The official reopening train at Eardington station on 14th September 2023. Credit SVR
Welcome to your latest edition of Express Points!
As we publish, the Autumn Steam Gala is underway for four days of intensive activity across the Railway. There’s particular excitement at Eardington station, where timetabled trains are stopping for the first time in more than four decades.
Galas are very much on everyone’s minds at the moment – with one in full swing, a Diesel Festival hot on its heels at the end of the month, and the bonus of an extra Winter Steam Gala announced for early January 2024. What more could we want? Well, there’s always the announcement of the first guest for next spring’s Steam Gala – and we have the details of all of these things.
There are updates on the progress of the Survival Fund and the Bridgnorth Yard project, the commemoration of 60 years since BR withdrew services from the SVR, rolling stock news and a 125th birthday party for one special lady.
It’s all here in your September edition of Express Points!
Lesley and Patrick, co-editors
The Express Points team is Lesley Carr, Karen Crick, Amy Baker, Pete Cherry, Nicola Fox and Patrick Hearn.
Scroll down or click on the item to be taken straight to it
The Autumn Steam Gala is in full swing!
As we go to press, the first trains of the SVR’s Autumn Steam Gala are storming their way along the line, and amongst many other delights, today sees the grand re-opening of Eardington station, where trains are stopping for the first time in 40 years!
The Gala marks the 100th anniversary of the Big Four grouping act with representatives from all four companies leading the line up. Visiting locomotives B1 61306 ‘Mayflower’, Bagnall ‘Vulcan’, United States Army Transportation Corps (USATC) S160 class 2253 ‘Omaha’ and LMS Ivatt 2 41312 are appearing alongside the SVR’s home fleet.
Four days of intensive timetabling includes nine locomotives in steam, a recreation of the first train to depart Bridgnorth in 1970, and the return of overnight running.
In addition to passenger trains and double headers, goods services will also run, with shunting demonstrations at stations. There'll be pie & mash suppers (pre-book only) and a mini beer festival, along with a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight fly past on Saturday, and a RailArt exhibition at Kidderminster Railway Museum.
If you’re on duty at the event, fingers crossed it will go as smoothly as possible. Or if you’re not directly involved, tickets are available at svr.co.uk or can be bought on the day.
Photo: USATC S160 Class 2253 Omaha is unloaded, coupled and lit up ahead of a steam test at Bridgnorth MPD late on 13th September 2023. Will Marsh
How is the Survival Fund progressing?
Donations to the Survival Fund appeal have now passed £427,000 including Gift Aid, and more are still needed to help reach the target of £1.5million. But as managing director Gus Dunster explains, the Railway is exploring other ways of raising money for its Survival Fund:
We have been hugely heartened by the thousands of donations that have been made to our appeal launched in April this year, and we’re extremely grateful to everyone who has donated.
As well as these generous donations from individuals, SVR (Holdings) Plc has been raising funds towards the Survival Fund through a number of different methods.
We realised a substantial six-figure sum by selling Black Five 45110, a locomotive that the SVR had no realistic prospect of being able to restore
We have unlocked new and growing revenue streams by undertaking work for other rail companies, such as providing testing and storage facilities.
We have also made significant cost savings by employing fewer staff and renegotiating utility contracts.
We’ve saved costs by streamlining the number of operating days and services for the current year, focusing activity on profitable areas such as enthusiast events.
All this work continues, and it’s all adding up to get us closer to the £1.5 million reserve in the bank that will tide us through seasonal lean periods, and will enable us to build up our long-term resilience.
We are making great progress, but we’re not there yet.
We are redoubling our efforts to find additional income streams and raise funds where we can. But we still need your help. If you haven’t already done so, please consider making a donation, through the SVR Charitable Trust, to our Survival Fund appeal. Perhaps you’ve already donated, but are thinking about making a further contribution? Now is the time to make a difference.
Providing you’re a taxpayer and tick the box, an extra 25% can be claimed on top of your donation, at no extra cost to you.
The Survival Fund is absolutely necessary to secure a viable future for the Railway. We are very grateful to you for supporting us, and hope that we can count on your further financial support to help the SVR to survive, and ultimately to thrive.
Please donate at svr.co.uk. Thank you.
Photo: Part of the Railway's strategy is to diversify income. Rail Adventure Class 43 power cars in the Kidderminster TMD for an 'A' exam on 5th September 2023. Matt Robinson
Farewell to Black Five 45110
In mid-August, the Severn Valley Railway completed the sale of one of its out-of-service locomotives, LMS Stanier Class 5 45110, to an unnamed buyer. The revenue generated by the sale will play an important part in securing the Railway’s finances.
