September 2018

1501 is seen departing Hampton Loade with a charter on the 29th August 2018 , by Ian Murray

Welcome to your latest edition of

Express Points!

The highlight of the past month has to be the long-awaited return to the SVR of 7819 Hinton Manor. Keeping the focus on locomotives, we get a personal guided tour of the Bridgnorth yard from someone who knows exactly what’s what there, the shed master himself. The general manager shares some key board decisions for the coming year and we’ve got the inside track on the on train buffet team who play an important role in making sure our passengers get the best experience possible. 

There’s plenty more in your September edition of Express Points, including news on the Falling Sands campaign and the latest on the Bridgnorth development. 

As always, please do get in touch and tell us about your patch at the SVR – with an operation the size of the Severn Valley, it’s often difficult for people to know what’s going on elsewhere, and it’s not because they’re not interested, it’s simply because they’re busy doing their thing too. But we are all in the same team, so let’s share what we do with each other. Email us at expresspoints@svrlive.com and please send photographs too. They really do add a great deal. 

 

Each month we have a draw for a £20 voucher to spend on the Railway, check here to see if it's you.

 

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Simon Turner & Lesley Carr, Co-Editors

Picture by Ian Murray

In a spectacular feat of logistics, including the removal of a glass wall of a shopping centre, the 68-ton 7819 Hinton Manor locomotive has returned home to the Severn Valley Railway. 

The engine had been on loan for eleven years and was on display to shoppers in the Swindon Designer Outlet Village which occupies the restored Great Western Railway works. It was here that the engine was built nearly 84 years ago, at the cost of £4,914. 

Originally rescued from a scrap yard in Barry more than 45 years ago by the Hinton Manor Fund with help from the SVR , Hinton Manor last steamed along the Severn Valley in 1994 before its loan to McArthur Glen, the shopping centre operators, was agreed in 2007. 

A team of volunteers from Severn Valley Railway was on hand throughout the day at Swindon to lend their expertise to the complicated exercise. 

Now owned by the Severn Valley Railway’s Charitable Trust, the engine was brought back by road to Kidderminster station on 21st August, and spent a week on display, by popular demand. 

It’s now safely in storage in the carriage shed, but later this year, after some cosmetic renovation,  will  take its place in The Engine House Visitor Centre, as the Railway’s wedding engine, licensed for civil ceremonies. 

General manager Nick Ralls welcomed Hinton’s return, saying, “7819 is an important part of our past so we are delighted to welcome the engine back to the Railway where it will form a key part of our future.” 

Kevin Cronin, a second generation volunteer engine driver, was in charge of the removal operation and added, “Hinton Manor was an enormously important part of my childhood and one of the reasons I became a driver both here as a volunteer and professionally on mainline trains.  

“I can vividly recall sneaking onto the footplate as a lad when my dad was driving and dreamt one day of taking the controls.  7819’s return to the Railway brings that dream a step closer.” 

Hinton Manor will take its place in the queue for overhaul, behind Hagley Hall, 42968 and 7325. A new set of tyres is in storage, in readiness for the restoration, and in due course the Charitable Trust will be launching a fundraising campaign.  

 

Photos: Bill Griffiths 

The SVR engineering team ready to get the loco moved, from left to right, Josh Harvey, Dan Guinan, Leigh King, Kevin Cronin (team leader), Dave Evans, Will Marsh with Andy Christie (videos) 

Hinton Manor is back!

The Bridgnorth refreshment room takes shape 

 

Infrastructure manager Chris Bond reports on the progress of the new build, where things are coming together very nicely.  

We’re now into a big push towards completion. A large quantity of tiles has been laid to both walls and floors are really transforming the internal appearance of the building, but there have been challenges for the tiling team who have worked hard to achieve the best finish possible.  

 

The kitchen has now had a large stainless steel extraction canopy fitted, and all the plumbing and electrics are in place for the forthcoming installation of catering equipment.  

The Bovey Tracey building is substantially complete with just windows and doors to be fitted. 

 

Externally, the GWR spear top railings have been fitted to the terrace area and look superb.  

