The Severn Valley Railway 1940’s weekend takes place on the weekends of 29/30 June and 6/7 July. This year An ambulance train will be present for the 75 Anniversary ofD-Day. Ambulance trains were A synonymous sight of the 1940s and consisted of older carriages which had their interiors removed, were fitted with beds and labelled with a Red Cross, denoting an ambulance trains. There is also a Battle of Britain Memorial Flypast on July 7th featuring the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight’s Lancaster flying over Bridgnorth Station. A Buick M18 Hellcat 807 XXU tank will be Stationed at Kidderminster station, and GWR 7325 is also on display at Kidderminster Station. There will be many vintage vehicles on display at various stations plus there are Free vintage bus rides. Visitors to the signal box will also have the opportunity to learn how to operate traditional signals.
There will be many costumed re-enactors at the stations and on trains including black market spivs and The ‘Lumberjill’s’ will be at Bewdley providing much needed timber. A mock battle will be taking place at the Engine house in Highley which will also be open for visitors. The Big Band Show will be taking place at Kidderminster plus much more Musical entertainment including the Kalamazoo Band, Brandon Shaw and The Ronnies, will be performed up and down the line. There are many Costumed reenactors three will be dressed as Winston Churchill, General Montgomery & King George VI plus There is also A firefighting reenactment each day, and a display of firefighting vehicles, courtesy of NFS & AFS Vehicles Group. There is also a 1940’s Rest Centre, Hairdresser, vintage clothing stalls, Air Raid Shelter, ARP Post, Railway Memorabilia and a Tobacconist. There will also be closing ceremonies on both Sundays featuring World War II Veterans.
The Severn Valley Railway heritage line reopened on 23 May 1970 . The Severn Valley line Railway was originally built between 1858 and 1862, and linked Hartlebury, near Droitwich Spa, with Shrewsbury, a distance of 40 miles (64 km). Important stations on the line were Stourport-on-Severn, Bewdley and Arley within Worcestershire, and Highley, Hampton Loade, Bridgnorth, Coalport, Ironbridge and Broseley, Buildwas, Cressage and Berrington in Shropshire.
Although the railway was built by the original Severn Valley Railway Company, it was operated from opening on 1 February 1862 by the West Midland Railway which was absorbed into the Great Western Railway on 1 August 1863. In 1878 the GWR opened a link line between Bewdley and Kidderminster. This meant trains could run direct from the Black Country to areas of Shropshire. Most Kidderminster to Bewdley trains continued through the Wyre Forest line (dismantled in the 1960s and now forming part of National Cycle Route 45) to Tenbury Wells or Woofferton. At Buildwas Junction (now the site of Ironbridge Power Station near what is now Telford) Severn Valley trains connected with services from Wellington to Much Wenlock and Craven Arms.
Prior to preservation, the Severn Valley line was never financially successful. Freight traffic, mostly agricultural, and coal traffic from the collieries of Alveley and Highley were the principal sources of revenue. The line was strategically useful in the Second World War as an alternative diversionary route around the West Midlands. After nationalisation in 1948, passenger traffic started to dwindle. Whilst it is generally believed that the line was closed under the Beeching cuts of the 1960s, the Severn Valley Line was, already scheduled for closure prior to the publication of Beeching’s report ‘The Reshaping of British Railways’ on 27 March 1963. British Railways had announced in January 1962 that the Severn Valley line was under review, and the B.T.C. published closure proposal notices on 1 October 1962 in advance of a meeting of the West Midlands Transport Users Consultative Committee which took place at Bridgnorth Town Hall on 8 November 1962? Objections to the proposed closure were unsuccessful and the line was closed to through passenger services on 9 September 1963 and to through freight services on 30 November 1963. Following closure, the track north of Bridgnorth was dismantled. After 1963, coal traffic survived south of Alveley until 1969, while a sparse passenger service continued to link Bewdley with Kidderminster and Hartlebury, until this too ceased in January 1970. Freight traffic between the British Sugar Corporation’s Foley Park factory and Kidderminster continued until 1982. A very small section of the original Severn Valley line continued to carry coal traffic to Ironbridge Power Station until its closure in November 2015. For much of its working life the Severn Valley line was operated by the Great Western Railway and subsequently the Western Region of British Railways.
