On the 19th October 2019, the PWay team sort sleepers on Stourport Triangle. By Rob Steward
Welcome to your latest edition of
The nights are drawing in, and the SVR is gearing up for what promises to be a bumper Santa season. We’ve just finished what was another very successful Ghost Train week, with the customary huge effort put in by working members to transform Kidderminster, Bewdley and Arley stations into very scary places. Plus of course, credit should go to the operational staff who ran three services a night over four dates. Well done to all!
This month we have the news that Helen Smith of the Tank Museum in Bovington has been appointed as the SVR’s new general manager, and we bid farewell to Nick Ralls after 12 years in that role. We also report from Bridgnorth which had a royal visitor recently, none other than the SVR’s Patron, HRH the Duke of Gloucester. Express Points this month is packed to the brim with news from all over the Railway, including a number of restoration updates, and plenty of interesting and curious tales to inspire you. We hope you enjoy reading it. If you do, please tell your colleagues! We know that there are many working members who aren’t subscribed, but it’s really easy to sign up. All you have to do is send your email address and details of the department in which you work to email@example.com.
We rely on people like you to let us know what’s happening around the Railway, so we’d love you to get in touch with your news so we can include it in next month’s Express Points. Remember to include a photograph. You can email us firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’re not a working member, but still want to get the inside track on all things SVR, please sign up for our sister e-newsletter, Branch Lines, which is aimed at members, shareholders and supporters. Just email your details to email@example.com
Lesley Carr and Patrick Hearn, Co-Editors
Picture by Ian Murray
New general manager is appointed
The chairman of SVR Holdings Nick Paul has announced the appointment of Helen Smith as general manager to replace Nick Ralls who departs later this month.
Helen is currently deputy director at the Tank Museum at Bovington where she reports to the board on all aspects of managing the museum, leading on strategic development of the business including operations, collections, exhibitions, learning programme, curatorial, marketing, admissions, retail, catering and events.
The Tank Museum is a £30m National Lottery Heritage Fund project with over 300 vehicles. It operates a £4.6m tank rebuild and restoration workshop with an active apprenticeship scheme. There are over 600 volunteers working at the Tank Museum in a variety of roles, many akin to those at the Railway.
Helen’s previous roles have been general manager at the Fusilier Museum in Bury and operations director at the Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham.
Yorkshire-born and bred, Helen currently lives in Dorset and is looking to relocate to the area as quickly as possible. She said:
“I am really excited about joining SVR. I will be on the Railway as often as I can before I join you and am looking forward to meeting as many volunteers and staff members as I can during these visits. Christmas is a busy period for the Railway and I want to experience the Santa trains and Steam in Lights, which I know are innovative changes this year.”
Nick Paul added:
“I am delighted that Helen has agreed to join us. The decision to appoint her was a unanimous one involving the boards of both the Holdings and Guarantee Company. We are confident that she will build on the strong foundations laid by her predecessor Nick Ralls, and lead us forward on our journey.”
Helen is expected to start in post early next year.
Invitation to say farewell to Nick Ralls
Nick Ralls' role as the SVR’s general manager of Severn Valley Railway will end on Friday 29th November. SVR Holdings chairman Nick Paul CBE is inviting all staff, voluntary and paid, to join him, his fellow directors and senior management team to wish Nick farewell. The event will be held in the refreshment room at Kidderminster on Thursday 14th November at 7pm. Nick is leaving to become CEO at Ironbridge Gorge Museum.
Duke of Gloucester visits Bridgnorth station
The SVR’s Patron, HRH the Duke of Gloucester received a very warm welcome when he visited Bridgnorth station on 18th October. As well as a short footplate ride on 75069, he made a tour of inspection around the newly opened refreshment rooms and met many volunteers and paid staff from across the Railway. HRH presented long service awards to a group of SVR pioneers, who between them have clocked up some 450 years of active service. He also met seven former SVR apprentices, all of whom are now working across different departments, and who received their certificates.
HRH’s arrival had been slightly delayed by signalling work on the mainline and he shared a joke with the former apprentices about that. He said he particularly appreciated the contrast between the long service volunteers and the new blood coming into the Railway as a result of the SVR’s pioneering Heritage Skills Training Academy.