In April, the Railway launched a £1.5million Survival Fund appeal, to enable it to reinstate the cash reserve it had traditionally held in the bank before the financial challenges of the Covid pandemic and rapidly escalating running costs. As reported elsewhere in this edition, the appeal has so far raised more than £427,000, which will be boosted by the sale of 45110.
The locomotive hadn’t steamed since 2008, spending stints on display in both Barrow Hill Engine Shed and The Engine House at Highley, before moving into storage in Kidderminster carriage shed. Chris Walton, the chairman of SVR (Holdings) Plc said:
“We know that some people may be upset that this particular locomotive has left the SVR, however, it’s clear that selling it was absolutely the right thing to do. The sale significantly increases the chances of the loco being restored and back in steam in the near to medium term, and of course the funds we have received will help a great deal to improve the SVR’s financial position. I’m pleased to add that after discussions with the new owner, it is possible that the loco will return to the SVR for a future event.”
Pioneering SVR preservationist David Williams also added his support to the decision:
“45110 is of course an iconic engine, and many people at the SVR have a strong and understandable emotional attachment to it. However, its sale now vastly increases the chances of its restoration and return to service. When you look at the bigger picture, that’s clearly for the greater good of the heritage railway movement.
“We know that an expensive restoration, costing in the region of £1million, would be unthinkable for the SVR in its current financial circumstances. The railway needs to focus on building up its reserves once more so that it’s in good shape to thrive in the future, and this sale will contribute towards that end.”
The loco left the SVR by road on 15th August.
Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits
Autumn Diesel Bash promises a host of hydraulics
Having set a high bar with the very successful Spring Diesel Bash, the Railway is planning another show-stopper for 28th September to 1st October. The ‘Magnificent Seven’-themed event comprises four days of intense timetabling, and will see classes 14, 17, 20, 35, 37, 40, 42, 46, 50 and 52 in operation and BR Class 52 Diesel Hydraulic D1048 ‘Western Lady’ on static display throughout, following its recent cosmetic restoration and repaint to blue with full yellow ends.
Unfortunately, Hymeks D7017 and D7018 will not be able to attend as originally planned, but sister locomotives D7076 will be running, and D7029 will be on display at Kidderminster whilst undergoing restoration. Additionally, Hymeks were often used as banking engines up the Lickey Incline, and the Hymek spirit will be fully honoured with selected trains being banked out of Bridgnorth.
Managing director Gus Dunster added, "We are delighted to have D1048 as a late addition to our line-up. Its participation means we can host the largest gathering of Class 52 Westerns in more than 30 years, the perfect way to round off our celebrations of 50 years of diesel preservation.”
The event will also include double-headers, and local shuttles at both ends of the line, including trains stopping at Eardington station. At The Engine House there’s a mini beer festival, nameplate display and a 5" gauge railway.
There are two photo-shoots associated with the Autumn Diesel Bash – see our separate article for details of these.
For tickets and further information, please visit svr.co.uk.
Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits
A steamy start to 2024 with the new winter gala!
The Railway will have an unusually early event to its calendar for 2024, with the announcement of a Winter Steam Gala on Saturday 6th and Sunday 7th January.
At least five steam locomotives are planned to operate a busy timetable on both days of the event.
The gala will see final appearances for both the ‘Flying Pig’ 43106 as it reaches the end of its current boiler ‘ticket’ and 21C127 ‘Taw Valley’ in its wartime black livery.
It will mark the gala debut of ex-LMS ‘Mogul’ 2968 following its overhaul, and a welcome gala return of 7812 ‘Erlestoke Manor’ which has spent several months away from the SVR since its appearance at 2023’s Spring Steam Gala.
The home fleet will be boosted by the addition of visiting USATC 2253 ‘Omaha’, which is to remain at the SVR following its appearance in the Autumn Steam Gala (see above item).
Visitor engagement manager Lewis Maddox said: “This is going to get 2024 off to an amazing start, and there can be nothing finer than the sight of a locomotive running on a crisp winter day.
“We’ve not done anything as early in the season as this for quite some time, but we’re confident it’s going to go down very well, and give people something to look forward to in the new year. It’ll be particularly significant to be saying ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye’ to so many of the locos in operation at this event.”
The Railway plans for services to start at 8am each day, finishing about 7pm, including an evening special on the Saturday with 43106. Tickets are on sale at svr.co.uk.