The Severn Valley Railway Society was formed in July 1965 by a group of members who wished to preserve a section of the line which had closed in 1963. To achieve this, the Severn Valley Railway Company was incorporated in May 1967. Even at that early date, the objective of the company was to ‘preserve, retain and restore the standard-gauge railway extending from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster via Bewdley’. The SVR initially acquired 5½ miles of the line between Bridgnorth and Alveley Colliery from BR at a cost of £25,000. In May 23 1970 a Light Railway Order was granted allowing services to begin between Bridgnorth and Hampton Loade. And the Severn Valley Railway began operating as a heritage railway. The end of coal trains from the colliery in 1973 then allowed SVR to acquire a further 8½ miles of the line as far as Foley Park, the purchase price of £74,000 being raised by the floatation of a public company initially under the chairmanship of Sir Gerald Nabarro and Services were extended to Bewdley in May 1974.
Following the end of freight traffic from BSC at Foley Park in 1982, the SVR purchased the final section of the line to Kidderminster at a cost of £75,000. The SVR also rented the former Comberton Hill goods yard at Kidderminster from BR, on which a new station would be built. This was achieved in time for services to Kidderminster to begin on 30 July 1984. Major developments on the SVR since 1984 have included the commissioning of a newly constructed signal box at Kidderminster in 1987, the opening of a new boiler shop at Bridgnorth in 1990, the opening of a new carriage shed at Kidderminster in 2003, the completion of the east wing and canopy of Kidderminster Station in 2006, and the opening of the Engine House Museum at Highley in 2008. 2010 marked the Severn Valley railway’s 40th anniversary since opening in 1970 and the 175th anniversary of the formation of the Great Western Railway. 2015 marked the 50th anniversary since the birth of the Severn Valley Railway Association on 6 July 1965. Special events were staged during both years to mark these anniversaries.
The Severn Valley Railway Spring Steam Gala, takes place from March 15th until March 17th 2019 and features 10 steam locomotives. GWR No. 1450 was also due to work the push-pull autotrain however this will now be replaced by Pannier Tank No. 1501, which will be paired with Autocoach No. 178 and as No. 1501 is not auto-fitted, the service will no longer be push-pull. There are four visiting locomotives which will work alongside the home fleet for the gala. Visiting locomotives this year include:
GWR Pannier Tank No. 6430. This tank engine worked Autotrains in the South Wales Valleys from 1940 until 1954, being based at Pontypool and Newport during this time. With thanks to Llangollen Railway.
GWR Large Prairie No. 4144. This Large Prairie locomotive was Based at Tondu for a number of years, and was used for hauling local passenger trains deep in South Wales. With thanks to Great Western Preservation.
GWR 5600 No. 5619 “Taffy Tank” This Locomotive regularly hauled Heavy coal trains before being preserved, having been based at Barry for a number of years. With thanks to Telford Horsehay Steam Trust.
LNWR ‘Coal Tank’ No. 1054. This locomotive was built in 1888 and worked the last passenger train over the Merthyr & Abergavenny Railway on January 5th 1958. It was the last surviving member of its class, and was put into store at Abergavenny in the late 1950s where it was fitted with a snow plough in event of disruptive snowfalls during the winter months. It was brought out of storage to assist with the last passenger train over the Merthyr & Abergavenny Railway, on a special excursion. With thanks to the National Trust & Bahamas Locomotive Society.
Home fleet locomotives operating during the Severn Valley Railway Spring Steam Gala include:
GWR Saddle Tank No. 813. This locomotive was Originally built for the Port Talbot Railway & Docks Company, and was predominantly used for hauling coal trains and shunting in colliery sidings.
GWR Pannier Tank No. 1501. This locomotive was regularly used for hauling long rakes of empty coaching stock in and out of Paddington Station.
GWR heavy-freight 2-8-0 No. 2857. This Great Western frieght Locomotive ended its working life in Neath (having spent many years at other sheds in South Wales) after covering 1,276,713 miles.