Long service awards went to Pete Cherry, David Mellor, Roger Norfolk, John Phillips, Don Shadwell, Chris Thomas, Robert Toye, Chris Walton and Steve White.
The former apprentices who received their certificates were George Brogan, Alan Brookes, Max Green, Ronan O’Brien, Dean Parkin, Ryan Parsons and Brad Windridge.
The Duke also met Hugh McQuade, who recently stepped down as chairman of the SVR Charitable Trust and who has been a long-term member of the carriage & wagon department, both in paid and volunteer capacities. HRH presented Hugh with a letter inviting him to become the first ever vice president of the Charitable Trust, in honour of his long and active service.
Photos below from Bob Sweet and Jane Preece (2).
Lest we forget
On Remembrance Sunday, 10th November, the SVR will pay tribute to railway personnel who paid the ultimate price for their country, with ceremonies taking place at both Kidderminster and Bridgnorth stations, starting at 10.45am.
At Kidderminster, there will be a ceremony of hymns and prayers on the concourse, whilst at Bridgnorth there will be a short service alongside a steam locomotive adorned with a wreath.
Both services will pause at 11.00am, for the customary two minutes' silence.
Photo: Frank Richards
Exclusive SVR behind-the-scenes tour for National Lottery players
If you fancy taking a peek behind the scenes at Kidderminster Carriage & Wagon, there’s an exclusive opportunity to do so later this month. Working members and their friends are invited, but because this will be an event to say ‘thank you’ to National Lottery players, you’ll need a ticket or scratch card to take part.
The special tour takes place on the morning of Thursday 28th November, as part of The National Lottery’s #ThanksToYou week. National Lottery players have helped fund a number of major SVR projects, including the restoration of Falling Sands Viaduct, the overhaul of 4930 ‘Hagley Hall’, and the establishment of the Charitable Trust’s Future Fund investment to help secure the Railway in the long term.
Places for the tour are strictly limited and must be booked in advance. It will feature some of the rolling stock that’s currently under restoration, and will provide a fascinating opportunity to watch heritage skills in action and meet the people who perform the restoration magic.
You must book your place in advance by phoning the Charitable Trust office on 01562 757940, and bring your National Lottery ticket or scratch card with you on the day of the tour. There are more details at svrtrust.org.uk
Photo: Yana Northen
10,000 schoolchildren visited the SVR in 2019
Education officer Helen Russell writes:
Our Education Department has had another very successful year, with nearly 10,000 children travelling up and down the Railway. The SVR offers a range of options to educational groups, from trips along the line, to Engine House visits and tailored packages linked to the National Curriculum. The best-selling ‘Wartime Britain’ trip is always popular – no doubt, many of you will have seen our evacuees ready to board their steam train to safety! This year has also seen the introduction of out-of-season trips to The Engine House, where school groups are able to make their own way to Highley and take advantage of the wonderful exhibits on offer.
We have such a fantastic team delivering our educational packages, who each bring with them a wide range of skills. This enables us to provide all children with a quality learning experience, which also promotes the Railway and what it has to offer. As a result, the feedback we receive is always extremely positive. We would like to extend our thanks to all of the volunteers who have supported us throughout the season; we quite simply would not be able to do this without you!
Look out for the launch of the Education Department’s brand new adult learning programme ‘Nostalgia Express’ in the new year!
Photo: Some members of the education team by Kenny Felstead
Open top Warwickshire!
Saturday 6th October saw the removal of the cab roof of 0-6-0ST Manning Wardle 2047 at Bewdley, as part of the locomotive’s heavy overhaul. David Cooke from the Warwickshire Industrial Locomotive Trust added:
“We have subsequently removed the works plate, handrail and water valve handles and fittings from both cab sides, to allow removal of rust. We have also created a new working area by building a wooden cage over the frames to carry a tarpaulin cover.”
A great deal of work was completed on 2047 at Bridgnorth before the locomotive was towed to Bewdley in March 2019 for further restoration to take place. The Trust intends to have the locomotive back in working order, with a new boiler, before its centenary in 2026.
For more images of the overhaul, see the Warwickshire Industrial Locomotive Trust website.
