LNER Thompson-designed Class B1 61306 ‘Mayflower’ on the first day of test trains at Hay Bridge on 31st October 2022. Photo by Keith Wilkinson.
Welcome to your latest edition of Express Points!
There’s no denying that the SVR’s ‘purple loco’, repainted to commemorate Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee this year was always going to be a marmite thing. And for those who haven’t been fans, something new is on the horizon. Discover what’s in store next for 34027 in your November edition of Express Points.
A short-term visitor has been in residence during the current public shutdown– 61306 ‘Mayflower’ – as part of the SVR’s ongoing partnership with Locomotive Services Group. They wanted somewhere to familiarise and train their crew, and where better than the 16 miles of our line?
Plus there’s an update on how the Bridgnorth Yard project is progressing, the replacement footbridge has arrived at Kidderminster and there’s stacks of news from across the Railway, covering rolling stock, people, history and our preparations for the busy Christmas season.
After last month’s newsletters, we received some very positive feedback from readers of our sister publication, Branch Lines, which goes to shareholders, members, donors and close supporters. It’s wonderful to know that we’re keeping people in the loop about the SVR, the challenges it faces, and how we are working to overcome them. Sheila W wrote: “Very many thanks for all the info. Much appreciated.” This came from Charles H: “Brilliant. Really enjoyed your latest edition.” Dave H wrote from down under: “Hi and greetings from Perth, Australia! Enjoyed your magazine this month and especially the link to the Sellick Collection.” And from the chairman of Network Rail, Sir Peter Hendy: “The financial update is particularly good if not wholly comfortable! [It's] particularly clear, lucid and thoughtful.”
We very much hope you enjoy this month’s edition just as much!
Lesley and Patrick, co-editors
The Express Points team is Lesley Carr, Patrick Hearn, Amy Baker and Nicola Fox
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Severn Valley Railway unveils wartime livery for 34027
The Severn Valley Railway has revealed another striking identity for 34027 ‘Taw Valley’ – it will be repainted in matt black, with sunshine yellow cab number and lettering on the tender, replicating the austerity livery carried by Southern Railways engines during the Second World War. The nameplates will be red, and the loco will carry its original SR number, 21C127.
The repaint is scheduled for early 2023 during the shutdown period. An original plan to repaint 34027 this autumn was changed because of an operational need for the locomotive to be available for the extensive range of Christmas services, through till early January.
Head of steam engineering Duncan Ballard explained the thinking behind the move:
“We’ve chosen this livery not only because we know it’s going to spark plenty of interest amongst heritage enthusiasts and the public, but also because it offers us a very practical short-term solution. We need to replace 34027’s purple livery because that was purely for the Platinum Jubilee year. Applying matt black paint will be a hugely labour-saving job, just as it was when it was used during the war. We plan to carry out this out in January, so the loco is ready to enter service when we reopen in early March.
“34027 will be needed to haul public services through till autumn 2023, at which point we’ll withdraw it from traffic for an intermediate overhaul, which is likely to see the locomotive out of traffic for a year or so. Following this essential maintenance, we’ll repaint it back into full British Railways green with red and black lining. Putting it back into this livery is definitely something we want to take our time to complete to the highest of standards.”
Speaking on behalf of Taw Valley Limited which owns the locomotive, Phil Swallow said:
“Our loco wasn’t built until 1946, the year after the Second World War had ended. It was then rebuilt by British Railways in the 1950s into the form we see today. In reality it would never have carried a matt black livery in its rebuilt form. So, this will be an unusual example of a ‘what if’ livery.”
“As the owners of ‘Taw Valley’, and just like the SVR, we’re no strangers to pushing a few boundaries. We’re right behind the idea of an austerity locomotive and can’t wait to see it next year.”
The Railway created ripples around the heritage railway world when it painted 34027 purple earlier this year and renamed it ‘Elizabeth II’ to commemorate the late Queen Elizabeth’s Platinum Jubilee. The move proved a huge draw for many thousands of visitors, who flocked to see it in person, and to travel behind the head-turning loco.
Photo: Taw Valley nameplate restored to loco 34027 still in purple at Bewdley 30th October 2022. John Sherratt
‘Mayflower’ makes its first runs on SVR metals!
The Railway welcomed LNER Thompson-designed Class B1 61306 ‘Mayflower’ at the end of October for a short visit. Owned by Locomotive Services Group, who are based at Crewe, this is the first time that ‘Mayflower’ has visited the SVR.
Although not used for any public services, the locomotive has been out and about on the line, allowing LSG crews to get to grips with its newly installed air-braking system.
‘Mayflower’ is one of only two B1s that survived into preservation and follows in the tracks of other Locomotive Services Group engines, ‘Braunton’, ‘Britannia’, ‘Royal Scot’ and ‘Sir Nigel Gresley’ which have all visited the Severn Valley Railway for testing in recent years. The training runs began on Monday 31st October for a week whilst the SVR’s public services were halted to prepare for the busy Christmas schedule, giving the locomotive the run of the Railway. Ian Walker, head of steam locomotive engineering for LNWRH, part of LSG said:
“This is the perfect venue for us. The main line connection at Kidderminster makes accessing the SVR very easy. We’ve clocked up 96 miles each day, and that's given our staff around 10 hours a day on the footplate. We've trained three members of staff, who are all at different stages of their footplate development. The whole exercise has gone very well indeed and we've had complete freedom to follow the needs of our training over the course of our stay here.”
With training now concluded, ‘Mayflower’ received its fitness-to-run exam at Bewdley prior to main line departure yesterday (8th November) to return to Crewe behind two diesels. Mike Ball, chairman of Severn Valley Railway, said:
“Over recent years, we’ve strengthened our relationship with Locomotive Services Group, and we are very pleased to have hosted them again, along with another of their impressive engines.”
Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.
Bridgnorth Locomotive Yard gets closer to restoration
Support has been pouring in for Bridgnorth Locomotive Yard which is in urgent need of restoration. The yard – used daily for steam locomotive servicing and maintenance – is deteriorating rapidly, especially as weather conditions turn. The track is heavily worn and drainage across the yard is clogged, so every time it rains, more water pools around the tracks, rusting rails and rotting sleepers.
However, hope is on the horizon for the yard, which is vital to the Railway’s ability to operate. £182,000 has been raised for the restoration project so far, taking the appeal to well over a third of its total target of £500,000.
As a result, the project team – led by volunteer project manager Nick Yarwood, who oversaw the successful delivery of the Falling Sands restoration – has started making preparations to deliver the first, most critical phase of the project in early 2023. This involves repairs to the main station turnout and the cross-over from the main running line.
“If you've travelled on the train recently, you may have noticed marking out pegs on the approach to Bridgnorth, placed by permanent way manager Barry Light.” said Nick. “These mark the new positions of the turnouts for volunteers to carry out preparatory work soon. It's important to move the point work off the Cleobury Road bridge so that the gradient into the yard can be smoothed out. This will reduce the wear on the track as engines make their way over the turnouts into the yard for coaling, water and maintenance.
“Trial holes have been excavated in the yard to determine ground conditions, and this has revealed that it’s very compacted and dense, resulting in poor drainage of the track bed. This insight will help with optimising the drainage design.
“With volunteer assistance, we’re now carrying our preparatory work, including digging out the ballast beds in the track (which will be lifted during the winter shut down) and filling one-tonne bags of ballast at Eardington, ready to be hauled in by train to where they're needed.”
However, Nick and the team are battling against rapidly rising inflation, with the cost of materials leaping week by week. They’ve done an amazing job of securing materials for the first phase at the best price, sourcing good-quality, second hand resources at every opportunity and new items only where essential.
The team now urgently needs to secure the rest of the materials required to complete the full project. You can see details of all the elements in scope here.
Although the work will be delivered in phases around the Railway’s operations – and so the next part of the project will take place several months after the first – it’s vital that material purchases are made as soon as possible to avoid the cost of the project rocketing and delays hampering the Railway’s ability to operate. Remember - no track, no trains!
Please donate today at svrtrust.org.uk
Photo: Nick Yarwood at the crossover which will be renewed. The two blue pegs were placed by Barry Light, so Matt Morgan's S&T team can determine the details in the work ahead. Oliver Renwick
Kidderminster footbridge is back!
Express Points readers will be aware of the Network Rail (NR) project to replace the long footbridge at Kidderminster. We’ve news that the bridge has reopened, following work by Story Contracting Limited (SCL), and our thanks are due to SVR volunteer and SCL professional Chris Baines for keeping us informed throughout the project. Chris tells Express Points:
As reported last month, the bridge lift was delayed at the last minute by the absence of a bridge! We always build in some contingency, and additional possessions had been booked so we wouldn’t have to wait eight weeks to get NR access. The following weekend of 15th/16th October was utilised instead.
The bridge was transported to site on the 14th October. We had a crane. Now we just needed decent weather! Luckily the mild wind and rain were not enough to stop the lift and, once the possession of the SVR lines was granted, the crane was set up.
The first stage was to fit the smoke plates to the underside of the bridge. However, not all the bolt holes were lining up and it was decided to install the bridge without them.
As soon as all staff and equipment were clear, the bridge was lifted, slewed and lowered into place with very little fuss. Shortly after the east-side steps were lifted into place. This lift was fussier than the main span, as the chains needed to be adjusted several times to ensure the stairs were lifted square, as the steps sit tight to the main span. As soon as the chains were removed and the engineer was happy with the levels, the race to be the first to cross the bridge was on!
The crane was de-rigged and all lines handed back well before the start of SVR services. Our thanks to Matt Morgan for staying up all night as the person in charge of possession.
There were still the smoke plates to fit. We were able to take advantage of the reduced timetable and fit two of the smoke plates during daytime line blockages on the 19th October. A block and tackle were fitted to either side of the bridge over the 'four-foot’ to lift the smoke plate, and a mobile elevated work platform (MEWP) used to access the bolts.
The third and final smoke plate was fitted in a well-co-ordinated operation the following weekend.
In the following weeks the stair handrails were fitted, fencing works completed, the rubber expansion joints installed and footpath surfacing completed. The bridge opened to the public on Monday 31st October.
SCL hope to be off-site before the end of November. Before the project sign off, some works remain, including NR boundary fencing, removal of the temporary generator and old DNO cubicle [outdoor electrical cabinet - Editor], final regrading of the SVR access route into the TMD (diesel depot), and installation of the fence and gates.
What's coming up?
Pantomime is coming to town!
Oh yes it is!
The Christmas set up is well under way at Arley station. The marquee was installed in the run up to Halloween and is 20% bigger than last year, so it can accommodate the greater number of passengers that can now travel following the end of social distancing. The marquee will also feature tiered seating for the first time, bringing a true theatre feel to Arley station.
Head of commercial and visitor experience Michael Dunn told Express Points: “The scale of construction at Arley is very impressive and shows how popular Christmas is at the SVR.
“With a brand-new pantomime for 2022 featuring the SVR’s much loved elves Jingle and Jangle we’re encouraging people to book now to avoid disappointment.”
Steam in Lights services commence on 18th November. Following visitor feedback, services from the 30th November, 7th and 14th December will be moved to the post-Christmas period and will run on the evenings of 29th, 30th and 31st December.