GWR Pannier Tank 0-6-0 No. 7714. This was one of Hundreds of Pannier Tanks which were built for the Great Western Railway, with No. 7714 being based in mid-Wales until 1959 when it was sold to NCB Penallta Colliery in South Wales.
GWR Manor 4-6-0 No. 7802 Bradley Manor. The GWR 4-6-0 Manor locomotives are associated with the Cambrian Network, and No. 7802 Bradley Manor could often be found hauling the Cambrian Coast Express from Shrewsbury to the coast in the post-war years.
British Rail Standard 4 locomotive No. 75069 . This locomotive was originally built at Swindon Works. The Standard 4s could often be found operating in Wales, with No. 75069 ending up in Barry Scarpyard until it was overhauled at the Severn Valley Railway entering service again in 2019
The Severn Valley Railway features in a new BBC1 television programme entitled, ‘River Walks’. It is presented by Actress Shobna Gulati, who is currently starring in the hit West End Musical ‘Everybody’s Talking about Jamie’, and has previously appeared in Coronation Street, Dinnerladies and Doctor Who and explores stories that are part of the stunning River Severn’s landscape.
Shobna spent 4 days filming along the footpaths alongside the Severn riverbanks between Bewdley and Bridgnorth during early November 2018 . Shobna then returns along the Severn Valley Railway from Bridgnorth to Bewdley riding on the footplate of Class 4 No. 43106. Amongst the many other highlights was sailing on Trimpley Reservoir with 85 year old Ray Drury from Stourbridge, a member of the Trimpley Sailing Club for 50 years who took Shobna out for her first ever sailing lesson. Shobna also met up with ex-miner, Trevor Jones, at the Severn Valley Country Park in Alveley, who recalled his memories of working down the Coal Mine at Alveley in the 1950s, before it was closed in 1969 and transformed into the country park
The program was made by Kidderminster based TV Production Company, GOSH! TV, for the BBC. The Creative Director and Producer, Paul Barnett, approached Shobna to present the programme, Prior to doing River Walks Paul, has also produced and directed many successful TV series for the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, including Coast, Come Dine With Me and Embarrassing Bodies, and has travelled to many places including Scotland and Thailand. River Walks is broadcast on Monday 10th December at 7.30pm
English civil engineer Sir John Fowler, 1st Baronet KCMG LLD sadly died 20 November 1898. He was born 15 July 1817. in Wadsley, Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, to land surveyor John Fowler and his wife Elizabeth (née Swann). He was educated privately at Whitley Hall near Ecclesfield. He trained under John Towlerton Leather, engineer of the Sheffield waterworks, and with Leather’s uncle, George Leather, on the Aire and Calder Navigation an railway surveys. From 1837 he worked for John Urpeth Rastrick on railway projects including the London and Brighton Railway and the unbuilt West Cumberland and Furness Railway. He then worked again for George Leather as resident engineer on the Stockton and Hartlepool Railway and was appointed engineer to the railway when it opened in 1841. Fowler initially established a practice as a consulting engineer in the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire area, but, a heavy workload led him to move to London in 1844. He became a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1847, the year the Institution was founded, and a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1849.
He specialised in the construction of railways and railway infrastructure . In 1853, he became chief engineer of the Metropolitan Railway in London, the world’s first underground railway, which opened between Paddington and Farringdon in 1863. Fowler was also engineer for the associated Metropolitan District Railway and the Hammersmith and City Railway. They were built by the “cut-and-cover” method under city streets. To avoid problems with smoke and steam overwhelming staff and passengers on the covered sections of the Metropolitan Railway, Fowler proposed a fireless locomotive. The locomotive was built by Robert Stephenson and Company and was a broad gauge 2-4-0 tender engine. The boiler had a normal firebox connected to a large combustion chamber containing fire bricks which were to act as a heat reservoir. The combustion chamber was linked to the smokebox through a set of very short firetubes. Exhaust steam was re-condensed instead of escaping and feed back to the boiler. The locomotive was intended to operate conventionally in the open, but in tunnels dampers would be closed and steam would be generated using the stored heat from the fire bricks.