Photo: David Cooke
Bewdley in miniature
Philip Chatfield has alerted us to an article in the current edition of British Railway Modelling magazine, which features the work of Graham Heald and the Wirral and North Wales Model Railway Club. They’ve created a 18 x 8 ft layout, based on Bewdley station during the 1960s, before the Severn Valley line was closed by British Rail. Philip says:
“The SVR has hit the headlines again, with this amazing recreation of Bewdley station. It’s quite surreal to see the station on a scale of 4mm to the foot, especially when I know the full scale version so well from working on the stonework in my role as a stonemason. It just shows how deep the following goes for what we do here at the SVR. Well done to the modellers.”
Now arriving at Kidderminster
The newest addition to rolling stock on the SVR arrived at Kidderminster on 29th October. BR (Western Region) Brake Third 2242 was purchased by the Great Western (SVR) Association and Gareth Price commented:
“It has been purchased from the estate of the late Dennis Howells, who completed most of the restoration with a small team at Quainton Road. There are still a few areas to finish off which we expect to take four to six months. Another brake Third will be useful at the SVR as it means there is one for each GW set.”
The coach was part of an order placed by GWR before nationalisation, but because of post-war shortages of materials was not finally built until 1950 by Metropolitan Cammell to the Hawksworth-GWR design. It was later converted to a departmental vehicle in 1967/68 at Wolverton works, and used as a mess / tool van.
Photo: Mick Haynes
Bridgnorth station update
The SVR Holdings board recently reviewed the status of the Bridgnorth Project. After the completion of phase I - the refreshment room, a project Team has been progressing plans and obtaining tenders for the Bridgnorth turntable pit, restoration of the turntable, renewal of track work in Bridgnorth yard and the provision of a new loco pit. General manager Nick Ralls explains further:
“The civils costs for the turntable have been received. However, during the tender period, only two companies quoted. The quotes had massive variances and were much more expensive than first envisaged. The directors agreed that as a result, a longer tender period would be given and more companies encouraged to tender for the work. Sadly, this will inevitably delay this phase of the development.”
The project team, with help from architect Phil Howl, is developing;
Plans and costs for improvements in the public realm, specifically the area around the station building, refreshment room, donkey gallop and the area by the level crossing.
A review of plans for the development of the station building conservation and extension of the bar, and the establishment of a cost estimate for this phase.
Nick added, “The board will then be in a better position to assess the plans and costs for the remaining phases of the project, and make an informed decision on how these phases will progress, utilising the remaining share offer funds and other opportunities such as applications to grant giving bodies.”
Bin there, done that…
While more major works are being considered to improve the ‘public realm’ at Bridgnorth, the volunteer ‘Wailing Wall Construction Company‘ is undertaking a heavy project to improve the station area. Chris Thomas, station master at Bridgnorth explained:
“The project is to improve the vista alongside the north end level crossing, which is the public route from the new car park. It will replace the big waste skip with an enclosed bay adjacent to the cattle dock, to hold several smaller skips out of public view. An angle iron framework has been erected, with corrugated sheets painted in GWR Light Stone to be attached.
“The team has removed the heavy concrete slab which had the parking ticket machine affixed to it - since the removal of the new buffet, it is out of place. The gang has set the base plate of the parking ticket machine on a slab of fresh concrete, and the machine will be reinstated when the heavy work is complete and power supply reconnected. The lighting poles fastened to the former-buffet will also be reinstated in a new position.”
Chris also has this appeal: “Most of the brick paving along the front of the station store hut was reinstated after the power trunking was laid into position. WWCC now need a brickie to complete the work! If you are a retired brickie fancying a new hobby, or you know one, we meet Tuesday and Saturday in great humoured company. Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org!”