Enchanted Express services start on 26th November.
Sales promotion has been ramping up, as head of marketing & communications Lesley Carr explains: "Leaflets to increase Steam in Lights sales will drop today (Thursday 10th November) inside free newspapers the Wolverhampton Chronicle and the Telford Journal. We have also featured in two weeks of Steam in Lights advertising on Sky Smart TV.”
Michael added: “The ‘Black Friday’ pre-Christmas sales take place towards the end of this month, when there'll be special offers available through the Railway’s website and social media channels!
“In another great value-for-money offer, every child who comes to Santa, Steam in Lights or Enchanted Express will receive a free ticket to return in 2023.
“Please continue to publicise our events and to share our social media posts on your own pages. A huge thank you to all teams involved in making this happen.”
More information and bookings are at svr.co.uk
Photos: Preparing 120 kites for one of the Steam in Lights displays. Lewis Maddox
Construction of the Christmas marquee underway at Arley. Michael Dunn
On Sunday 13th November, Kidderminster town station will hold its annual remembrance service, with an open invitation to attend.
The service will begin at 10:45am including a ceremony of prayers and hymns. There will be a pause at 11:00am for the customary two-minute silence.
Once again, the Stanier 8F Locomotive Society has provided the names of Railway Sappers who were casualties in the Second World War, with 58 casualties who died in 1941 and 1942 remembered in this year’s service. As a locomotive with a unique military history, 48773 was dedicated in 1986 as a memorial to those military railwaymen of the Corps of Royal Engineers (Transportation) who lost their lives in World War II.
Twenty years ago this month, the Society compiled a roll of honour and books of remembrance commemorating 354 known casualties. Since 2008, these have been on display in The Engine House; the names of 54 further WWII casualties were added at a later date and marked by a ceremony in 2011. Visitors to The Engine House can see the rolls of honour and information panels describing the history of the Railway Royal Engineers alongside 48773.
One surprise on the list of names is that of Sir Herbert Nigel Gresley, CME of the LNER, who at his death in 1941 held the rank of Lieutenant Colonel as a member of the Engineer & Railway Staff Corps, part of the Royal Engineers (RE).
A holder of the Victoria Cross also features. Norman Harvey won his VC in the First World War but re-enlisted at the outbreak of the Second. He is one of 22 casualties whose last resting place is overseas, having been buried in Mandatory Palestine, in a part that is now in Israel. Others are buried in Bangladesh, Egypt, Eritrea, Greece, India, Sudan, Iraq and Iran, where 48773 also served in 1942 as part of 190 Railway Operating Company, RE.
The full list of names is available on the Society's website at www.8fsociety.co.uk
Photo: 48773 carrying wreath and headboard for Remembrance Day
Extra Christmas volunteering opportunities
The events team need your help to make sure the SVR’s Christmas events are outstanding. They’re looking for volunteer assistance and would love to hear from you if you can get involved. Events manager Lewis Maddox explains:
Present unloading, 14th December A second, smaller delivery of Christmas presents will arrive at Kidderminster Town station. We will need help between 8.30 am to 11.00 am to unload them.
The Enchanted Express from Bridgnorth, all dates 26th and 27th November and 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th, 17th, 18th, 23rd and 24th December. We will need present distributors who, as the job title suggests, distribute the presents into compartments whilst the train is re-set at Bridgnorth ahead of the three departures. Train managers are also required.
Santa Trains from Kidderminster, all dates 26th and 27th November and 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th, 17th, 18th and 20th to 24th December. Can you help with present distribution on the trains or serving our passengers hot drinks at Kidderminster?
If you’re available, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org or 01562 757910. Your help will be much appreciated.
The SVR supports Bewdley’s Christmas light switch on
The Railway is supporting Bewdley town’s Christmas lights switch on! Events manager Lewis Maddox told Express Points: “On the evening of 26th November we will run a diesel-hauled ‘park and ride’ public service between Kidderminster and Bewdley, departing from Kidderminster at 4.30pm and returning from Bewdley at 7.30pm and 8.45pm.
“Tickets for the service will be £5 per person for a return, or £2.50 for a single. Tickets are available to purchase in advance, or on the day from Kidderminster booking office or on the train. As this train is not in the public timetable, passes and shareholder vouchers are not valid, and there are no reductions for members. We’re delighted to support this local event.”
Across the Railway
SVR Strategy success at Kidderminster station
Things have been busy during the last few weeks at Kidderminster town station. A number of projects have come to fruition that were identified by volunteers as part of the SVR Strategy initiative.
Contractors have been giving the station a new coat of paint to spruce up the dagger board, windows, doors and the outside catering kitchen.
The ladies toilets have also been given a much-needed upgrade, with new pans and replacement cisterns. These have greatly reduced the refill time which was causing problems during busy parts of the day.
By the time Christmas services begin, work to restore the string of gas lamps along the length of the platform should be complete.
“It's been wonderful to see work taking place to upgrade Kidderminster station,” said station master Geoff Smith. “I am looking forward to seeing the work completed on the gas lamps after they’ve been out of action for such a long time. This will really help maintain the authentic environment at Kidderminster.”
Photos: Kidderminster station ladies toilet upgrade and contractors. Mike Anderson
New cohort at the Junior Club
The SVR's resurrected Junior Club held an induction session for a new cohort on the 22nd October. This was an important milestone as the club has wrestled with getting things back onto an even footing after the Covid-19 shutdown.
The induction included a whistle stop tour of the south end of the line, before the first proper meeting the following Saturday, 29th October, saw a day at Kidderminster.
Club leader Nick Willcox told Express Points: “The Coalyard Miniature Railway had found us a nice big heap of spoil to shift. The juniors worked really well, demonstrating how much an enthusiastic bunch of youngsters can achieve, and we made quite a dent in the heap by mid-afternoon.