Photo: 'January brings the snow...', as Flanders and Swann sang. 7812 Erlestoke Manor is to return the the SVR from its travels and feature at the Winter Steam Gala, it is shown at Stourport Road Bridge in snow on 9th January 2010. Paul Pearson
First 2024 Spring Steam Gala guest is announced!
Just before the start of the Autumn Steam Gala, the Railway made a surprise early reveal on the identity of one of the guest locomotives for its Spring Gala next year, which takes place between 18th and 21st April.
No 72 ‘Fenchurch’, the Class A1 Terrier 0-6-0T has been named as the first of the guest line-up, and will be appearing courtesy of its home base at the Bluebell Railway, subject to availability.
Built in 1872, 72 was the first of its class to enter service on 7th September that year. The Terriers were a light-weight design, intended to give rapid acceleration on suburban trains of light-weight carriages on the 11-mile South London line, where stations were only about a mile apart.
“We’re extremely pleased that we’ve secured an early agreement with the Bluebell to host their locomotive,” said head of steam engineering Duncan Ballard. “It’s a great opportunity to start making a stir with what promises to be one of the most significant enthusiast events in 2024’s calendar.
“Having a 152-year-old engine on the Valley is going to be quite something. We’re actively negotiating for other guest locomotives for the event, so stay tuned for further announcements!”
Tickets for the Spring Steam Gala 2024 are not yet on sale, but will be available in the coming months.
Photo: 72 Fenchurch. Credit Kenny Felstead
Bridgnorth Yard project update
Here's the latest update on this essential project from volunteer project manager Nick Yarwood, along with a useful graphic. Nick’s focus is very much on recruiting willing volunteers to take part. See the June 2022 edition of Express Points for full details of this project:
One of the four replacement turnouts needed for the project is soon going to be refurbished and reassembled in South Wales to the geometry needed for its new location. This was kindly donated by the Lowdham Signal Box project (see July 2023’s Express Points) and will be the first one over which all traffic into the yard will pass.
The constraints of the site mean that there’s little scope to vary the alignments of the roads that service the splash pad, water column, coaling and paint shop (roads 3, 4 and 5). There’s more flexibility for roads 1 and 2, nearest to platform 2, and these will change significantly in their approach to accommodate potential future lengthening of platform 2. Corrosion found in the unloaded section of the tunnel bridge, furthest away from the main line and with no track above it, prevents realignment at that point and so we’ve been searching the country for suitable replacements for the two turnouts for roads 3, 4 and 5. By ingenious means, we’ll be able to reuse some components from salvageable turnouts available at Brownhills.
With the offer of assistance with loading the parts from the users of the site, Quattro, and Network Rail for kindly facilitating it, we expect to be lifting and collecting these very soon.
The sketch of the design below illustrates how constrained it is for our volunteer designer, Ted Stevens, to work out a configuration that fits.
Appeal for help
We’ll be needing some willing and fit volunteers to help with dismantling, recovery and reassembly of turnouts. Please volunteer, if you possibly can, to take part in something different.
We also need volunteers with construction knowledge, or an interest in learning, to help with groundworks, drainage and tunnel waterproofing works during the main activities on site in the lead up to, and during, next winter’s shutdown period. There is a lot to be done. Activity will be intense, and help is needed!
Please make contact through the Volunteer Liaison Office at firstname.lastname@example.org . The office is also available to answer enquiries by phone on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Call 01299 401776 to speak with Ann Hartley or Barry Moreton.
Photo: Nick Yarwood and Gary Winton hand-dig test holes to determine the construction and condition of the metal troughing section of the Engine Shed Underpass (Bridge 36) in Bridgnorth yard in preparation for the next project phase.
What's coming up?
Four photo charters at the SVR!
After last April’s successful trial photo-charter event with 4079 ‘Pendennis Castle’, four more events are set to take place this month and next. The emphasis is on a welcome return to normality, a safe experience for photographers, and bringing welcome revenue to the Railway.
Monday 25th September sees 4930 'Hagley Hall' at the head of a goods train in a charter organised by SVR volunteer Matt Fielding. Transport between locations in the form of a vintage bus is provided. Tickets are limited and can be booked through Matt using this link: mailchi.mp/86884d086448/4930goodsphotocharter-13539272
The first of the Autumn Diesel Bash evening photo shoots is the 'BR blue takeover', offering the chance to recreate the Old Oak Common ‘Turntable Scene’ on 26th September, with D1015, D7076, D821 and D832 on and around the turntable. After a break, three Westerns will be positioned in the shed with ‘noses’ poking out, including D1048 'Western Lady'. Then there's the 'Gantry Scene' featuring a Class 50 under the gantry with a maroon rake of Mk1s. Book via the SVR https://svr.co.uk/event/diesel-hydraulics-evening-photoshoot-br-blue/
Then, Friday 6th October sees the big finale photo shoot to round off the SVR’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ Autumn Diesel Bash, and ’50 years of Diesel Preservation’ celebrations!
