Published: 21st October 2015
Traditionally, heritage lines round off the main season with an autumn gala then wind things down for a while before setting about frenetic operations through the Santa season. This is not quite the case at the Severn Valley Railway this year as it celebrates its 50th anniversary by offering a series of October trains worked by the crème de la crème of top notch motive power.
Having shared star billing (with ‘Britannia’ No. 70000 Britannia) at SVR’s autumn gala – hailed as one of the most successful events in the lines history - freshly overhauled No. 46100 Royal Scot (which arrived at SVR in early September) has continued to clock-up running-in miles before returning to main line action by hauling passenger services on selected October dates. Royal Scot was scheduled to work public trains on October 17-18 and 24-25.
There is more! None other than mega-attraction new-build A1 No. 60163 Tornado has returned to SVR for the first time in four years to participate in the railway’s Golden Anniversary celebrations. Coincidentally, this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the last passenger runs undertaken by an original LNER A1, which took place in December 1965. Tornado will run at the SVR on the same dates as Royal Scot with normal fares applying and Annual Family Pass’s being valid.
The final three GWR ‘Manor’ locomotives to work on the Cambrian Railway’s network will be reunited during Severn Valley Railway’s November 14-15 ‘Manor 50’ event.
Fifty years after the GWR trio were consigned to the scrapyard, No. 7802 Bradley Manor will make a formal return to service following overhaul (which commenced in late 2011) joining fellow SVR resident No. 7812 Erlestoke Manor and Dinmore Manor Locomotive Ltd’s visiting No. 7820 Dinmore Manor.
The event is planned to pay homage to the Cambrian Coast line of 1965 traversed by ‘Manor’ class locomotives between Shrewsbury, Aberystwyth and Pwllheli - the last days of these locomotives on a route which could be considered their spiritual home.
Bradley Manor, Erlestoke Manor and Dinmore Manor were the final three to work on this line, being withdrawn from service in November 1965 and sold as scrap, arriving at Woodham’s Barry yard in early 1966. Mercifully, Erlestoke Manor fund purchased No. 7812 for preservation in 1973, No. 7802 was bought for use on Severn Valley Railway in 1979 and Dinmore Manor Locomotive Ltd secured No. 7820, also in 1979.
Other weekend highlights include Small Prairie No. 4566 and GWR Churchward Toplight coaches in use on a four-train special timetable also featuring famed named trains including a Cambrian Coast Express dining train. There will be photographic displays at Bridgnorth station and an evening film show at Kidderminster Railway Museum.
On November 13 the ex-Cambrian ‘Manor‘ trio are set to work special Footplate Experiences. Subject to availability, Bradley Manor or Dinmore Manor will run two Intermediate Footplate Experiences between Kidderminster and Highley, while Erlestoke Manor will offer a Taster Footplate Experience between Kidderminster and Bewdley. An Intermediate Footplate Experience with Dinmore Manor will also be run on November 21.
In addition to marking half a century since the last three of the ‘Manor’ class saw operational service on the Cambrian network and the achievement of preservationists in saving them to ensure they could still in steam 50 years after being sent for scrap, SVR’s ‘Manor 50’ event rounds off a trio of special events aimed at celebrating SVR’s 50 years of preservation in style. The first of the season finale events was the September 17-20 Autumn Gala, followed by the October 1-3 Diesel Enthusiasts Gala.
With its 2015 autumn gala just having taken place, Severn Valley Railway has already lined up the star of its 2016 Autumn Steam Gala to take place over September 22-25 next year – none other than the NRM’s Flying Scotsman ( http://www.rail.co.uk/rail-news/2015/flying-scotsman-return-to-service-not-far-away/ ).
These events really cement the SVR as one of the very top preserved railways and their pioneers 50 years ago could not have dreamed what they had started!