“They were able to see B1 Mayflower arrive (accompanied by ex-JC member Kian Steed) and get some photos from the platform. Later in the day they were able to ‘cab’ Whistler 40106. Finally, after setting out the Halloween decorations for the evening’s ghost train service, everyone got a first driving lesson on a miniature loco.
“Thanks are due to those who have supported the resurrection of the club, and to those at Highley, the TMD (diesel depot), the Coalyard Railway, Bewdley North and the 40’s footplate crew for their hospitality.
“Also thanks to the Volunteer Liaison Office’s inductions and retention co-ordinator Ann Hartley, for setting up and running the new recruitment process.”
The club is still looking for more new leaders to shadow existing senior leaders and help out with the groups on activity days. Additionally, if your department or station needs something doing that would suit the younger members as part of an activity day, there's always room for new ideas. Please contact email@example.com
Click on the gallery for larger images.
28th November will mark the 10th anniversary of an unusual visitor to the Railway. Metropolitan Railway 0-4-4T No 1 came to the SVR for high-speed testing, prior to participating in the London Underground events in 2013.
It’s set your editors thinking about other rolling stock, resident on the line or visiting, with a London Underground connection. An obvious one is resident L.95 (Ex-GWR pannier 5764) in The Engine House, but can you think of others? Have a look at the gallery to remind yourself!
In addition, during the 1990s a number of SVR-based locomotives appeared in the 'Steam on the Met'.
Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.
1962 and all that
Sixty years ago this month, a meeting of the Transport Users Consultative Committee (TUCC) was held at Bridgnorth Town Hall to hear opinions on the proposed closure of the Severn Valley branch to passenger traffic. The meeting was held on the 8th November and was reported in the Birmingham Daily Post the following day.
“Mr. J.R. Rooley [of Shropshire County Council] said that many of the rural communities were as remote as if they lived in the wilds of Wales or Scotland. The number of people who would be deprived of transport was not great but they would be badly hit.”
The meeting heard how users would now have to trek two miles across fields or struggle a mile and a half up a steep hill to reach bus services, the timings of which were inconvenient for those travelling to work.
According to the Birmingham Daily Post objections were also made by several councils, as well as Birmingham Angler’s Association (on behalf of fishermen who regularly used the trains) racing pigeon fanciers, and a chicken breeder who used the line to transport livestock! Twelve days later the TUCC announced that it had submitted a report to the Minister of Transport confirming that closure of the line would cause hardship to users. It was all to no avail.
BR pressed on with the closure of the line and passenger services ceased in September 1963. In what the Mayor of Wenlock described as “British Railways trying to pull a fast one”, some weeks later BR announced they were giving “serious consideration” to ending freight traffic. An interesting statement given plans for the new power station had already been released showing the cooling towers occupying the site of the Severn Valley track! But that’s another story…
Photo: View northwards at Linley of Ivatt 2MT 41202 on a southbound service towards Bridgnorth on a misty 17th October 1962. From the Sellick collection, hosted online by the National Railway Museum
The more things change, the more they stay the same!
A century ago, hundreds of staff were employed across the Severn Valley Line which originally ran all the way from Kidderminster to Shrewsbury. Thanks to research by volunteer Graham Phillips, the Railway now has a comprehensive list of the staff numbers which were required for the effective running of each station, painting a clear picture of the differences (and similarities!) between then and now.
Unlike modern heritage railways, which cater for tourists, day trippers and enthusiasts, the Railway of 1922 carried both passengers and freight, necessitating goods yards and staff.
At Kidderminster, Bewdley, Highley and Bridgnorth, staff requirements were increased by the need for both passenger and goods porters, as well as other goods associated staff, including clerks and shunters.
However, in comparison, 21st century heritage railways cater to the leisure needs of their visitors, requiring staffed retail outlets on most stations on the SVR, something the railways of 1922 would not have needed!
While porters may no longer carry luggage and goods on the Railway, in their stead SVR platform staff are on hand to help passengers, improve customer experience, and ensure passenger safety. In some stations these numbers match (or even exceed!) their 1922 counterparts.
The biggest change can be seen at Kidderminster. In 1922, 57 staff looked after Kidderminster station and yard, although 24 of these were solely related to the goods yard, leaving 33 staff to keep the station operational. These days, only around 11 people are needed to run Kidderminster town station on a day-to-day basis; however, if the goods staff, additional signalmen and clerks are removed from the equation, a direct comparison of the number of SVR platform staff vs 1922 porters yields similar numbers.
The outlook at Bewdley is similar; goods porters, clerks and more signalmen boost the staff numbers to 19 in 1922 compared to eight nowadays. However, once again the number of porters to platform staff is on par.
Bridgnorth and Highley also follow the same trend, boasting higher overall numbers in 1922 than today, but once the lack of goods traffic is taken into account, the 21st century SVR utilises similar numbers of platform staff as in 1922.
There's quite a change at Arley. Back in 1922, the quieter stations required only two or three staff to run them. These days Arley station is usually operated with minimum complement of at least six staff! The difference in numbers here, is that Arley did not employ separate porters in 1922, with the role being covered by a porter signalman, who combined both duties into one role. Meanwhile on the modern day SVR, Arley maintains the standard of two platform staff per platform to top-and-tail trains for the best and safest passenger experience. The operation at Hampton Loade varies, from an unstaffed station in midweek with only the signalman onsite, to a full complement of upto three staff (including signalman) for the busier days.