Photo: Sue Thomas
Our October edition included an ‘in memoriam’ tribute to Peter. Since then his funeral has taken place in Gloucester attended by several SVR members and at which an address was given by Colomb Howell. Over the weekend of 19th and 20th October, two locomotives carried a wreath in Pete’s memory – GWR 2-8-0 2857 on Saturday and GWR 0-6-0 Pannier tank engine 7714 on the Sunday dining train. Peter, in his quiet way, touched many SVR lives. David Williams, editor of SVR News, has said that Peter was certainly one of the SVR’s most knowledgeable steam locomotive engineers and had been a quiet footplate companion who, if necessary, could often repair a locomotive ‘on the hoof’. Richard Hill
Another sad passing of a great character is Gerry Bennett, who was a good supporter of the Severn Valley Railway and of the LNER carriage restoration group. Gerry was perhaps best known to many people as the 1940s event ‘spiv’ dealing in dodgy black market items. Gerry revelled in this rôle and attended these events on the SVR and elsewhere. He also is fondly remembered by our LNER group as he contributed when he could to our fundraising – including sponsoring one of the end-carriage teak panels to complete the restoration of LNER Brake Third 24506. Gerry was also involved in the B17 Steam Locomotive Trust’s project to recreate a new-build Gresley 4-6-0 Class B17 Spirit of Sandringham.
David Williams, who shared Gerry’s mutual love of the B17s, says Gerry was fiercely supportive of the SVR though not afraid to point out what he saw as our railway’s shortcomings. Hugh McQuade of the SVR’s Engineering Services Carriage & Wagon Department, says one of Gerry’s regrets was never to have seen one of the restored Thompson Class B1 4-6-0 locos visit the SVR to haul our superb set of Gresley teak carriages.
Following notice of Gerald's passing, a celebration of his life will be held at Cheltenham Crematorium Oak Chapel on Tuesday 5th November at 12.30 pm and afterwards at The Bayshill Public House, 85 St George's Place, Cheltenham GL50 3PP to which the family cordially invite all railway friends. Richard Hill
It is with much sadness that we report the passing of Tom Moore. Tom was sales officer for the 2857 Group for a number of years, and was also very active with the 82045 group. The funeral took place on 29th October at Streetly Crematorium, followed by a celebration of Tom’s life at the Fairlawns Hotel in Walsall. Our thoughts are with Tom’s family at this sad time. Barry Moreton, VLO
Photos below: 43106 with wreath, and 7714 from Tony Carwithen. Gerry Bennett RIP.
Mick Haynes writes:
External painting has progressed well including lining and lettering, meanwhile one bogie is complete and the second requires only brake blocks and the bow girders, which they anticipate will be complete soon. The vehicle will then still need batteries, vacuum cylinders and dynamo before completion.
Although this GWR corridor composite first arrived on the SVR back in 1972, it wasn’t until December 2014 that it moved to Bewdley so volunteers could make a start to restore it to its former glory.
The owners, The Great Western (SVR) Association, own over 20 carriages and other items of rolling stock on the SVR. Membership of the Association, one of the several registered charities on the railway, is available to all.
There are regular updates and more details on the restoration of the 1928-built 6045 on the GW (SVR) Association’s website.
Photo: Rob Massey
Then and now!
Two pictures of a class 37 - just 12 miles but 44 years apart - with the same chap in the seat on both occasions. One at Bromsgrove on is a 16-year old Bob Dunn, on his first week of nights, working on the Lickey Bankers in 1975. The other shows Bob on the SVR this September, driving 37688 ‘Great Rocks’.
Bob said, “Preserving heritage railways and memories whilst ensuring that others can also enjoy the same is what it's all about for me.”
Getting ready for this winter’s Falling Sands restoration
Tree clearance by volunteers has begun at the old sugar beet sidings at Foley Park, in preparation for a temporary road access and contractors’ compound from the adjacent Silverwoods development. Chis Bond, Infrastructure Manager, explains:
"This will provide access for Walsh Construction who will be carrying out major winter work on Falling Sands Viaduct. In preparation for this, St Francis Group (the adjacent landowner) are carrying out land remediation hence the recent signs of fresh earthworks.
“Whilst the Kidderminster to Bewdley section is closed for 12 weeks to facilitate the Viaduct’s restoration, we’ll also use the opportunity to re-lay up to a mile of track and include new point work which will also pave the way for the possible future development of a wagon shed and sidings at Foley Park.
“In the longer term, the access road will be made permanent and include a loco unloading facility to relieve the difficult access at Kidderminster station. Additionally, the permanent road will provide emergency access, particularly as a previous entry point at Stourport Road Bridge was blocked off with new building."