The first trial on the Great Western Railway in October 1861 was a failure. The condensing system leaked, causing the boiler to run dry and pressure to drop, risking a boiler explosion. A second trial on the Metropolitan Railway in 1862 was also a failure, and the fireless engine was abandoned, becoming known as “Fowler’s Ghost”. The locomotive was sold to Isaac Watt Boulton in 1865; he intended to convert it into a standard engine but it was eventually scrapped. On opening, the Metropolitan Railway’s trains were provided by the Great Western Railway, but these were withdrawn in August 1863. After a period hiring trains from the Great Northern Railway, the Metropolitan Railway introduced its own Fowler designed, 4-4-0 tank engines in 1864. The design, known as the A class and, with minor updates, the B class, was so successful that the Metropolitan and Metropolitan District Railways eventually had 120 of the engines in use and they remained in operation until electrification of the lines in the 1900s. Today these railways form the majority of the London Underground’s Circle line
Fowler established a busy practice, working on many railway schemes across the country. He became chief engineer for the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway and was engineer of the East Lincolnshire Railway, the Oxford, Worcester and Wolverhampton Railway and the Severn Valley Railway. Other railways that Fowler consulted for were the London Tilbury and Southend Railway, the Great Northern Railway, the Highland Railway and the Cheshire Lines Railway. Following the death of Isambard Kingdom Brunel in 1859, Fowler was retained by the Great Western Railway. His various appointments involved him in the design of Victoria station in London, Sheffield Victoria station, St Enoch station in Glasgow, Liverpool Central station and Manchester Central station.The latter station’s 210-foot (64 m) wide train shed roof was the second widest unsupported iron arch in Britain after the roof of St Pancras railway station. Fowler’s consulting work extended beyond Britain including railway and engineering projects in Algeria, Australia, Belgium, Egypt, France, Germany, Portugal and the United States. He travelled to Egypt for the first time in 1869 and worked on a number of, mostly unrealised, schemes for the Khedive, including a railway to Khartoum in Sudan which was planned in 1875 but not completed until after his death.
In 1870 he provided advice to an Indian Government inquiry on railway gauges where he recommended a narrow gauge of 3 feet 6 inches (1.07 m) for light railways.He visited Australia in 1886, where he made some remarks on the break of gauge difficulty. Later in his career, he was also a consultant with his partner Benjamin Baker and with James Henry Greathead on two of London’s first tube railways, the City and South London Railway and the Central London Railway. As part of his railway projects, Fowler also designed numerous bridges. In the 1860s, he designed Grosvenor Bridge, the first railway bridge over the River Thames,and the 13-arch Dollis Brook Viaduct for the Edgware, Highgate and London Railway. He is credited with the design of the Victoria Bridge at Upper Arley, Worcestershire, constructed between 1859 and 1861,and the near identical Albert Edward Bridge at Coalbrookdale, Shropshire built from 1863 to 1864. Both remain in use today carrying railway lines across the River Severn. In the 1880s, he was chief engineer for the Forth Railway Bridge, which opened in 1890 and Following the collapse of Sir Thomas Bouch’s Tay Bridge in 1879, Fowler, William Henry Barlow and Thomas Elliot Harrison were appointed in 1881 to a commission to review Bouch’s design for the Forth Railway Bridge. The commission recommended a steel cantilever bridge designed by Fowler and Benjamin Baker, which was constructed between 1883 and 1890
Fowler stood unsuccessfully for parliament as a Conservative candidate in 1880 and 1885. His standing within the engineering profession was very high, to the extent that he was elected president of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1865, its youngest president. Through his position in the Institution and through his own practice, he led the development of training for engineers. In 1857, he purchased a 57,000 acres (23,000 ha) estate at Braemore in Ross-shire, Scotland, where he spent frequent holidays and where he was a Justice of the Peace and a Deputy Lieutenant of the County.He listed his recreations in Who’s Who as yachting and deerstalking and was a member of the Carlton Club, St Stephen’s Club, the Conservative Club and the Royal Yacht Squadron. He was also President of the Egyptian Exploration Fund.In 1885 he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George as thanks from the government for allowing the use of maps of the Upper Nile valley he had had made when working on the Khedive’s projects.