What these figures show is that the biggest change lies in the lack of goods service and their administrative and logistical requirements. Meanwhile, in terms of uniformed, customer-facing platform staff, the SVR is much the same now as it was in 1922! The only difference is that instead of carrying bags and parcels, to keep passengers moving efficiently, the focus has moved onto customer safety and enjoyment.
Photo: Photos of the Valley in the early 1920s are uncommon. This undated image of Bewdley shows a steam railmotor (a self-propelled carriage powered by a vertical boiler steam engine at one end of the carriage) which were used on the Severn Valley branch until 1918
Bridgnorth MPD gears up for the festive season
While the Railway may seem quiet to the public eye, the reality behind closed doors is very different, as Bridgnorth shed master Martin White reports:
Despite appearances, the following is a very brief run-down of the situation regarding the current fleet as we head into the festive season.
34027 has returned to its BR number and the name ‘Taw Valley’. Having been used relatively lightly in 2022, the anticipated valve & piston exam has not yet become due, with just routine maintenance and repairs being carried out. 34027 will operate on the Santa services from Bewdley MPD and a temporary, interim repaint into matt black Southern livery will take place during the winter. (Editor’s note: there’s more detail on this in our lead story!)
1501 has received routine maintenance and minor repairs and continues to perform well, despite being close to the end of its boiler ticket at the end of this season.
7714 is nearing the end of a scheduled valve & piston exam within the works at Bridgnorth. This was a fairly light job, with just a few issues identified. A new blast pipe is required in the near future, and arrangements are being made to have a new casting supplied. The loco is to have its paintwork smartened up soon, as it’s looking worn in places.
The ‘Flying Pig’, 43106 is nearing the end of its boiler ticket, which expires in the summer of 2023 and the loco is largely being kept as spare, on account of its overall mechanical condition. In addition to the steam-brake bell-crank bracket repair, referred to in last month’s update, the main draw bar pin, that connects the loco and tender has had to be replaced. 43106 will probably be used at some point on the Santa trains.
75069 will operate the Steam in Lights services from Bridgnorth. A modification to the spark arrestor has been fitted which appears to dramatically reduce the spark emissions from the chimney. A valve & piston exam is scheduled for the closed season, and various repairs and refurbishment to items such as motion bearings will be attended to. This loco also requires some paintwork attention as the top of the boiler is starting to look a little shabby.
2857 like 1501, reaches the end of its boiler ticket at the end of this season, after operating on the Santa trains.
4930 ‘Hagley Hall’ has had various ‘snagging list’ items attended to. The regulator and operating rod have required quite a lot of work and modifications to the spark arrestor have been made with a night-time test scheduled. Subject to the testing of the spark arrestor and various repairs, some running on festive services has not been ruled out.
7812 ‘Erlestoke Manor’ is expected to have its live steam insurance examination at Tyseley Loco Works on 15th November, and if successful will be delivered back to SVR, by road, a week or so later, for the commencement of on-line testing and running in.
Finally, the broken frame casting on 813 has been removed, greatly eased by the works’ new overhead crane. A decision on the approach to repair is expected shortly.
Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.
Restoring accessible GWR buffet car 9581 – the first five years
This month marks the fifth anniversary of the project being undertaken by the LNER Carriage Group’s (LNERCG) volunteers in Bewdley yard to restore this vehicle. How time flies!
9581 is much-needed to fill a gap in the SVR’s carriage fleet. It's being created by rebuilding the body shell of 1928-built GWR Collett coach 5043 into a wheelchair-accessible buffet car, based on an old GWR diagram composite diner.
“The last year has mostly concerned decoration and fitting out work,” explained the LNERCG’s Richard Gunning. “The bar compartment is now painted in GWR green livery, a style that will be familiar to those who remember the 'Clapham' Buffet 9631*, the only surviving genuine GWR buffet car.”
The bar itself has been designed, as shown in the accompanying image, and construction will start shortly.
Richard continued: “The alarm chain, ‘Penalty for Improper Use £5’, is adapted to include two low level hand pulls within the easy reach of wheelchair users. In addition, the regulation pull cord emergency alarm has been obtained and will activate flashing lights and an audible sounder.
“Beautifully stained and varnished pelmets improve the look of the entire interior and a start has been made on refurbishment and installation of the internal doors.
“Fitting out of the WC progresses with most of the plumbing in place and tested. Wall and ceiling panels are in place and await painting before they can be permanently fixed. The same applies to the kitchen/stockroom, where storage shelves are under construction.
“The electrical installation is also now complete and, to save batteries, is working off a mains supply. Lamps are being installed as and when the relevant bit of ceiling is complete.”
The SVR Charitable Trust has been funding most of the fitting out work, thanks to the hard work of grants fundraising manager Ian Jones. You can make a donation at http://svrtrust.org.uk/Carriage-Restoration .
The volunteer gang aims to complete as much as can be done at Bewdley by August 2023. The staff and facilities at Kidderminster will then be needed to carry out a thorough mechanical overhaul of the running gear, suspension, brakes and pipework. Finally, 9581 will enter the paintshop for finishing in 1938-era GWR chocolate and cream livery. When all is deemed satisfactory, it will enter passenger service.
Great Western (SVR) Association members have also generously provided advice and many reproduction GWR fittings, lamps and photographs. The interior wood finish and much of the painting is thanks to a GW(SVR)A volunteer applying his skills to 9581 as well as to the Association’s own projects.
*Editor’s note - GWR 'Clapham' Buffet Car 9631 is part of the national collection and operated on the SVR from 1973-1991. It now resides at STEAM museum, Swindon.
Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.