Photo: Rob Steward
Hello and goodbye at Bridgnorth MPD
Volunteer shed master Martin White writes with the latest from the Motive Power Department:
The brief respite from daily running didn’t seem to last long before half-term came around, along with the additional challenge of providing a steam loco to replace a diesel which has had steam heat boiler problems. But that’s just the sort of challenge a heritage railway will always throw at you.
Fortunately, we have enough locos to go around, including 34027, which successfully passed its annual insurance exam, referred to in last month’s notes. Whilst this isn’t exactly big news, it is something that we never take for granted with any locomotive. The insurance examiner might find something serious enough to stop a loco, but if they did do so it would come as a big surprise to the MPD, as our maintenance and examination regime is usually on top of everything.
Early November will see some changes to the loco fleet. 813 will return from Didcot, which was the last stop on its summer tour. 4144, the GWR large prairie, will be going the other way, returning to its home base. I expect that many people will have enjoyed seeing it on the SVR; it’s a type of loco very appropriate to our line, and a taster for the future when 4150 is steamed. Also featuring in the loco changes will be the well-publicised appearance of A1 pacific ‘Tornado’. Somewhat the opposite to a large prairie - not at all appropriate to our line, but very appropriate to our splendid LNER teak carriages. I would certainly expect it to be popular with our visitors. I think I can also say, based on its previous visits, that it will be welcomed back by most of our footplate crews too.
Although it has been planned for a little while, Tornado’s actual arrival at Bridgnorth MPD will be missed by almost everyone. The expected on shed arrival time is Sunday morning, about 02:00 am. Who ever thought that being mainline support crew was glamorous?
The November loco arrivals on SVR don’t end there, and by the time you’re reading this another ‘welcome back’ to the SVR will have occurred. 46100 ‘Royal Scot’ is visiting for a couple of weeks of running-in tests, although for business reasons it will not operate any public services during this visit
Looking forward to 2020, it is still scheduled for the heavy overhaul of Stanier Mogul 13268 (previously 42968) to be completed during the year. The last few days of October have seen the locomotive’s wheels returned to their rightful places, under the frames, as shown in the attached photos*. The other SVR loco overhaul, of 4930 ‘Hagley Hall’, continues to make steady progress. The cylinder blocks have been removed following their successful trial fitting, to have work done to them before final fitting. Plans to pressure test these new untried castings are being detailed. 2020 steaming for Hagley too? Yes, if all goes to plan*.
*Please see our separate articles giving more details about the restorations of 13268 and 4930
Photos: John Oates
Stanier Mogul 13268 is rewheeled
It was a momentous day for this locomotive on 29th October as re-wheeling took place, marking a significant step towards the completion of it overhaul and a return to steam. Work continues at Bridgnorth at a rapid pace, and a brief summary follows.
Much work has been centred about preparations for the re-wheeling, such as assembling axleboxes and spring gear. There are also some gaps in the framework to allow access to perform the initial lift which will be attended to now that re-wheeling has taken place.
In the boiler shop, the job of fitting the firebox steel outer backplate (or backhead) goes on, with it bolted in place ready for riveting and welding as appropriate. Parts of the original side sheets have been cut away to allow access for the boilersmith to weld the new and old sections together behind the normal rear end of the sides.
Many parts have been brought out of storage and grit blasted by contractors to remove all old paint and rust, and then transferred to the paint shop. These include boiler bands, firebox and boiler cladding, front foot framing and front running steps.
Work continues on the tender and loco brake adjusters, the latter now straight instead of the threads being so worn it had a distinct banana shape!
The Stanier Mogul Fund issues regular overhaul updates with many images which show the enormous amount of work underway.
4930 Hagley Hall progress
The Friends of Hagley Hall (part of the SVR Charitable Trust) have issued a short update.
The planned removal of 4930’s new cylinder blocks from its frames has taken place. This scheduled activity will ensure that final adjustments to the frames are completed before permanent assembly. Removal of the cylinders has also simplified machining of the back faces in order to ensure proper seating of retaining nuts and will facilitate easier fitting of the valve liners.
The eccentrics are now complete apart from the bushes, and in the machine shop apprentice Harry Coates is hard at work producing new locomotive spring hangers.
