Published: 9th August 2015
The Severn Valley Railway is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year and over 100 of the Founding members gathered to celebrate this Golden Jubilee during a special celebratory day. The initial meeting to consider re-opening the line, closed in April 1963, was held on July 6th, 1965 in the Coopers Arms in Kidderminster.
Columb Howell was one of the young Railway enthusiasts at that meeting and after five years of enormous effort and intensive fundraising, the first, 5 ½ mile section of the line between Bridgnorth and Hampton Loade was purchased and the line re-opened.
“What an incredible achievement it has been over the last 50 years,” Mr Howell explained. “It is beyond our wildest dreams and really goes to show the value of the dedicated volunteers and the paid staff at the Railway.
“Little did we realise what we had taken on, but we refused to be beaten and we have a lot to be proud of – it’s wonderful that part of our Railway history has been preserved in this way. I would also like to say thanks to Keith Beddoes for having the idea in the first place, because without him we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
Another founding member Christopher George said: “I was there right at the very start on the 6th July 1965 and here I am today. We have been celebrating 50 years of absolutely wonderful progress and achievement since that time – who would have possibly thought it?
“It has been absolutely marvellous to bring together a fair selection of founders and other colleagues from those early days in the 1960s and just listening to the buzz of excited conversations with many memories and reminiscences being retold, has been truly memorable and has made the celebration that much more special.
“The Severn Valley Railway started with nothing and over the last 50 years it has grown into a mature heritage railway which is known all over the UK and in many parts of the world, by its success. Long may it prosper!”
At the event, guests travelled on a special anniversary dining train pulled by LMS Ivatt Class 4 No.43106, known locally as the ‘Flying Pig’. This engine arrived at the Railway in 1968 and was in operation on the official opening day in May 1970. The special passengers posed at Bridgnorth to pose for an iconic photo in front of a line-up of 5 steam locomotives including No. 43106 in the Locomotive Works Yard. They then returned to the Kidderminster Railway Museum for refreshments, speeches and the cutting of the 50th anniversary cake prepared by one of the Railway founding members.
The big anniversary event is on 14 and 15 August when The Stones and Who 2 are each playing a gig at Kidderminster station from 830pm. You must buy a ticket in advance and special trains are running after the shows to Bridgnorth for gig ticket holders only.
Bewdley and Bridgnorth where there will be classic vehicles on display.
Highley, The Engine House where Replica Italian Job Minis will be on display and you can meet a Dalek - if you dare. Visit the cockpit of a Hurricane aeroplane and sort the post in our Travelling Post Office that was part of the Great Train Robbery of 1963. There are many other 60’s themed activities at Highley a well.
The Severn Valley Railway (SVR) has announced via social media that it has been negotiating with Rail Safety Solutions (RSS) to create a rail training facility on the former Stourport branch.
Over a mile of the former branchline trackbed, closed in 1970, is owned by the SVR, which joins the SVR main running line just south of Bewdley. The existing branch track stub is adjacent to a fan of storage sidings used by the Permanent Way department. The trackbed to be reinstated includes a high embankment, a steep cutting and a short tunnel thus offering perfect training facilities.
RSS is well known in the rail industry for its Track Warning Systems, Magnetic Fencing and is a large supplier of safety critical staff to the rail industry.
A few progressive preserved railways offer training facilities for Network Rail’s main line contractors as a cheap and safe way to train staff. Access to the main line is difficult on a weekday because of the high volume of trains and at weekends, the staff are working on maintenance and renewals.
So having a weekday training line saves time and money while offering a live railway to work on. The SVR carries over 200,000 passengers a year and is one of the biggest preserved lines in the UK while at the other end of the preserved railway scale, the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway is just 20 years old and runs over a steep four mile stretch of track in the Chilterns.
But it hosts many operational training days booked by Network Rail and has also carried out similar training for Chiltern Railways’ staff. Arrangements like this benefit everyone as RSS get unlimited safe and cost-effective training while the SVR will gain a new branchline! This will probably be dug up and relaid on a regular basis by RSS!
RSS will also be able to have staff using yellow plant on a real railway but away from the main line dangers and this machinery can arrive by rail if required via the connection at Kidderminster. At weekends, the line may be used for steam school services or a push-pull auto train and will offer parallel running for a short distance into Bewdley station.
Although final details have to be signed off, it is thought that RSS will use the line for training on weekdays while the SVR will have use of it at weekends. Work could commence to relay the track in September or October. Bewdley will once again become a junction!
The Class 17 Clayton built diesel No. D8592 only normally operates at the Chinnor and Princes Risborough Railway but after much work by its owners, the Diesel Traction Group, the locomotive has been booked to appear at the Severn Valley Railway Gala on October 1st to 3rd.
But if you cannot get to that event, the locomotive is booked to be used at Chinnor on August 16 at their Summer Gala. A free vintage bus service also operates for this event between Princes Risborough and Chinnor stations. The railway is also offering a ‘Driver for a fiver’ taster for diesel fans on this engine at the Gala.