'The Big One', line-up featuring D821 / D832 / D1013 / D1015 / D1048 / D1062 / D7029 / D7076 until 7.15pm. Then it's 'Gantry #1', featuring D821 and D832 side-by-side under the gantry. And finally 'Gantry #2', featuring D7076 and D821 or D832 side-by-side under the gantry. Book at svr.co.uk
And finally, on Friday 20th October, 30742 Charters presents a day with British Railways Standard Four 75069, which will be paired with a short set of carmine-and-cream coaches. For more information and to book tickets, visit eventbrite.co.uk/e/75069-at-the-severn-valley-railway-tickets-706100885757
Tickets for all these events must be pre-booked and places are strictly limited.
4930 Hagley Hall on the goods in Oldbury Cutting on 15th April 2023 during the Spring Steam Gala. John Sherratt
D1015 Western Champion (as D1039) on the Kidderminster turntable on 19th May 2023. David Bissett
Tickets please – for the fright of your life!
Are you brave enough to volunteer for the Ghost Trains? Volunteers are needed for the scare team at Arley. If you dare, get in touch with email@example.com to find out more and sign up!
The SVR’s much-feared Ghost Train services take place on Saturday 28th, Monday 30th and Tuesday 31st October. It’s a thrilling family-friendly experience with four nightly departures from Kidderminster and a goodie bag for every child.
Or, for groups aged 18+, the Scream Train ramps things up on the scary scale, departing from Kidderminster at 8.40pm each evening.
Please spread the word about the SVR’s Ghost Train and Scream Train experiences, which must be pre-booked, and always sell out fast. More information at svr.co.uk
Wolverhampton SVR branch meetings
The branch starts its new season on Monday 18th September with a digital presentation entitled "Shropshire Railway Byways - part 2 - by Leon Coast". In part 2, Leon continues his delve into the archives, seeking out the forgotten backwaters of Shropshire's railways.
The event takes place from 7.30 to 10.00pm at the Old Wulfrunians Sports Club, Castlecroft Road, Castlecroft, Wolverhampton, with an entrance charge of £3, including raffle.
Please note - this meeting, and subsequent meetings, are on the third Monday of the month, and not the second, as in previous seasons.
Photo: Ex-GWR 5764 at Much Wenlock in Shropshire in April 1960, shortly before it was sold to London Transport. Copyright A. J. B. Dodd & Rail Photoprints. The Wellington, Coalbrookdale and Craven Arms line crossed the Severn Valley branch at Buildwas. The locomotive, in its LT guise as L.95, is on display in The Engine House visitor centre at Highley.
Questions and Answers
The second open Q&A session of the year will be held at 2.30pm on Thursday 5th October. In line with recent practice, it will be an online event with a recording made available. Instructions on how to join will follow by NBI on 2nd October.
The meeting will be chaired by head of marketing and communications Lesley Carr, and the panel will comprise:
Jonathan Dunster, managing director SVR (Holdings) plc
Chris Walton, chair SVR (Holdings) plc
Diane Malyon, chair SVR Company Limited
Ian Jones, head of charity, SVR Charitable Trust
If you have a question, then the Q&A is the place to ask it! You can submit questions during the session, or in advance by email to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday 2nd October - please put ‘Q&A’ in the subject heading. You won’t be ‘on camera’ - only the panel members appear on screen.
It’s a great way for you to ask questions and to find out the reasoning behind decisions taken, directly from the people who manage the Railway and its projects. All paid and volunteer staff from the three SVR organisations are encouraged to engage with these sessions.
Photo: SVR Company Limited chair Diane Malyon during the last Q&A session
‘Guarantee Company’ board changes and vacancies
The board of directors of the SVR Company Ltd. have voted to co-opt Paul Appleton to join the board, as chair Diane Malyon writes:
Paul is passionate about the SVR, having been a member of the SVR since 1973 and an active volunteer (as a guard) for the past seven years. In 2021 he achieved his long-standing ambition of moving to Bridgnorth in order to take a more active role at the Railway.
Paul brings a lifetime’s experience of running his own businesses to the role, including organising and running events, and his appointment will be formalised by membership vote at the AGM in July 2024.