Elsewhere the joiners are busy manufacturing the internal joinery for the servery counter, back shelving and bench seating. The servery counter will be topped with Carrara marble, similar to that at the King and Castle and this is now on order. 

 

Photos: Chris Bond 

‘Helping hands for Falling Sands’ – an update on this ambitious restoration project  

 

Since the SVR launched its fundraising campaign in April, the Charitable Trust office has been buzzing with activity. Already, well in excess of £200,000 of the target £275,000 has been raised, and the amount increases daily. 

 

The £275,000 target has been set by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and reaching it is an important element in unlocking a further £1million of vital HLF funding to carry out the essential repairs on the viaduct.  

 

Preliminary structural investigations have revealed a potential problem, as consultant civil engineer Jonathan Symonds explains, “We have discovered two gas mains, laid within the fill material over the viaduct. These were agreed to by the previous owners of the Railway, and one of them has proved to be live. These were not known about before the investigations began. The operator of the gas mains has been established, and we are in discussions about what needs to be done.” 

 

The Charitable Trust’s director Shelagh Paterson added, “There may well be further cost implications because of this complication, and we are working hard to establish what these will be. It looks likely the SVR will have to increase its contribution to the project, and we will keep you updated.  

 

“This project is ambitious. It is also essential for the long-term operational viability of the SVR. The high level of support that has already been shown tells us that people close to the Railway and in the wider community are behind what the SVR is doing to ensure its future. If you’ve already added your name to the donation wall, we are very grateful indeed. If you haven’t, we’d love to invite you to join the thousands of others on our first ever donation wall, all of whom are ‘helping hands for Falling Sands’.” 

  

It’s easy to add a name to the SVR’s first ever donation wall at www.svrtrust.org.uk 

 

Photo: Matthew Wilson 

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A different view of Bridgnorth yard 

Shed master Martin White reveals some interesting facts as he takes us on a tour of the yard. 

We needed an aerial platform to facilitate some recent maintenance and improvements and whilst it was in place in the loco yard, volunteer passed cleaner Antony Bartlam grabbed the opportunity to photograph this unusual view. 

On the left hand side, you can see the motive power depot coal dump. We get regular deliveries of 28 tonnes of ‘Shotton Trebles’ from Northumberland. During the peak season we consume two loads per week, at well over £100 per tonne. Do the maths and then think how many tickets we need to sell to cover that cost!  

Beyond the coal pile are the roof of the lighting up wood store and the MPD oil stores. To the right of this, is the outline of the loco pit. But, you’ll spot that it is shorter than 2857, the loco standing to the right of it. When that pit was constructed it was a massive improvement to Bridgnorth yard, doubling the pit capacity at that time. But, to be honest, it’s really only suitable for preparing and examining the shortest SVR locos. Ideally it needs to be lengthened or replaced, but there are always other things to spend the money on. 

The bird’s eye view of 2857 isn’t great, but nevertheless there are points of interest with regards to the tender. If you look very closely there are two brown coloured lines on the platework by the water filler. They are a couple of spare firebars. Made of cast iron, these are consumable items which will burn away until they weaken and break. That’s if they last that long, because they can become damaged, broken or warped if footplate crews and shed staff don’t look after the grate. Consumable items they may be, but they don’t come cheap. To replace even half a grate of firebars in 2857 would cost in excess of £1000, and that’s just the material expense. Man-time to replace them and the operational cost of the loco being out of traffic would all add to this cost. This and the coal bill demonstrate that steam locos are costly beasts. But then so are the carriages, the P-Way, the bridges, and everything else. 

To the right of 2857 are the frames of 4930 Hagley Hall, which are on accommodation bogies, whilst the loco wheelsets are receiving attention. In front of these frames is a wagon on which sits the red oxide painted boiler barrel for 82045 and two narrow gauge boiler components from contract work. To the right of them is the long inspection pit. This is much more suitable for working under a large loco such as 2857. 

And finally, to the right of the long pit is a wagon carrying another boiler. This is from 4150 and is awaiting its turn to move into the boiler shop, hopefully in the near future.  

