’s resident railway. We have agreed to host Welsh Guardsman while the owner decides on the operating opportunities for the loco during the 2020 season. ESMP will undertake some examination and maintenance work and we will potentially have the chance to use the locomotive if we decide to. There are further discussions and contractual arrangements to be made between the SVR and Welsh Guardsman’s owner.”
A spokesperson for the Gwili said, “Welsh Guardsman our regular steam locomotive has left us for the Severn Valley Railway. As a railway we are sad to see the locomotive leave. We would like to thank the Lewis Family and Felinfoel Brewery for their generous and valued support for the locomotive's service on the railway over the last six years. We hope that she will return at some point in the future, but for now we wish her all the best on the SVR.”
It is the first Austerity tank on the Valley since 1981 when former resident WD193 left for Hereford. "Welsh Guardsman" was built by Robert Stephenson and Hawthorn of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1944 as RSH No 7170/1944 and was delivered new to the War Department.
In 1947, she was sold to the National Coal Board to work in Northumberland, from where she was then transferred to Cynheidre Colliery near Llanelli. From 1976 until 1980 she was kept as a source of spares at Pontarddulais, before being saved by the Welsh Industrial & Maritime Museum.
On arrival at Bronwydd Arms, Gwili, parts from other locomotives were transferred: the loco has the boiler from Hunslet No 3822 and the cab and tank of Bagnall No 2758 of 1944.
The locomotive carries its war department number 71516 and was named Welsh Guardsman in a special ceremony at Bronwydd Arms. Following an overhaul at Llangollen the locomotive was rededicated at a ceremony at Bronwydd Arms on 9th June 2014.
During the move Gwili received ex-GWR Pannier Tank L92, perhaps better known as 5786 and itself a former SVR resident!
Photo: Welsh Guardsman at Bridgnorth 27th February. Brent Cleeton
SVR launches Loyalty Pass
In February’s Express Points, head of sales and marketing Lisa Palmer gave details of the new SVR Loyalty Pass. This comes in a range of visitor options, whether you like to travel on your own, with a partner, friend or carer or as a family.
We spoke to Lisa who has given us an update:
“The new pass is now being issued, and renewals and new sales of the former Annual Family Pass have ended. As those passes fall due for renewal, passholders are offered the new Loyalty Pass.
“Whether you buy your first Loyalty Pass or upgrade from the former Annual Family Pass, you will receive 15 months’ unlimited visits for the price of 12. And SVR members continue to receive a discount on the price.
“The new pass is available to a much wider audience and for the first time can be used at premium priced events, for a supplement, so please do spread the word."
A reminder of the benefits available:
15% off in SVR’s refreshment rooms and gift shops at Bridgnorth, The Engine House and Kidderminster
Reduced-price tickets to Galas and Step Back to the 1940s Weekends
Priority booking for all our extra-special events such as Santa Specials, Steam in Lights, Ghost Trains and more.
Full details of the pass options and prices are at svr.co.uk . If you are an Annual Family Pass holder you can upgrade to the Loyalty Pass and still get the 15 months for the price of 12. The residual value on your current Annual pass will be taken off the price of the new Loyalty Pass.
Please note that existing discounts for SVR working members remain unchanged. These are 37.5% in the buffets and 10% in the shops, upon production of a working member’s pass.
A plea from the SVR Company Limited
SVR membership manager Victoria Evans has asked Express Points to include a request to working members to make sure she has your current personal details, such as address, telephone numbers, email and next of kin details.
These are stored on a central database and it is important they are kept up to date. Please do let Victoria know any changes on 01562 757930 Mondays-Wednesdays 9.30-1.30, or email email@example.com
Gallery - Dave Hill
A change this month from our normal photographic showcase, which we hope you will enjoy.
Dave Hill has been posting a host of his wonderful images on social media from the 1968 to 1974 era, and says this has been a source of pleasure:
“I also enjoy reading the fascinating responses and extra information that I get from all the pictures, and often get additional information and corrected locations and dates.”
Our small selection highlights locomotives and rolling stock that have since left the SVR, its stations and environs, and some unusual workings.
All photos are by Dave Hill. Please click on the gallery to see the images in full screen, and descriptions.
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Dedicated Newsletter for SVR Supporters - Branch Lines
A monthly newsletter dedicated to SVR Supporters has been created, this will allow Express Points to be directed solely to our Working Members, content will be appropriate and different to that of Branch Lines.
CLICK HERE for the latest edition of Branch Lines.
If you're a Supporter of the SVR, but not a Working Member then please email BranchLines@svrlive.com to be added to the distribution list
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Any opinions or views expressed in this newsletter are entirely the opinions of the contributors, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Directors of Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) PLC. which owns the Severn Valley Railway, Severn Valley Railway Company Limited, the members of which are responsible for its operation, or the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust.