Severn Valley Railway

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Severn Valley Railway
7903 Bewdley.JPG
Place Bewdley, Worcestershire, England
Terminus Bridgnorth
Commercial Operations
Name Severn Valley Line
Built by Great Western Railway
Gauge ft 8½ in (1435 mm)
Preserved Operations
Operated by Severn Valley Railway Company
Stations 8
Length 16 miles (26 km)
Gauge ft 8½ in (1435 mm)
Commercial History
Opened 1 February 1862
Closed January 1970 (Bewdley Station)
Preservation History
1965 Severn Valley Railway Society formed
1970 Bridgnorth - Hampton Loade reopened
1974 Hampton Loade - Bewdley reopened
1984 Bewdley - Kidderminster reopened
Severn Valley Railway
20px}}} Former line north to Ironbridge, Shrewsbury
20px}}} Bridgnorth Northern terminus
20px}}} Eardington Halt
20px}}} Hampton Loade
20px}}} Country Park Halt
20px}}} Alveley Halt
20px}}} Highley
20px}}} Arley
20px}}} Victoria Bridge over River Severn
20px}}} Northwood Halt
20px}}} Northwood crossing
20px}}} Former Tenbury & Bewdley Railway to Tenbury Wells
20px}}} Bewdley
20px}}} Former line to Stourport, Hartlebury
20px}}} Rifle Range Halt
20px}}} Bewdley Tunnel
20px}}} Foley Park Halt
20px}}} Connection to Birmingham to Worcester via Kidderminster Line
20px}}} Kidderminster Town
GWR Locomotive 7802 "Bradley Manor" with a train at Arley station
Class 108 2-car DMU nos. 56208 and 51935 at Bewdley on 15 October 2004, whilst taking part in the Railcar 50 event. This unit has been restored to its original British Railways green livery.

The Severn Valley Railway is a heritage railway in Shropshire and Worcestershire, England. The 16 miles (26 km) line runs along the Severn Valley from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster, following the course of the River Severn for much of its route. Trains services are hauled predominantly by steam locomotives however diesel locomotives are sometimes used. The SVR is also the base of the DMU (diesel multiple unit) West Midland Group.

The railway is one of the most popular heritage railways in the country. It hosts numerous special events throughout the year, including both steam and diesel galas.

As of November 2007, the railway is operating only a limited service due to extensive damage to infrastructure during bad storms and heavy rainfall. (See below.)


SVR trains usually operate over the whole line length calling at most stations. The "halts" (Northwood Halt and Country Park Halt) are request stops. Passengers may only use these stations during daylight hours. Dining trains (normally on Sundays) include the Severn Valley Limited and the Severn Valley Venturer which are the principal dining car trains.

Many special gala days are held, often with visiting engines and rolling stock from other heritage lines, these and other attractions have seen visitor numbers exceed 250,000 per year.

A diesel multiple unit is used to run a Saturday Evening Fish and Chip Special from May to August, leaving Kidderminster at around 7pm and returning at 10pm after one hour in Bridgnorth.[1]

The SVR's rail connection to the National Rail network at Kidderminster permits occasional through charter trains to operate from many parts of the country to Bridgnorth. A recent example of these visitors was that of the VSOE Northern Belle in 2006. Some trackwork revisions are planned at Kidderminster to improve ingress of future incoming excursions.

The railway operated two revenue earning freight trains in May 2007 which carried 6-metre long pipes from Kidderminster to the Severn Trent plant at Trimpley. Carriage by road of such long pipes would have been difficult because of the narrow roads in the immediate area of Trimpley.


The Severn Valley Railway was used as transport route for 101 years, from 1862 until 1963.[2] The Severn Valley line was 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, Arley, Highley, Hampton Loade, Bridgnorth, Coalport, Ironbridge and Broseley, Buildwas, Cressage and Berrington.[3] The original Severn Valley Railway was absorbed into the Great Western Railway in the 1870s, and in 1878 a link line was constructed from Bewdley to 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 a popular walking route) 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 a by-pass around the West Midlands. A very small section of the original Severn Valley line continues to carry coal traffic to Ironbridge Power Station.

After nationalisation in 1948, passenger traffic started to dwindle. The line was closed to through passenger and freight services under the "Beeching Axe" in 1963 and the track north of Bridgnorth was dismantled. A few passenger services continued to link Bewdley with Kidderminster and Hartlebury, and coal traffic survived south of Alveley, though these activities were stopped in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

For much of its working life it was operated by the Great Western Railway and subsequently the Western Region of British Railways. Today the Severn Valley Railway operates as a heritage railway. Services began in 1970 from Bridgnorth to Hampton Loade, extending to Bewdley in 1974 and Kidderminster in 1984.

Major Infrastructure Damage - Summer 2007

During violent thunderstorms on the evening of 19 June 2007 the railway suffered major damage, much more extensive than any in its history.[4][5][6] The line was damaged between Bridgnorth Outer Home signal and Northwood Halt, where the line has suffered from numerous landslides with many sections of the line suspended in mid-air.(BBC photo) Many cuttings have been filled with debris. At Highley the Up Starter signal and the embankment that it used to stand on were washed away. At Hampton, the access road to the railway station – and indeed the only road to the village – was also washed away.[7] (BBC photo).

Full operations are currently suspended[8] with the line operating between Kidderminster Town and Bewdley as an hourly service only. Three locomotives were stabled at Bewdley (46443, 45110 & 4566) and will operate these services, as the line from Bridgnorth (where the majority of locomotives are stabled) is impassible.

A dozen other heritage railways pledged to help the stricken SVR, including Mid Hampshire Railway, Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, West Somerset Railway, Avon Valley Railway, Dean Forest Railway, Great Central Railway, and Bluebell Railway.

It was announced on 22 June 2007 that an emergency appeal would be started on 25 June to raise funds for the repair bill. The railway's insurers agreed to pay out £500,000 and Advantage West Midlands provided a grant of £750,000, whilst the European Regional Development Fund may also be able to grant aid up to £750,000 as funding towards the repairs. Of this £1.5m total, £250,000 is thought to be for development at Highley Station, with £1.25m available for the railway’s repair. The total cost of the damage has now been revised upwards to £2.5 million as a result of further damage and a massive potential slip in the Northwood Lane area following more rain and flooding in late July.[9]

These events damaged the summer tourist custom to the railway, the towns served, and the area as a whole. A spokesman announced on 22 June that the line was expected to reopen between Bewdley and Arley by the end of July and the section between Bridgnorth and Hampton Loade to be up and running by the end of August;[10] however it became apparent in early July 2007 that these reopenings would be delayed by as much as a month, later extended to up to three months. It was also said later that the crucial link between Hampton Loade and Arley, including Highley station and the new Engine House museum, may open as late as Spring 2008.[11] The current aim is to have the railway open fully by February 2008, although this is by no means certain.


With the exception of the two request halts (Country Park and Northwood) all intermediate stations have the ability to pass trains on the single line. However, Highley's passing loop has sidings leading off it with points not controlled from the signal box, meaning trains with the travelling public on may not use this loop. However, it is frequently used for works trains, demonstration goods trains and empty stock workings. Despite this, the Severn Valley Railway offers, possibly, the most intensive service on any single line heritage railway. A short section of multiple track exists between Bewdley South and Bewdley North signal boxes.

Kidderminster Town station is not an original station. It was created by the SVR based upon the original GWR station at Ross-on-Wye (1892).[12] Various projects have been carried out by volunteers and contractors to add to the general GWR ambience. Major projects include the port cochère to the front of the station, the ornamental crestings on the two towers and the canopy over the concourse which has just been completed, along with the finished east wing of the station.

The main locomotive works is located at Bridgnorth.[13][14] It is not normally open to the public because of health and safety regulations but conducted tours and open days are arranged from time to time. Major features of the locomotive works include the Boiler Shop equipped with overhead crane, Noble and Lunn wheel lathe and ex-LT lifting jacks.

There are plans to extend the main station building at Bridgnorth to provide new catering, shop and toilet facilities. This is a relatively difficult project due to the need to remain sympathetic to the Grade II listed original, being sufficiently unobtrusive and making the most of an extremely cramped site.

Although carriage repair and restoration is carried out at a number of locations on the railway, the main carriage works is located in the former goods shed at Kidderminster. This building, lying adjacent to the main national railway line, is known as the North Star Carriage Works thus perpetuating a typical GWR name. As well as having a machine shop and fabrication equipment to carry out a full range of body and bogie repairs the carriage works boasts equipment recovered from former BR works to calibrate and adjust dynamo voltage regulators and to thoroughly overhaul and test vacuum brake equipment, a facility that is almost extinct elsewhere. In common with the locomotive works it is not normally open to the public due to health and safety legislation.

The Railway in Television and Movies

The railway was used for the 1990s sitcom, Oh, Doctor Beeching!

Portions of the Severn Percent Solution were filmed on the SVR.

The railway has also feature in several television advertisements.

Former stations

Severn Valley Line - North of Bridgnorth
20px}}} Shrewsbury/ Welsh Marches Line
20px}}} Berrington
20px}}} Cound Halt
20px}}} Cressage
20px}}} Buildwas
20px}}} Ironbridge Power Station
20px}}} Wellington to Craven Arms Railway
20px}}} Ironbridge Level crossing
20px}}} Ironbridge and Broseley
20px}}} Jackfield Halt
20px}}} Coalport
20px}}} Linley
20px}}} Bridgnorth Tunnel
20px}}} Bridgnorth Modern day northern terminus
Severn Valley Railway
20px}}} Shrewsbury/ Welsh Marches Line
20px}}} Berrington
20px}}} Cound Halt
20px}}} Cressage
20px}}} Buildwas
20px}}} Ironbridge Power Station
20px}}} Wellington to Craven Arms Railway
20px}}} Ironbridge and Broseley
20px}}} Jackfield Halt
20px}}} Coalport
20px}}} Linley
20px}}} Bridgnorth Tunnel
20px}}} Former line north to Ironbridge, Shrewsbury
20px}}} Bridgnorth Northern terminus
20px}}} Eardington Halt
20px}}} Hampton Loade
20px}}} Country Park Halt
20px}}} Alveley Halt
20px}}} Highley
20px}}} Arley
20px}}} Victoria Bridge over River Severn
20px}}} Northwood Halt
20px}}} Former Tenbury & Bewdley Railway to Tenbury Wells
20px}}} Bewdley
20px}}} Former line to Stourport, Hartlebury
20px}}} Rifle Range Halt
20px}}} Bewdley Tunnel
20px}}} Foley Park Halt
20px}}} Connection to Birmingham to Worcester via Kidderminster Line
20px}}} Kidderminster Town

Former stations, most of which were closed with the Severn Valley line as a whole in 1963, after 101 years in use.

Between Hartlebury and Bewdley:

  • Stourport (1862 - 1970)
  • Burlish Halt, towards the north of Stourport at Burlish Crossing

Between Kidderminster and Bewdley:

  • Foley Park Halt (1905 - 1970)
  • Rifle Range Halt (1905 - 1920)

North of Bridgnorth:

Extensions to the railway

The plan to expand North had been mooted by groups within the SVR in the mid 1970s and more recently. The first plan was dismissed as impossible by the then board of the SVR however recent successes by others in obtaining large sums of money from the Heritage Lottery Fund & the European Regional Development Fund has caused this extreme view to moderate. Telford Steam Railway have recently announced aspirations to operate into the Severn Gorge, this has lead to a group to suggest extending the SVR northwards. The SVR have been offered first refusal by BRB(R) on the all-important tunnel under Bridgnorth as the first essential part of the plan. If the Telford Steam Railway was to expand and cross the river Severn via the Albert Edward Bridge and operate to the original site of Buildwas Junction, they would operate over a very short part of the former SVR. The possible closure of Ironbridge Power Station will further add to the debate because, this covers the site of Buildwas station. However, there are several obstacles to overcome, not least of which is that all of the land north of Bridgnorth Tunnel is in private ownership. The Holybush Road was widened and raised after closure, impedeing access to the southern portal. The current group promoting such an extension has identified a viable technical solution to this and other difficulties. Bridgnorth tunnel was relined in two separate places during operation and was a source of some trouble over the years yet a recent inspection by Network Rail has found it to be in general good order. Both portals are currently blocked off and the southern end has been encroached onto by the house located adjacent to the former bridge abutment. The northern suburbs of Bridgnorth low town block the trackbed around 100yards north of the tunnel, with 22 houses and a new road on the alignment itself yet the proponents heve identified solutions that would minimise disruption to the existing housing. The next section is covered by a low quality golf course that regularly suffers flooding in the winter. There are no sizable populations in the valley above Bridgnorth before Coalport. Beyond this point the area is presently geologically less stable than portions of the existing SVR damaged in the 2007 floods. This instability is in the course of being corrected with a circa £100M project co-ordinated by Telford & Wrekin District Council, repairs are intended to safeguard the World Heritage site. At present a road occupies the route of the railway formation for a distance at Jackfield as a result of the land instability. For all these reasons, reopening is not being actively pursued by the SVR itself, particularly since the effects of the 2007 floods damage will take time to recover from. The promoters recognise that investment for any extension will need to come from outside sources since the SVR feels any funds it has are required for improvements to existing visitor facilities in order to maintain the high service standards expected by todays visitors. A concern on both sides of this debate is it may prove to be devisive amongst the SVR's membership.

The former Tenbury Line trackbed is substantially intact as far as Newnham Bridge station before it is hemmed in by modern development. However several underbridges are missing, including the famous Dowles Viaduct, a span over the Bewdley to Bridnorth road and a brick span at Cleobury. Added to this are the same problems relating to land ownership, realingments of roads at former bridge sites and probable lack of custom at the Newnham bridge end.

Between Burlish and Stourport station, the alignment of the former Bewdley to Hartlebury section has been obliterated by housing and is lost forever. However, the trackbed is intact as a bridleway from Mitton (The eastern throat of the original station) to Hartlebury, with only a span over the A449 Worcester to Kidderminster main road missing. Almost all of the trackbed is in Council ownership and they have recently expressed an interest in reopening as a commuter line. The goal of this proposal is unclear. [17]

The Engine House

A museum, known as The Engine House, has been built on land adjacent to the station at Highley. This is to be used to provide undercover accommodation for locomotives whose boiler certificates have expired and to provide an education/interpretation centre. Although it was due to be open mid/late 2007 the planned opening date has been affected by the closure of the line past the Engine House until early 2008. The structure is complete and has been handed over by the contractors. However, rail connection depends on the completion of repairs at Highley Station and moving the exhibits from Bridgnorth and Kidderminster to Highley depends on the completion of other flood damage.

Rolling Stock

The railway can call on a large fleet to operate its services.[18] Only a small core of vehicles actually belong to the railway company, the remainder being owned by associated groups, such as the Great Western (Severn Valley Railway) Association,[19][20] and individuals. Locomotives and stock from the railway do not now often operate excursions on the National Rail network, but they have in the past been seen from Mallaig to Plymouth.