Photo: Antony Bartlam 

A view from the buffet, on the ‘front line’ of passenger service 

 

The SVR has more than 40 volunteers in its on board buffet department, but it’s not just about coffee, crisps and cakes. As self-described ‘trolley dolly’ Jim Taylor explains, they’re playing a key role in making sure our passengers have a wonderful day out, and will want to come back to visit again. 

 

What I love about my role is talking to the passengers and helping them to enjoy their day with us. We play a crucial part in how visitors experience the SVR and it’s lovely when we get compliments. I remember one chap who told us he was a senior shareholder, and said how impressed he was by our efforts. It’s things like this that tell you when you’re getting it right.  There are also times when we have a breakdown or long delay, and we help to keep the passengers informed and amused about the situation.   

 

There’s a lot more to the job than just turning up and selling refreshments though. At least an hour before the train departs, you have to assemble all the items for sale from the bases at Kidderminster and Bridgnorth. We’re told in advance about any groups or coach parties that are booked in, and that helps you gauge how much stock you’ll need. Next you’ve got to get everything loaded onto the train along with the hot water canister for the trolley. 

 

Usually, we work in pairs, with one person serving in the buffet car, and the other taking out the trolley, visiting each carriage. As the train approaches stations with short platforms, such as Bewdley and Highley, you need to make sure that you’re not in the way because passengers need to move along the train in order to get off!  

 

My wife Pat and I have been volunteering for seven years now, and one of the highlights was the guy who ordered two brandies before we’d even left Kidderminster. I understood everything when he explained that he would be meeting his girlfriend at Bewdley and needed a little Dutch courage before proposing to her.  

 

At the end of the day, we have ensure the gas and water taps are turned off and unload everything onto a platform trolley for transportation and careful storage back in the shed. We also prep for the next day’s crew by stocking the fridges, filling crisp boxes and filling the trolley canister with water ready to heat up. When you’ve covered the last train, you can often be last member of staff to leave the station, and you keep your fingers crossed that the car park isn't locked!  

 

As well as the satisfaction we get from interaction with passengers, it’s also rather pleasing to know that the sale of on train refreshments contributes more than £100,000 a year to the Railway’s revenue.  

Bated breath as 75069’s boiler gets its steam test 

 

Thursday 30th August was a big day for locomotive 75069, with a visit scheduled by the boiler insurance examiner. Happily, its boiler passed the out-of-frames steam test, although there are still one or two items of paperwork to resolve. The photograph of the gauge was taken during the course of the test. 

 

After a little bit more steaming and fettling this coming week, the boiler will go back into the boiler shop for the fitting of lagging, cladding and super-heater header and to have the smoke box properly attached to the boiler barrel. Once this is completed the boiler will be lifted to have the ash pan attached before being placed into the rolling chassis to enable the final assembly to take place in the main works.  

 

Works planner Martin White explains that there will still be plenty to do before a steam test can be carried out: 

 

“The brick arch will be built inside the firebox, the valve gear will be set and the loco will be weighed and have the weights adjusted appropriately across all axles and wheels. Finally there will be a period of steam tests and running in before the 75’ is ready to enter traffic on SVR trains. At some point in all this, painting, lettering, lining and varnishing will need to be considered. Everyone wants to know when it will be ready, and the simply answer is - it’ll be ready when it’s ready!” 

In Memoriam 

Bernard Rainbow MBE

It with deep sadness that I must inform you of the passing of Bernard Rainbow MBE on Saturday 1st September. Bernard was a long-standing volunteer, well respected for his knowledge of locomotives, particularly of the GWR region. After starting his career at Tysley he became one of the Royal train drivers at Saltley. It was at this time he started volunteering at the SVR training new fireman, and over time rose to become Chief Loco Inspector on the SVR. Our condolences are sent to his wife, Margaret and two children, Julie and Gary, at this very sad time.

 

Funeral arrangements are as follows: Thursday 20th September 2018 At 12pm At St Alphege Church, Bryanston Road, Solihull, B91 1BS After the service at the church a gathering at the Ramada Hotel, The Square, Solihull, B91 3RF will take place following a burial at Widney Manor Cemetary, Solihull. All welcome to attend but the family have requested family flowers only please with donations to Myeloma Cancer Charity.