Wagon update from Bewdley
It’s been some time since Express Points carried news of the volunteer wagon department that operates in and around the goods shed at Bewdley. Since Covid-19 restrictions were lifted, they work most Wednesdays and Saturdays. Team leader Steve Peplow tells us more:
Two major pre-Covid jobs have restarted. GWR 5-plank open 98480 is undergoing a major rebuild. Work so far has involved headstock replacement, repairs to cracked solebars, straightening of bent axleguards and replacing a broken buffer spring. Ian Hollis is completely rebuilding/rebushing the Dean-Churchward mark 3 handbrake systems; this is one of those jobs that goes largely unnoticed but is essential as the wear was so severe that it could fail completely. The brake overhaul is nearly complete, and work has turned to fitting floor and body planks.
The other major overhaul in the shed has been GWR Mica B (refrigerated meat van) 105873. Despite fairly recent work, this was found to have severe rot in its inner and outer body skin and some of the timber framework between them. This has now been attended to, but a new set of doors is still required, as again water ingress between the two skins has caused rot.
Better news comes from GWR conflat [container flat wagon] 39860 which had been returned to traffic in 2018 after a major repair. Owning group, the GWR 813 Preservation Fund purchased 39860 in 1987 with Oleo pneumatic buffers on one end and Dowty hydraulic buffers on the other. They wanted us to fit correct pattern buffers, but parts and casings supplied were found to be unsuitable. Bridgnorth patternmakers produced a pattern for a GWR long spindle casing, which enabled four correct casings to be cast. The vehicle was recalled, these were fitted, and 39860 returned to service looking much better.
Body repairs and repainting of GWR Mink A (covered goods van) 101961 started before Covid and have been completed so it was able to feature in the Gala goods train. It was replaced as the second wagon in the goods shed by another Mink A 93045 which required some minor body repairs and repainting. We even found a way to paint 93045’s roof without getting onto it.
However, we’re unable to carry out roof work due to condemned working at height equipment, and the number of wagons needing replacement roof canvasses continues to grow. A solution is being sought, but with very slow progress. This will also hinder future major jobs.
GWR loco coal wagon 83831 has come in for repainting, but also needs attention to all four carrying springs. Once repainted, it’s likely to remain at Bewdley out of use until the spring repairs can be funded.
Other work has included routine examinations on the Gala goods train, and a fitness-to-run exam on Mermaid DB989098 which, after a long period holding palisade fence panels at Bewdley, was needed at Bridgnorth to assist in the recent workshop development.
Graham Phillips is also progressing a plan, funded by the SVR Company Limited, to tidy up the worst of the wagons in the car park siding at Bewdley as a short-term measure until they can be given more serious attention.
Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.
Transports of delight - carriage works news
To some, they might not be to some as glamorous as our locomotives, but the heritage carriages on the Railway are arguably more important as they are where our paying visitors spend much of their time. Head of traction and rolling stock engineering Martin White gives Express Points an update from the Carriage & Wagon department at Kidderminster:
Aside from day to day running repairs and maintenance, scheduled mechanical and bodywork repairs are ongoing. The mechanical work is, to a large extent, driven by an existing schedule of bogie overhauls, with other work slotted in around them. Just recently, the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) bogies from 43612, the body of which is receiving a major repair in Bewdley paint shop, have been overhauled. At the same time the bogies from British Railways (BR) Mark 1 brake 9220 were removed, using the workshop lifting jacks, and sent away for tyre turning. Upon return they were reunited with the coach which then had the vehicle ride heights adjusted and axle weights checked.
In the bodywork shop at Kidderminster, the vehicle currently undergoing repair is London Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS) 24617, a carriage with a combination of first- and third-class compartments. Although an LMS design, it was actually built by BR at Derby in 1950. Its Severn Valley history is, in my opinion, both interesting and significant. Hugh McQuade proudly tells me that 24617 has operated in SVR trains at some point in every year since it was purchased from BR in 1968. It has even ventured onto the main line, attending a BR open day at Derby in 1973. The carriage has had various mechanical and bodywork repairs carried out over the intervening years, re-bedded windows, refurbished upholstery, flooring repairs, bogie overhaul, repaints, etc.
It was moved into the Kidderminster workshop for some repairs earlier this summer. The main concern was corrosion around the door pillars. However, as so often happens with these sorts of vehicles, once dismantling and detailed examination commenced, a considerable list of areas requiring attention was drawn up, which so far includes:
Carriage ends and sides – cut out corroded material and weld in new
Rewire of lighting and electric control system refurbishment
Reupholstery of 1st class and partial reupholster 3rd class
Windows re-bedding and rectify corrosion in sliding windows
Overhaul of doors
Re-bed roof vents
Replace toilet waste pipes and investigate a leak in the 1st class toilet
New roof tanks and cisterns for toilets
Small amount of asbestos removal from corridor heating using SVR approved works processes
and finally, a repaint and revarnish. All carried out by a mix of paid and volunteer personnel
In August, a less well-informed individual (that was me!) thought that 24617 may be completed in time to return to traffic on the Santa services. However, the extent of the work needed means that it will be into next season before that happens. However, as long as it sees service at some point in that year, the record of carrying SVR passengers in every operating season will have been maintained.
Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.
Uplifting news for the DMU group
Believe it or not, the Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) has now been resident on the Railway for 32 years, joining the healthy variety of other traction and rolling stock that has been here longer than in BR service!
In early November, DMU car 51941 made the short journey from Bewdley to Kidderminster TMD (diesel depot) where on Saturday 5th November the car was lifted off its bogies. 51941 will be lowered back down onto a set of accommodation bogies owned by the owning group, the DMU Group West Midlands.
The DMU Group’s Ben Darby explained: “The removed bogies will be overhauled by an engineer in Yorkshire. When they return, we plan initially for a DMU to return to service as a ‘power twin’, with 51941 joining 52064 which has already received overhauled bogies (see October’s Express Points).