Steam Locomotives[21]

    • Manchester Ship Canal Hunslet 0-6-0T no.686 The Lady Armaghdale (running as "Thomas the Tank Engine")
    • Longmoor Military Railway 2-10-0 600 Gordon (in store until completion of the Engine House Display Centre; recently cosmetically restored)
    • Manning Wardle Contractors Locomotive 0-6-0ST no. 2047 Warwickshire (displayed outside Kidderminster Railway museum as a static exhibit until funds are raised for overhaul)
    • Port Talbot Railway 0-6-0ST no. 813 (in GWR livery) (currently visiting the Battlefield Line Railway)
    • GWR 0-6-0PT 15xx Class no. 1501 (in store until completion of the Engine House Display Centre)
    • GWR 2-8-0 28xx Class no. 2857 (boiler currently undergoing overhaul at Bridgnorth boiler shop)[22]
    • GWR 2-6-2T 5101 Class no. 4150 (undergoing overhaul)
    • GWR 2-6-2T 45xx Class no. 4566 (in service)
    • GWR 4-6-0 49xx "Hall" Class no. 4930 Hagley Hall (recently returned to the SVR for display in the Engine House having been on display at the McArthur Glen Designer Outlet in Swindon, Wiltshire)
    • GWR 2-6-2T 5101 Class no. 5164 (in service)
    • GWR 0-6-0PT 57xx Class no. 5764 (in service)
    • GWR 0-6-0PT 57xx Class no. 7714 (in service)
    • GWR 4-6-0 78xx "Manor" Class no. 7802 Bradley Manor (in service)
    • GWR 4-6-0 78xx "Manor" Class no. 7812 Erlestoke Manor (currently undergoing major overhaul: cab is together except its roof and the boiler is fitted in the frames, insulated with cladding being applied)
    • GWR 4-6-0 78xx "Manor" Class no. 7819 Hinton Manor (cosmetic restoration complete; this has been exchanged for Hagley Hall at Swindon)
    • GWR 2-6-0 43xx Class no. 9303 (recently returned from 'Steam' Museum, Swindon prior to display at the Engine House)
    • LMS 2-6-0 Class 5MT no. 42968 (in service)
    • LMS 2-6-0 Class 4MT no. 43106 (currently under going a major overhaul of chassis and boiler at Bridgnorth)
    • LMS 4-6-0 Class 5MT no. 45110 RAF Biggin Hill (nameplates currently removed; in service)
    • LMS 2-6-0 Class 2MT no. 46443 (in service)
    • LMS 0-6-0T LMS Fowler Class 3F "Jinty" no. 47383 (cosmetic restoration complete, ready for the Engine House Display Centre)
    • LMS 2-8-0 Class 8F no. 48773 (in service; will go in the Engine House for display in 2008 when its boiler ticket expires)
    • SR 4-6-2 West Country Class no. 34027 Taw Valley - this has also carried the names Ottery St Mary and Westward Ho (currently undergoing a major overhaul at Bridgnorth)
    • BR standard class 4 4-6-0 (Class 4MT) no. 75069 (due to begin overhaul in near future)
    • BR standard class 4 tank (2-6-4T Class 4MT) no. 80079 (in store until completion of the Engine House Display Centre)
    • BR standard class 3 tank replica (2-6-2T Class 3MT) no. 82045 (component parts beginning to be gathered. Frame plates and driving wheels at Eardington halt; other smaller components in store in Cheshire)

Diesel Locomotives

    • BR 0-6-0 Class 08 nos. D3022, D3201, D3586 and D3937 (in service)
    • BR 0-6-0 Class 11, no. 12099 (running agreement negotiated)
    • BR Bo-Bo Class 20 no. D8188 (in service)
    • BR Bo-Bo Class 20 no. 20227 (in service)
    • BR Bo-Bo Class 27 no. D5410 (awaiting restoration)
    • BR B-B Class 35 no. D7029 (undergoing restoration)
    • BR Co-Co Class 37 no. 37906 (recently returned to service after brief outage for replacement of stolen electronic control cards)
    • BR Bo-Bo Class 42 no. D821 Greyhound (currently being repaired)
    • BR Co-Co Class 50 no. 50049 Defiance (in service, mainline certified)
    • BR C-C Class 52 no. D1013 Western Ranger (in service)[23]
    • BR C-C Class 52 no. D1062 Western Courier (Under overhaul)[23]
    • BR Bo-Bo Class 73 no. E6005 (in service)
    • BR Bo-Bo Class 73 no. E6006 (in service)
    • BR Bo-Bo Class 73 no. 73101 'The Royal Alex' (in service)