Lawrence Mortimer has decided to step down from his role as director and chairman of the staffing committee, with immediate effect, in order to be able to give more time to his other varied roles on SVR.
I’d like to thank Lawrence for his contribution to the board during his time as a director and wish him well with his continuing SVR volunteer contribution.
There are currently two vacancies on the Board and the SVR Company Ltd is seeking to co-opt someone proactive who feels they have the skills, time, and enthusiasm to become a director. The ideal candidate would have experience in HR, IT or education, but other skills and attributes are welcomed. The successful applicant would also be expected to participate in one of the four sub-committees which report to the board.
Board meetings are held monthly, on a Wednesday evening, at 7pm, alternating between Microsoft Teams and in person at Comberton Place.
The passing of volunteers is a sad occasion for both family and the Railway, and we pay respects to those leaving us. We send our deepest sympathies to their families.
Many paid and volunteer staff will recall Andrew Harding from his days with us as company secretary and as a respected member of the finance team. It is with great regret we must advise that Andrew passed away on 14th August 2023. Andrew’s funeral was held at today (14th September) at All Saints Church, Wilden, with a celebration of his life thereafter at the Briton Arms.
Barry Moreton, Volunteer Liaison.
Space precludes fuller obituaries appearing in Express Points. These appear in internal NBIs and later in SVR News.
Across the Railway
Behind the scenes with the infrastructure teams
Across the Railway, the infrastructure and permanent way (P-Way) teams continue with the never-ending task of maintaining the formation, track and structures for our trains to run, as this gallery of images from the past month shows.
Head of infrastructure Chris Bond provided a short explanation of the art of manual ‘stone blowing’:
“P-Way team manager Barry Light is captured instructing our volunteers. This process is where small grit is blown under the sleepers using compressed air. This technique is especially useful on jointed track where it can help smooth out dipped joints, reducing the risk of damage to track and rolling stock, and improving the ride.
"As a further example of cost-saving, the compressor driving this operation was obtained from the TMD (diesel depot) in Kidderminster in non-working condition and has been made serviceable for a very small amount by the full-time staff.”
Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits
A ‘light bulb moment’ at the TMD
Volunteers stepped in to make a good cost-saving for the Railway, at Kidderminster TMD (Traction Maintenance Depot, or diesel depot.)
After some years’ use, the mess-room lighting started to experience failures. Depot manager Roland Bull told Express Points: “We evidently needed some new fittings. Fluorescent tube is obsolete, and we couldn’t get matching fittings anyway, so we opted for modern light-emitting diodes (LED) which are cheaper to run.
“We decided to fund and install everything ourselves. The SVR’s electrical manager Dan Noy was happy for John Hopkins and new volunteer James Webb, qualified electricians, to do the work safely. It was easily done, at a cost-saving to the Railway.”
Bridgnorth station footbridge refurbished
Station master and SVR (Holdings) director Chris Thomas provides an update on this project:
Looking back to March 2021’s Express Points, our plan was: “A significant volunteer project will be a full repaint of the station footbridge, which was deferred by Covid-19. It’s showing the effects of 17 years of locomotive exhausts since it last underwent a major refurbishment in 2004, when it was taken down for shot-blasting and powder coating.”
A little later than had been envisaged, we started in September 2022 with both the stairways, washing down the metalwork and sandpapering the balustrade before priming and glossing. We then continued with the inside of the walkway, preparing the surfaces ready for painting with the GWR colour scheme, known as ‘light and dark stone’. This took our four-person team several Tuesdays to complete.
The final outside sections of the walkway had to be painted using the cherry picker, with the last bits of lattice work completed in August.
It took literally hundreds of man-hours to undertake this huge task and, as these images show, the results are quite spectacular! The Wailing Wall* members who gave a helping hand included Sue and Mike Wilson, Mick Jones, Paul Hajdasz and Chris Thomas.
New volunteers are invited to join our merry throng - a friendly welcome in return for the loan of your skills and enthusiasm. Please contact email@example.com
*The Bridgnorth station maintenance team is known as the Wailing Wall Construction Company
The repainted Bridgnorth station footbridge August 2023. Paul Hajdasz
Mick Jones, Paul Hajdasz, Sue Wilson and Chris Thomas with the painted bridge.
'Working at height' refresher
In 2020, a ‘working at height’ video was introduced and the ‘working at height’ awareness refresher is now due for completion. This training involves re-watching the video and completing a question paper.
Current competency can be checked through HOPS and the video can be found at svrlive.com/wah, with the question paper located on HOPS. Health and Safety manager Richard Morris said:
“Please note that this training is designed to provide a level of awareness and does not necessarily make a person competent to work at height in all instances, such as rope access, harness and fall arrest systems, which require a much greater knowledge before use. If you believe you require greater training, please do not hesitate to speak to your line manager, and courses will be arranged.”
From 1st October, it is intended that anyone requiring the ‘work at height’ competence will participate in an e-learning element in HOPS, instead of the current video method. This e-learning sits across all heritage railways that use HOPS, making this competence transferrable.
For further information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Signal Engineering (S&T) team members cleaning and servicing signals using the mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) on 29th August 2023. Brent Cleeton
Staff accommodation at Bewdley reopens
Another example of paid and volunteer staff successfully working together saw the return last month of staff sleeping accommodation at Bewdley. It has been a long and hard journey to bring ex-GWR Corridor Brake Third no 2233 back into use, as station master James Pearson and accommodation committee member Dai Phillips explain:
The accommodation coaches (2233 and ex-BR Mk 3a Convertible Sleeper 10696) were closed in January, requiring upgrades to the fire alarm and electrical systems and other work to comply with requirements of the Railway’s fire safety officer Dan Noy.
ABC Fire and Security supplied a suitable alarm system, as used at other locations on the SVR, which was duly installed on both coaches.
We decided to tackle 2233’s electrics first, to get one coach operational more quickly. Kevin Smith had inspected them and, to keep down the cost, he and Nigel Southall did some of the work as volunteers, with occasional help from Bewdley staff. This work took many weekends.
The toilet was plumbed-in using a 4” sewer pipe (previous use of macerators had proved costly, due to the distance that the outfall had to travel.) Thanks to both Arley and Bridgnorth accommodation committees for donations of suitable pipe, and to Ian Stokes for his expertise in fitting it.
The station maintenance team also did some repair work, along with Ian and Dan. New signage and a new external signing-on point were fitted.
We are extremely grateful to the many who assisted, you know who you are! Thanks also to the SVR Company Ltd (the Guarantee Company) which supplied a major part of the funding, alongside a contribution from the Bewdley accommodation committee.
For now, the committee has given priority to those living further away or in front-line operational roles but, unfortunately, we couldn’t accommodate everyone for the steam gala. We shall be getting quotes for the work to return 10696 to use as soon as possible, but we are only a small committee doing this work alongside other functions on the railway. Please bear with us.
Click on the gallery for larger images and photo credits.
An update from the motive power depot
The busy school-holiday season has now passed, but no time for a lull as the Autumn Steam Gala is now in full swing! Volunteer shed master Martin White brings news from Bridgnorth motive power depot:
Four visiting locos have arrived on SVR metals in just three days, including three locos and one tender on four road haulage trailers into Bridgnorth in the space of just two days. A very busy time for ESMP paid staff and those volunteers who turn up early to help with gala preparations.
The business-as-usual activities of the shed at Bridgnorth have included boiler washouts and examinations of the operating fleet and the more intensive annual examination of 4930 ‘Hagley Hall’.
The boilersmiths of course are involved in the examination of the internals of the boiler during the washout exams and in ‘signing off’ the boilers at the post-washout steam tests. Aside from this, in the boilershop itself, work continues amongst other things on the new-build boiler for 82045 and Isle of Man No 16, ‘Mannin’, boiler rebuild.
It has been encouraging to see how the shed volunteer workforce have risen to the challenge of dealing with boiler washouts. The result of this is that the paid staff have been able to crack on with the more skilled tasks, thereby saving time and resources. Years ago, boiler washouts were routinely carried out by volunteers at weekends, but as the size of the operational steam fleet has gradually diminished, it became increasingly necessary for paid staff to conduct washouts, in order to minimise the downtime of locomotives. The reduced steam mileage arising from the four-days-a-week operation in 2023 has made a real difference to the frequency of maintenance and opened-up the opportunity for volunteers to assist in this way, and provide essential support to the hard-stretched paid staff.
Elsewhere in the works, the big focus remains on the final reassembly of Stanier Mogul 2968. During the last month:
The superheater header has been fitted which has allowed the fabrication of the new main steam pipes from the header down to the cylinders to commence.
The superheaters themselves have been delivered from Tyseley Loco Works and the fitting of these is underway.
The ejector, brake valve, cab lubricator and gauges pipework has been completed and work has commenced on the injector delivery pipes.
The cab roof has been refitted and permanently secured.