“Whilst at Kidderminster, we aim to make the most of the carriage shed facilities to gain access to the roof for preventative maintenance and a coat of paint under the guidance of C&W paid staff and DMU Group volunteer Mathew Walford. Our thanks go to both Matt and Gary Parsons for their assistance.
“Group members also continue elsewhere with maintenance tasks, overhaul work and enhancements to our vehicles. Two Leyland 680 engines are undergoing overhaul in a workshop at Ombersley. At Bewdley, work has included the removal of mechanical radiator fans and replacement with a more economical thermostat design to reduce engine wear and fuel consumption, a modification to power car battery switches, and internal work to ceiling panels and brake van areas in 50933 and 51941, plus much more!
“We’d love to hear from anyone interested in joining our band of friendly volunteers at Bewdley. You can contact us through our website (www.svr-dmu.org.uk) or come and see us at Bewdley. There is a wide range of tasks to undertake, and no experience is needed as training will be given where required. You must be a member of both the DMU Group West Midlands and Severn Valley Railway.”
Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.
Fred Hughes was a Hampton Loade Station volunteer. He passed away on 26th February 2022, aged 92, and sadly news of his death only reached us recently.
While visiting Bridgnorth around 1969, Fred mentioned that he was a British Rail guard, and was asked to take the next return trip to Hampton Loade while the volunteer guard had some lunch! He continued to guard SVR trains until the progression of his BR career meant he had to step back.
After retiring in 1993, Fred was invited to volunteer again, as the chief booking clerk at Hampton Loade. He also helped with bank-cutting and painting in the workshop, and at Kidderminster where he packed presents for Santa’s grotto.
Declining health forced Fred to retire from the SVR in 2018, then to move into sheltered accommodation. Unfortunately, he developed hearing problems and dementia.
Fred was a familiar character along the Railway for his stories from his long BR career. He recounted shunting vans into the parcels warehouse at Kidderminster (now the carriage works) and guarding 7819 ‘Hinton Manor’ and its support coach from Gloucester to Kidderminster after an open day.
Hampton Loade volunteers dedicated their annual staff summer barbeque to Fred’s memory.
Sam Lench, assistant station master, Hampton Loade, from a tribute by Tim Eades.
New train crew manager (TTIs and FE hosts)
The SVR Company Limited (SVRG) board has confirmed the appointment of John Kitchen as new train crew manager (travelling ticket inspectors (TTIs) and Footplate Experience (FE) hosts) from the New Year, in succession to Jim Seaton. Many along the Valley will know John, either as a TTI or as a guard.
John told Express Points: “I am absolutely delighted to have been given the opportunity to head up the department. I look forward to working closely with my colleagues to ensure that the department continues to go from strength to strength.
“I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to Jim for ensuring that the handover process is as seamless as possible. His will be a tough act to follow, but I will certainly make best endeavours to rise to the challenge.”
Jim will still be volunteering at Arley and The Engine House, and said: “I am delighted at this ‘top drawer’ appointment and I truly wish the greatest success to John and to all in the department. He has a superb history in management and education, and crucially recognises the importance of our role.
“Thank you to everyone for the support and encouragement that they have afforded me over the years. It really has been a pleasure and a privilege to represent the department. TTIing has been my love for the last 15 years and leaving it is very sad, but I will still see you around the Railway.”
It’s goodbye from Shelagh!
The SVR Charitable Trust’s executive director Shelagh Paterson left the charity at the end of October, and writes these words:
The last 10 years have been an unforgettable journey and it’s been a privilege to have been part of a team that has raised an incredible £8.74m for the Severn Valley Railway in this time. Thank you to all the donors, legacy pledgers, grant makers and corporate members who have supported us with funding vital rolling stock, infrastructure and educational projects.
I am immensely proud of the Charitable Trust’s achievements and this is due to so many amazing people I have had the opportunity to work with, including all the volunteers who keep the Railway running, in addition the three boards shaping the SVR, along with the senior leadership team including Helen Smith who has been a wonderful support in recent years.
The list of people I could thank could probably stretch from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth, but there are a few people who I’d like to give a special mention. Hugh McQuade, my first chair, not only for his dedication but for his incredible stories which so many of our donors enjoy; Nick Paul, who gave me huge guidance and leadership support; John Leftwich, with whom I worked closely for eight years and who so many of us miss terribly; John and David Owen who helped get the Charitable Trust through its early days; Peter Copsey, who helped steer the Trust through Covid-19, and Keith Norton who is now working to shape the strategy for the future.
Thanks also goes to the Charitable Trust team who work tirelessly to help raise vital funds. Whilst sadly, both Loretta and Hamish are also leaving the Charitable Trust, the team will keep up the great work of generating the financial support that the Railway desperately relies upon.
Departing the Railway has been hard – especially as I have made lifelong friends here – but I know I’m leaving the Charitable Trust in strong hands as I move on to a cause close to my heart: Hagar International, which helps women and children who have been trafficked and abused, to rebuild their lives.
While recruitment is underway, Keith Norton is providing a steadying steer and vital expertise as the Charitable Trust enters its next phase in addition to the excellent support he is giving the Railway directly to develop the strategy for the future. I wish you all the very best!
What the DCUK?
What Christmas gift do you buy for the Railway fan who has everything? It’s a question as old as Saint Nick himself, but the answer can be found at the SVR’s online shop! The shop has recently been updated with a whole host of new products to impress all ages, from homeware and games to clothing and vouchers, as well as some more unusual offerings.
Exclusive to the SVR and adorned in SVR guards’ uniforms, the newly arrived, limited edition DCUK duck statues will add a flock of fun to any home. Priced at £25, these hand-carved, hand-finished bamboo characters are already flying out of the store!