 

Nick Ralls General Manager

Nick’s notes 

General manager Nick Ralls shares news of some important decisions by the Holdings board 

At the Holdings board meeting in August, there were a number of key decisions to take in preparation for 2019.   

The fare structure has been the subject of negotiation with the Heritage Management Advisory Group and with other volunteer groups.  An increase is required as our costs are always on the rise. The utility costs for the Railway increased by 10% in 2017.  Inevitably the price for coal and diesel will rise and there will be an increase in the costs of locomotive material.  We also expect a government increase in the living wage which will increase the salary bill.  These price increases will be featured in the 2019 timetable brochure which is currently in preparation and which will be available for the Worley Model Railway show. 

Chris Bond, our infrastructure manager, has begun work on planning the annual viaduct repairs for the coming winter, and this year Borle Viaduct has been chosen. Chris received board approval to expend £4,000 on preliminary surveys and tendering, so that he is in a position to award a contract towards the end of this year. 

A contract is also being let for Phase II of Bridgnorth, for work on the field car park and access roads.  The work will commence this autumn and be completed this winter.  This is important in terms of improving parking and the visitor welcome at Bridgnorth station. The Bridgnorth facilities will become crucial during the early part of 2020, as we undertake the work on Falling Sands Viaduct from January to March, rendering Kidderminster station isolated from the rest of the line for three months.  I will keep you updated on the plans for Bridgnorth in the coming months. 

Working Member Benefits

We have some great offers available to Working Members, including Travel, Gym Membership, Specsavers Eye Tests, Pomodoro Restaurant, Style Hair Salon and Doddingtree Estate & Letting Agency. 

 

Full details can be found on our Express Points Benefits Page. 

Reciprocal rail travel for our Working Members

Have you checked out the list of heritage railways that offer free or discounted travel to SVR working members?

Please visit our Reciprocal travel page for full details.

 

Vacancies at the Railway

There are usually a number of vacancies for paid staff at the SVR and you can find full details at http://www.svr.co.uk/Employment.aspx Please let friends and family know about these opportunities.

Unleash your inner spook 

Volunteers are needed to haunt the platforms of Arley station, and add an extra scary aspect to the SVR’s 2018  Ghost Train services. There’ll be four trains each evening and the event takes place over three nights: Saturday 27th, Tuesday 30th and Wednesday 31st October. 

Training, make up and costumes can be provided on request, but if you have your own, even better. It’s sure to be a fun evening, and if you’re interested in giving our passengers the fright of their life, or would like some more information, please email the event co-ordinator, lewis.maddox@svrlive.com 

Please pass the call up on to anyone you think would be up for some serious spooking!   

A wizard time was had by all 

On four spellbinding days last month, the SVR was transformed into a magical world of wizardry and witchcraft as we put on a series of events quite unlike anything that’s happened at the Railway before. 

The Wizard Express services, run in conjunction with events company Moo & Goo, were aimed to appeal to a rather magical type of visitor; those keen to immerse themselves in a world of potions, spells and broomstick riding lessons. Timed to coincide with the school summer holidays, and running alongside our normal service trains, the events attracted 1,100 extra visitors over the course of the four days in August. 

The passenger reaction was hugely positive – here’s a selection of comments: 

“The magicians on the train made the journey enjoyable. We will definitely stay longer to look around the station and enjoy the other exhibits” 

“Fantastic day…learning to fly broomsticks, making magic wands and meeting owls” 

“You should all be really proud of yourselves, you’ve put on a brilliant day.” 

General manager Nick Ralls said, “The Wizard events were something of a departure from the sort of thing we’ve done before, and were a fantastic success. They’ve brought in a whole new raft of passengers, happy to pay a premium rate for a wonderful experience. I am hugely grateful to Team SVR for making it all happen, from those within the core planning team, namely Elise Ballard and her team, Tammy Ferris and Lewis Maddox, to  all those across the Railway who worked so hard on the days of the events to give our visitors a thoroughly entertaining day out.” 

 

Photo below: 7714 hauls the Wizard Express (Ian Murray) 

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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.

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