Work on the boiler at Stockton is proceeding well, and ahead of its return, an order has been placed for the manufacture of a new set of superheater elements.
The overhaul is being supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund which awarded a grant of £95,000 to the SVR Charitable Trust to help with 4930’s restoration and to enable apprentices from the SVR’s Heritage Skills Training Academy to play an active part in this work.
Photo: Friends of 4930 Hagley Hall.
Help needed to prepare for Christmas
As the Christmas season approaches, there’s a lot to do before the arrival of the man in red! We’ve sold more than 17,500 Santa tickets so far and we’ve still got over a month to sell even more. As many months of hard work come together, some of the vital pieces of the puzzle are making their way to Kidderminster (although sadly not by reindeer-drawn sleigh!)
Help is needed on Friday 8th November between 8 and 11am to transfer 10,000 presents into four rail vehicles.
And on Monday 25th November, it’s carriage decoration time, between 8 and 11am at both Kidderminster and Bridgnorth. We’ve bought hundreds of baubles over a 1km of bunting to make everything look wonderful.
Finally, assistance is required on Tuesday 26th November (all day) to help fitting rope lights to the Steam in Lights set of carriages at Bridgnorth.
If you’re able to spare a few hours on any of these days, please contact , 01562 757910 or extension 560.
SVR seeks Shropshire family charities to apply for FREE Santa seats
To celebrate the return of the SVR’s Santa services to Bridgnorth after 40 years, we’re running an extra-special Santa service, dedicated entirely to local family charities.
Steaming from Bridgnorth at 4.25pm on Sunday, December 1st, the special service will give Shropshire families the chance to enjoy a magical ride through the Severn Valley with Santa on board – all for free.
The Railway is now looking to divide the 176 seats among a range of family-based charities around Bridgnorth, Shrewsbury and Telford. If you know of a charity that could benefit from this superb opportunity, please encourage them to get in touch by emailing email@example.com as soon as possible.
First mention of SVR discovered by volunteer
Wagons team volunteer Graham Phillips has been researching SVR history in The British Newspaper Archive and has uncovered a wealth of material. The article pictured is an early mention of the Severn Valley Railway in a newspaper, in a 'preliminary announcement' in the Sun (London) on Saturday 24 July 1847 – some 15 years before the SVR eventually opened! Graham is loading articles to the SVR Forum.
Graham’s research has also revealed many stories of the dangers to, and misdemeanours of, the navvies who built the SVR. In November 1859, 160 years ago this month, John Owen, a labourer engaged in constructing the Severn Valley Railway, appeared at Condover petty sessions charged with stealing a spade from Thomas Jones, a fellow workman. These fascinating accounts have been uploaded to the SVR Wiki, If you’re unaware of the Wiki, it is a volunteer project to collect information and record events relating to the SVR, both past and present. We hope you enjoy them.
Photo: © The British Library Board. All rights reserved. It may not be used for any other purpose without explicit permission from the copyright holder. With thanks to The British Newspaper Archive.
"No luck catching them swans then?"
"It's just the one swan actually"*
Hampton Loade station had an unusual visitor on 20th October - a swan! This poor soul had a close encounter with 7714 and the dining train near Unicorn Crossing and ended up making its way to the station platform.
The station staff managed to contain the bird until an RSPCA officer arrived to take it for treatment to its injuries. So, let that be a lesson to all - don't go swanning about on the railway line!
*Hot Fuzz (2007), written by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg.
Photo: J Phillips (This story originally appeared on the Hampton Loade station Facebook page)
Quiet times at Bewdley
Our thanks to Carriage & Wagon volunteer Mike Catton who sent us these unusual shots, taken at Bewdley station. Mike explains,
“With some time on my hands, a mid tone, a late September grey sky and no services running, I decided to explore the resting rolling stock at Bewdley Station. No shadows were being cast, which allowed the reflections on windows and water to be strong, vibrant and detailed. I simply meandered around focused on the vertical or horizontals, perhaps a splash of vibrant colour being reflected too, then composed a shot accordingly. I carried out some minor processing in photoshop,to give either colour enhancement, or improve lighting.”
We’re delighted to share Mike’s reflective images with you.
Selection of four photos by Mike Catton