They were the most accurate survey of the area and were used in the British Relief of Khartoum. Following the successful completion of the Forth Railway Bridge in 1890, Fowler was created a baronet, taking the name of his Scottish estate as his territorial designation. Along with Benjamin Baker, he received an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Edinburgh in 1890 for his engineering of the bridge. In 1892, the Poncelet Prize was doubled and awarded jointly to Baker and Fowler. Fowler died in Bournemouth, Dorset, 20 November at the age of 81 and is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London. He was succeeded in the baronetcy by his son, Sir John Arthur Fowler, 2nd Baronet sadly he died 25 March 1899 and The baronetcy became extinct in 1933 on the death of Reverend Sir Montague Fowler, 4th Baronet, the first baronet’s third son.
Charismatic Engineer, Steeplejack and British television personality Fred Dibnah tragically died on 7 November 2004. He was Born 28th April 1938 near Bolton. As a child, Dibnah was fascinated by the steam engines which powered the many textile mills in his home town of Bolton and developed a keen interest in mechanical engineering, Steam Engines and chimneys and the men who worked on them. He began his working life as a joiner, before becoming a steeplejack. From age 22, he served for two years in the armed forces, as part of his national service. Once demobilised, he returned to steeplejacking but met with limited success until he was asked to repair Bolton’s parish church. The resulting publicity provided a welcome boost to his business, ensuring he was almost never out of work.
Dibnah’s interest in steam power stemmed from his childhood observations of the steam locomotives on the nearby railway line, and his visits to his father’s workplace—a bleach works in Bolton—where he was fascinated by the steam engines used to drive the line shafting. He later became a steam enthusiast, befriending many of the engine drivers and firemen who worked on the nearby railway. As a teenager he met a driver who invited him onto the footplate of his locomotive and who asked him to keep the boiler supplied with fuel. Dibnah became so enamoured with steam engines that he eventually looked for one he could buy. He learnt of a steamroller kept in a barn near Warrington and which the owners had bought from Flintshire County Council. He had the boiler pressure-tested and, despite it being in poor condition, bought it for £175. He towed it to a friend’s house, spent a fortnight making various repairs and drove it to his mother’s house in Bolton.
After he married and bought his own property on Radcliffe new Road, he cut an access road to the garden of his new house and moved the steamroller there. Restoring the engine took many years, as Dibnah had to create his own replacement parts, using Victorian engineering techniques and equipment he built in his garden. The boiler was in poor condition and needed serious work, but Dibnah used local knowledge and was eventually able to build a new boiler. Once restored, he used the 1910 Aveling & Porter steamroller together with a living van he bought and restored, to take his family around the local steam fairs In 1978, while making repairs to Bolton Town Hall, Dibnah was filmed by a regional BBC news crew. The BBC then commissioned an award-winning documentary, which followed the rough-hewn steeplejack as he worked on chimneys, interacted with his family and talked about his favourite hobby—steam.
He made many more Television programmes about Steam Engines & Locomotives and In 1998, he presented a programme on Britain’s industrial history and went on to present a number of fascinating series, largely concerned with the Industrial Revolution and its mechanical and architectural legacy. In mid-2000, Dibnah was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Technology for his achievement in engineering by Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, and on 19 July 2004 he was made an honorary Doctor of the University by the University of Birmingham. He was also awarded an MBE for services to heritage and broadcasting. He said “I’m looking forward to meeting the Queen but I shall probably have to get a new cap. And I’d like to meet Prince Charles because we share the same views about modern architecture.”On 7 July 2004, Dibnah went to Buckingham Palace to receive his award from the Queen.
Sadly Fred’s health was failing at this point although filming continued at various locations around the country, with sons Jack and Roger, who had become essential members of the tour, providing much-needed support for their father. By the end of July, the crew had filmed only 34 days with Dibnah, out of a planned 60. It was becoming more difficult by the day for Dibnah to fulfil his filming duties and the crew decided to cut short the schedule and he died shortly after and is sadly missed. He is survived by his five children from three marriages.
To celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of The Severn Valley Railway and the 50th year of the class 50 Diesel locomotive there is a Class 50 Diesel Golden Jubilee event from October 4th to 6th at the Severn Valley Railway in conjunction with The Class 50 Alliance.
The British Rail Class 50 was a class of 50 diesel locomotives designed to haul express passenger trains at 100mph. Built by English Electric at the Vulcan Foundry in Newton-le-Willows between 1967 and 1968, the Class 50’s were initially on a 10-year lease from English Electric Leasing, and were employed hauling express passenger trains on the, then non-electrified, section of the West Coast Main Line between Crewe and Scotland. Initially numbered D400 – D449 and known as English Electric Type 4s, the locomotives were purchased outright by British Rail (BR) at the end of the lease and became Class 50 in the TOPS renumbering of 1973. The class were nicknamed “Hoovers” by rail enthusiasts because of the distinctive sound made by the dynamic braking resistor cooling fan arrangement (removed at refurbishment). Once the electrification from Crewe to Glasgow was completed the locomotives were moved to the South West of England to allow the retirement of the remaining diesel-hydraulic locomotives then in use. As these trains steadily moved to High Speed Train operation from 1976, the Class 50s moved to hauling trains between London Waterloo and Exeter St Davids, and also trains from London Paddington to Hereford and Worcester via Oxford. The class was steadily retired from service in the late 1980s and early 1990s as their services moved to operation by second-generation DMUs.
The Class 50 was created after the British Transport Commission (BTC) requested a design for a Diesel locomotive with a gross power output of at least 2500hp. In order to produce a prototype quickly, English Electric based their design on that for their Deltic locomotives which were then in production. Other parts related to another current design, the Class 37s were also used. The result was DP2, a 2700hp Diesel-electric locomotive weighing 107 tons and with a top speed of 100mph. The prototype was delivered to British Rail in May 1962
The prototype was deemed successful and negotiations took place with English Electric for a production batch of 50 locomotives for use on the Eastern Region English Electric intended to build the new batch as similar to DP2 as possible but the British Railways Board (successor to the BTC) had produced a standard locomotive cab with a flat front and headcode box and also had specific requirements relating to the engine room and other equipment. English Electric produced several alternative front-end designs including one with a wrap-around windscreen but the standard front-end design was eventually adopted for the class.
The complete production run of 50 locomotives was built in just over a year and numbered from D400 to D449. D400 entered service in October 1967 and deliveries were completed with D449 in November 1968 Unusually, the ownership of the locomotives remained with the manufacturer and they were operated by British Rail on a 10-year lease which included certain stipulations relating to availability The D prefix was quickly dropped as for all diesel locos after steam had disappeared in 1968. The locos ran as 400 to 449 from 1969 to 1974. In 1984, 50007 Hercules was repainted into lined Brunswick green livery and renamed Sir Edward Elgar, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Great Western Railway (GWR).
From 1987, the class was used on freight trains. So 50049 “Defiance” was renumbered to 50149, equipped with modified Class 37, lower-geared bogies and outshopped in the new trainload grey livery with Railfreight General decals. During the 1990s, the reliability of the fleet became a problem again so the fleet was retired and, temporarily replaced with Class 47/7 locomotives,then by new Diesel Multiple Units. By 1992, just eight locomotives remained in servic Nos:50007/50008/50015/50029/50030/50033/50046/ 50050. Several of these locomotives were specially repainted to commemorate the run-down of the fleet. The first-built locomotive, 50050 Fearless was renumbered D400 and painted in its original BR Blue livery. Two other locomotives, 50008 Thunderer and 50015 Valiant were also repainted, the former in a variation of BR Blue. Of the final eight locomotives, three were retained until 1994 for use on special railtours, these being 50007 Sir Edward Elgar, 50033 Glorious and 50050 Fearless. 50007 was returned to working order. 50050 was repainted into Large Logo livery and 50007 was repainted into GWR green.
Locomotives attending the event include class 50 50007 Hercules, Garcia Hanson’s 50008 Thunderer, 50011 Centurion, 50035 Ark Royal, 50031 Hood, 50044 Exeter, 50015 Valiant, Neil Boden’s 50017 Royal Oak and Paul Spracklen’s 50026 Indomitable , 50049 Defiance and 50050 (D400) Fearless.