The tender and locomotive drawbars and buffers have been adjusted and the two coupled together, hopefully to remain so for a considerable period to come.
The loco and the tender, now they more-or-less have all the heavyweight components fitted, have been weighed and had the ride heights and weight distribution adjusted to the required parameters.
Enjoy the gala… it’ll soon be Christmas!
2968 in Bridgnorth Yard for the fitting of the cab roof on 24th August 2023. Will Marsh
Happy birthday Lady A!
0-6-0T steam locomotive 'The Lady Armaghdale', the oldest engine on the Railway, is to celebrate its 125th birthday on Saturday 7th October.
The loco is not currently on public display and will make a rare public appearance in the dock at Kidderminster Town station. Between 1.00 and 3.30pm members of the owning group, the Warwickshire Industrial Locomotive Preservation Trust, will be present to explain the history of this engine and the progress being made with the overhaul of the Trust’s other locomotive, ‘Warwickshire’.
The focal point of the day will be on the station concourse, and a birthday cake will be cut at 2.45pm. Trust chair Nigel Cripps said, “It is traditional to put a steam locomotive’s birthday cake into its fire box; on this occasion we propose to do something much more useful and share it with the public attending the ceremony!
“The 'Lady Armaghdale' isn’t historically very significant, but its life story is much more interesting. During its life it has changed gender four times, had three owners and has twice escaped the scrapyard. In preservation it is well-travelled, having visited the continent on three occasions on ‘Thomas’ duties.”
The engine, works number 686, was built by Hunslet of Leeds for the Manchester Ship Canal, where it worked for 65 years. In 1963 it moved to ICI at Blackley, Manchester where it inherited 'The Lady Armaghdale' name. It was preserved and moved to the SVR in 1969.
The locomotive last steamed in 2009. It subsequently had a spell in The Engine House visitor centre at Highley, and is now usually stored in the carriage shed at Kidderminster.
Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits
Carriage round up, aka musical bogies!
Work on overhauling and restoring the SVR’s carriages to their former glory is an ongoing process and as the year moves into autumn, bogie swaps and overhauls are the fashion!
GWR Passenger Brake 1145, (known as the sales coach), GWR Full Third 4786, and GWR Wheelchair-accessible Buffet Car 9581 have, at various points this summer, all made trips to Kidderminster ready to be lifted onto temporary accommodation bogies to allow their own bogies to commence their overhauls. 1145 also received a repaint on the car-park side this summer.
In a game of musical bogies however, 1145 is currently sat on 9ft bogies, (which fit its Toplight design) while its own 7ft bogies are used as accommodation bogies for 9581 as it is a bow-ended vehicle. 9581’s interior refit is progressing well at Bewdley.
4786’s trip to Kidderminster also included turning on the turntable. The turning will allow work to be completed on the door-frames and the second stepboard on the opposite side. 4786’s interior is complete and is waiting to go into the paint shop at Bewdley to have its roof repaired and exterior paintwork completed. The first of its bogies is currently under overhaul at Kidderminster.
Work has also begun on 1910 Toplight 2426 at Bewdley. The underframe has been cleaned down and painted. New interior compartment doors and lavatory doors have been made and work is progressing on the two vestibule sliding doors.
Meanwhile at Bridgnorth, volunteers are working on converting port-hole LMS Corridor Brake Third 26921 to bring the wheelchair provision in the LMS set up to standard. 26921 arrived on the SVR in 1968, along with 24617, but whereas 24617 became an SVR staple, 26921 has spent 30 years awaiting repairs. The guards/luggage area is being transformed into a passenger area for wheelchair users and their families.
After many years of service, 24617, which is the only running LMS porthole corridor composite in the world, has been receiving plentiful TLC. This includes restored panelling, new stainless-steel toilet tanks, new glass, lino, gangway bellows, upholstery, and restored tables. 24617 is now turned out in 1948/9 British Transport Commission livery and is expected to live up to its reputation of running at least one day every season since its arrival in 1968.
Other carriage undertakings include the programme to modify GW door snap-locks, the rectification of LNER Gresley 43600’s recent running gear issues, the revarnishing of GNR teak 2701, and the continuation of the major overhaul of LNER Gresley 43612 in Bewdley paint shop.
