Cliff Thomas

Peep behind the scenes at a pair of preserved railways

Published: 2nd June 2014

The Severn Valley Railway and Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway stage open days.

Our preserved railways give a great showcase for the UK’s railway history but the ever growing Health and Safety burdon has meant that many parts of preserved railways are no longer accessible to the public.

However, some railways offer a behind the scenes day and the next one is at The small relative newcomer to preservation, The Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway on Saturday June 14. The main location for visitors will be at Chinnor station where there will be displays from all departments manned by volunteers.

These displays will give information about the various activities that volunteers get up to run a railway and literally provide a platform for recruiting new volunteers. Last year the line won a major award for its innovative train operation in partnership with Chiltern Railways, Network Rail and Wolverton Railway Works.

So whether you fancy driving the train or being the signalman/women or maintaining and restoring locomotives and carriages, this is the best chance to see what’s on offer. The railway celebrates its 20th anniversary this August with several special events and midweek running for the first time in its history.

Free seven mile round-trip train rides are on offer for this day only on the Chinnor & Princess Risborough Railway.

Severn Valley Railway behind the scenes in July

The SVR is over 40 years old and runs for 16 miles between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth and is in the top division of our preserved railways.

Their ‘Peep Behind The Scenes’ day on July 19 offers the chance to see and experience what goes into running a large multi-million pound turnover heritage railway. It also offers the chance to get close to some of the railway’s innermost workings which are otherwise normally closed to the public.

This year, the unsung heroes of the permanent way team will be the subject of a special focus. They will perform a hands-on exercise at Bewdley, demonstrating and explaining the vital work they undertake to keep SVR trains running throughout the year.

Also at Bewdley there will be tours of the Paint Shop, Wagon Works and Coach Renovation shop. There will even be an opportunity to ride a short special shuttle train on the remaining stub of the Tenbury/Stourport branch line.

Other highlights include visits inside the locomotive shed at Bridgnorth to view some of the current restoration projects while at Kidderminster there will be the chance to visit the maintenance and restoration shops at the Carriage Works, the Carriage Shed and see the turntable. Elsewhere along the line, visitors can witness how a signal box works, get aboard a GWR first class sleeping carriage and sit in the cab of a diesel locomotive. The Engine House visitor centre’s attractions will include the newly opened Peter’s Railway Young Engineers Centre.

They said;

“There’ll be lots to see, do and learn for people of all ages across the length of the line and plenty of our staff and volunteers will be on hand to tell you all about what you are seeing,” commented SVR marketing and communications manager, Clare Gibbard.

Funds raised help restore GWR Prairie

The event is organised by the 4150 Locomotive Group to raise cash towards restoration of GWR Prairie No. 4150 at Bewdley. The 2-6-2T is the only ex-Barry loco at the SVR yet to steam in preservation. Last year, the day raised around £2,000 towards the project enabling the purchase of materials for the side tanks. The tanks are expected to be completed by the end of this year.

The SVR will be operating as usual with normal rail fares applying on the day. ‘Peep Behind the Scenes’ wristbands cost an additional £5 for adults (accompanied children aged 16 and under are free) and can be purchased on the day from Kidderminster, Bewdley and Bridgnorth stations to give access to the normally closed attractions. To assist advance planning of a visit a guide to the event can be downloaded from www.svr.co.uk.

As the SVR is a working railway, some facilities may be closed during the weekend for operational reasons.

New Peter’s Railway Young Engineers Centre at The Engine House

The latest attraction at the Severn Valley Railway’s Engine House at Highley opened on May 24. The Peter’s Railway Young Engineers Centre is a new exhibition for budding young engineers and steam fans based on the popular series of ‘Peter’s Railway’ children’s books by Christopher Vine.

The Young Engineers Centre features interactive exhibits and informative visuals from the books, which are about Peter, his Grandpa and the miniature steam railway they build and operate on a farm. The attraction also features a Peter’s Railway treasure hunt and a quiz which children can participate in throughout the season with some great prizes.

They said;

“We know a lot of the families that visit us are huge fans of Chris’s books and the exhibit is both the perfect introduction to railways for a growing new audience of steam fans and a thorough lesson in railway engineering for budding young engineers,” said Clare Gibbard, the SVR’s marketing and communications manager.

The Peter’s Railway Young Engineers Centre will run at The Engine House at Highley station until November 30. Entrance to the Engine House Visitor Centre (and Young Engineers Centre) is free to holders of an SVR ‘Freedom of the line’ ticket or Annual Family Pass. SVR trains run daily until October 5.

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