Alongside the SVR’s new avian acquaintances, the SVR shop also carries the worldwide classic Monopoly but with an SVR twist! Featuring all the best and brightest locations along the 16-mile line, this game is guaranteed to be a talking point.
Alternatively, those with an interest in locomotive facts and figures can reach for Severn Valley Railway Top Trumps. Priced at just £9.99 and featuring 30 SVR steam locomotives, the cards boast statistics and facts about each engine. Players can prove they’re the ultimate SVR aficionado by trumping their friends and family!
In honour of 34027’s forthcoming wartime livery, Express Points readers can get 10% off their next online order of £30 or more at svrshop.co.uk by entering discount code MattBlackFriday22 at the checkout. The offer is valid until midnight on 25th November 2022.
VIP reception for young local hero at the SVR
A dream came true for a young boy from Stourport when he was treated to a VIP reception at the Railway during the autumn half-term holiday.
Eight-year-old Corey Clark was the guest of some of the SVR’s volunteers. They’d learnt about his fundraising work for the Food Share Wyre Forest Project, for which Corey undertook a 10-mile sponsored walk, raising £920.
“We were really impressed when we heard what Corey has done to help his community,” said Kidderminster station volunteer Amy Baker. “And we knew that he’s completely fascinated with everything to do with railways. So, we thought this would be a really nice way of celebrating his achievement.”
Amy, and Tom Eades, who also volunteers at Kidderminster, took Corey and his family on a guided tour of the station, where he got a peek inside the cab of a heritage diesel, stepped onto the footplate of a steam locomotive and even visited the signal box to see how this important aspect of the railway works.
“Corey’s going to be talking about today for years to come,” said his mum Sara. “He’s already said he’d like to work for a railway when he grows up, and I know he’d love to volunteer as a junior for the SVR when he’s old enough.
“The Severn Valley is 100% a great place for kids. It’s so family-orientated, and everyone’s polite and kind. Just look at the smile on his face – it says everything doesn’t it?”
Corey, who has ADHD and autism, received a Thomas and Friends International Friendship Day Award earlier this year, in recognition of his fundraising work.
Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits.
Down the line with No 70
The SVR’s ‘purple locomotive’ stole all the headlines in 2022, and now you have the chance to join it in in real time on one of its most important journeys, carrying the Birmingham 2022 Queen’s Baton Relay in the last days before this summer’s Commonwealth Games.
Three GoPro cameras captured this momentous occasion, and you can see every inch of the journey from the comfort of your own home, with action on the footplate, down the length of the boiler and from the front of the locomotive.
Departure of Mk3 sleeper ‘Leviathan’
On Wednesday 12th October a shunt of Bewdley yard took place to release Mk3a sleeping coach 10569 ‘Leviathan’. Built in 1983, the coach was previously part of the VSOE and Northern Belle fleets, hence the name and livery, and came to the SVR in 2007 for use as volunteer accommodation at Bewdley.
By this year it had become surplus to requirements and was stripped of all useful equipment, prior to being sent for scrap.
“The shunt was typically complex, explained Bewdley Yard shedmaster Clive Thompson, “given the layout of sidings in Bewdley yard and the presence of semi-permanent steps and scaffolds. We took the opportunity to re-arrange the position of other vehicles, some of which had not turned a wheel in decades.
“Once released, ‘Leviathan’ was taken to Kidderminster behind shunter D4100 ‘Dick Hardy’, running at slow speed due to the presence of the non-standard accommodation bogies on which it had been sitting for 20 years.”
Teamwork is essential to a successful exercise, and Clive added: “Many participated on the day, including signalmen, shunter and JCB drivers and guard. Thanks to all those involved in the shunt.”
From Kidderminster, ‘Leviathan’ was taken by road the following day to European Metal Recycling Ltd at Tamworth. The sale netted the Railway over £4,000, after costs.
Top - Mark 3 Sleeper 'Leviathan' is shunted onto the brake van at Bewdley prior to its journey to Kidderminster on 12th October 2022. Clive Thompson
Bottom - Mark 3 Sleeper 'Leviathan' departing Kidderminster on road transport on 13th October 2022. Martin Turbutt
HST at the SVR
Last month, Express Points reported on the visit of a CrossCountry High Speed Train railtour to the Railway.
The unusual event was organized by CrossCountry in conjunction with Modern Railways magazine and included a joint ceremony, renaming CrossCountry’s power car 43366 as ‘HST 40’ and naming GB Railfreight’s Class 66 locomotive 66799 as ‘Modern Railways – Diamond Jubilee’. Not surprisingly, the day received extensive coverage in the November edition of Modern Railways.
The SVR’s cameras were also out to capture the special day, and for those who missed it, there’s a film on the official YouTube channel to show what went on.
A spooky success!
More than 2,500 passengers, zombies, ghosts, and ghouls visited the SVR over the Halloween period. Scream Trains, the SVR’s 18+ Halloween experience, sold out for the third year running, showing that visitors to the SVR love nothing more than being scared out of their wits!
Ghost Trains and Scream Trains travelled from Kidderminster with passengers entertained and thrilled by scary characters on board, before arriving into Arley station where a huge team of scarers awaited them on the platform. Head of commercial and visitor experience Michael Dunn said:
“Our volunteer scare teams at Arley and Bewdley certainly gave passengers the experience they were after. I’d like pass on my thanks to the staff at Kidderminster, Bewdley and Arley for their expert set up and haunting skills for our Halloween 2023 events. Many customers spoke of how good their experience was, with one customer noting they have booked a Christmas Experience as a result.”
Photos: The Lighting Factory
V1 10th November 2022
V2 14th November 2022 amended description of Norman Harvey VC's resting place
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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.