Photo: LMS-design 24617 outside the Kidderminster carriage works on 8th September 2023. It is receiving the most extensive re-fit it has ever received on the SVR. Martin White
Using RingGo at the SVR’s car parks
Passengers at all three of our main car parks (Bridgnorth, Bewdley and Kidderminster) can now pay for parking using the RingGo app or its automated telephone line, as well as by other means, as visitor engagement manager Lewis Maddox explains:
Many people already use parking apps on smartphones and the RingGo app can help our passengers to save time. The appropriate location codes are shown on site (Bewdley’s code is 29236, Bridgnorth’s 29209 and Kidderminster Town’s 29211). If users don’t want to download the app, have problems or just prefer to pay by phone, they can call RingGo’s automated telephone line on 020 3046 0010.
Passengers can also still use the other methods as before. The parking machines accept cards and users can pay at the booking offices when open, or at Kidderminster and Bridgnorth shops by card, contactless or cash. Users must pay before exiting the car park and enter the vehicle’s registration number at the point of purchase.
Terms and conditions apply. Our main car parks are at Bewdley DY12 1DP, Bridgnorth WV16 5DP and Kidderminster DY10 1QX. They are ANPR-controlled and cost £4 per day. For information on blue- badge parking please see https://svr.co.uk/plan-your-visit/accessibility/
Severn Valley Railway named as finalist in regional tourism awards
The SVR has been selected as a finalist in the ‘Visit Worcestershire 2023/24’ awards for excellence in tourism.
The Visit Worcestershire’s judges have shortlisted the Railway as a finalist in the large visitor attraction category. Factors such as the SVR’s unique qualities, digital presence, inclusivity, recent improvements and future plans were all considered as part of the application process.
The final stages of judging will take place during an unannounced mystery visit in the coming months, and the large visitor attraction winner will be revealed at a ceremony in March 2024.
Fingers crossed for the awards evening and hopefully we can add to the SVR accolades.
TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice
The SVR brand is riding high at the moment, having won a TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice award for the fourth consecutive year. These awards are only given to the top 10% of visitor attractions around the world, and are based on reviews and ratings earned over the previous year.
Collecting the token at Bewdley on 6th August 2023. Anthony Carwithen
Murder Mystery dining train, August 2023
SVR Online and Engine House shops back in business
The SVR Online Shop is back up and running, with a whole new range of products available.
Items for sale include clothing, bar runners, bags and re-usable travel mugs. With Christmas fast approaching, they make for an unusual gift for friends and family, or why not treat yourself?
New items for the Autumn Steam Gala and Autumn Diesel bash will be available soon, so keep checking the website for the latest products.
Browse at Severn Valley Railway Official Store – Official SVR Shop , and remember, all profits go towards supporting the work of the Railway.
Meanwhile, the shop in The Engine House visitor centre is now fully open and stocked with products to suit all the family from pocket-money toys to Hornby model railways.
“Business is going very well and there’s a wide range of products to buy,” Nicky Freeman, visitor experience manager, told Express Points.
“Please do pop in when you next visit The Engine House.”
Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits
Vintage Transport Extravaganza a roaring success!
The Vintage Transport Extravaganza roared into life across the Railway between 10th and 13th August and proved to be a big hit with visitors.
Displays of vintage vehicles included steam-powered traction engines, buses, motorbikes, cars and tractors across the SVR’s six station sites.
The event organisers have given their thanks to all those who were involved in helping make the event a success. Our gallery has some of the event’s highlights.
Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits
Sixty years on from closure…the SVR marks the occasion
Last Friday and Saturday, special trains ran to mark the last ever British Railways trains to run on the Severn Valley line, before its closure in 1963.
Pannier tank No 7714 took on the guise of 9624 on Friday 8th September, and 4665 on Saturday 9th, carrying a special headboard to mark the occasion. The number plates and headboard were made by volunteer Tom Clarke to replicate the originals used 60 years ago.
The event caught the attention of the media who gave it widespread coverage. Two SVR pioneering preservationists Keith Beddoes and Columb Howell appeared on BBC Hereford & Worcester’s breakfast show, talking about their memories of that day.
Some of our volunteer photographers were on hand to capture the moment, 60 years on – enjoy our gallery of images.
Click on the gallery for larger images, descriptions and credits
SVR enjoys a high profile in heritage press
Issue 26 of TRACKSIDE magazine contains two lengthy articles with strong SVR pedigrees.
Firstly, a profile article featuring members of the SVR-based Class 50 Alliance delved deep into the personal stories and passions of some key people in this very active group. A follow-up article in issue 27 takes a close look at the hard work that goes into some of the projects the C50A has taken on.
Also in issue 26, there’s an in-depth article about Philip Chatfield, the SVR’s regular stonemason. Phil shares some of his fascinating life story and talks about projects he’s carried out at the Railway.
v1 14th September 2023
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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.