All class 73's are owned by the DFDA (Dean Forest Diesel Asscation) based at Lydney Jcn on the Dean Forest Railway

Diesel Multiple Units


As an early entrant to the heritage railway movement the SVR was able to amass a collection of steam era carriages which, together with excellent covered accommodation and works facilities, are the envy of many latecomers.[24][25]

To complement its large collection of GWR coaches the SVR boasts the movement's largest collection of Period 3 LMS coaches and a full rake of LNER teak vehicles of the Gresley/Thompson era. Normally the carriages are made up as a BR (Carmine and Cream) set, a BR (Maroon) set, a full LNER set, an LMS set and two GWR sets, one of which makes up the restaurant train. The non-restaurant GWR set are usually only used on the intensive timetable and at special events. The LMS set is similarly rarely used, though slightly more than the GWR set.

The collection of operational carriages is constantly growing. Near future entrants to the fleet will include LMS RFO 7511 and LNER Kitchen Composite 7960. These two vehicles are nearing completion of restoration from near derelict condition.

Goods stock

The railway can also muster convincing demonstration goods trains as well as works trains from its wagon fleet, the restoration base being at Bewdley goods shed.[26]


  1. Saturday evening trains.
  2. Marshall, John (1989). The Severn Valley Railway. Newton Abbot: David St John Thomas. ISBN 0-946537-45-3. 
  3. Siviter, Roger (1995). Past and Present special: The Severn Valley Railway. Wadenhoe: Past & Present Publishing. ISBN 1-85895-080-5. 
  5. Jones, Robin (5 July–1 August 2007). "Preservation's Boscastle! – Severn Valley wrecked by freak £1m storm". Heritage Railway (100): 6-9. 
  6. Dunn, Pip (September 2007). "Severn Valley – the aftermath". Railways Illustrated 5 (9): 20-1. 
  9. Wilcock, David (10 August–6 September 2007). "New 'landslide in waiting' blow for Severn Valley". Steam Railway (339): 24-5. 
  10. SVR’s £500k cash plea. Express and Star. Retrieved on 2007-08-10.
  11. Severn Valley Railway. Flood Damage Appeal. Retrieved on 2007-08-10.
  12. Smith, D. J. (1987). "Kidderminster's extraordinary terminus". Railway Magazine 133: 227-9. 
  13. Ridgway, C. R. P. (1980). "The Severn Valley Railway - locomotive maintenance at Bridgnorth". Railway World 41: 77-83. 
  14. Hardingham, Roger (1982). "The Bridgnorth Locomotive Works". Trains Illustrated: Railway Preservation (44): 13-17. 
  15. Highley Station Site
  16. Quick, M. E. (2005). Railway Passenger Stations in England, Scotland and Wales: a chronology. Richmond, Surrey: Railway & Canal Historical Society. 
  17. Railway line 'would cut traffic'. BBC News. Retrieved on 2007-10-25.
  18. Williams, D. C.; McQuade, H. J. (1998). Severn Valley Railway Stock Book. Bewdley; Bridgnorth: Severn Valley Railway. 
  19. Great Western (SVR) Association.
  20. Haynes, Mike (Autumn 1998). "25 years later: the Great Western (SVR) Association celebrates 25 years". Severn Valley Railway News (128): 48-52. 
  21. Ferris, Tom (1995). Severn Valley Locomotives As They Were. Earl Shilton: Midland Publishing. ISBN 1-85780-030-3. 
  22. The 2857 Society.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Tompkins, Doug (1990). "Preservation 'Western'-style". Railway Magazine 136: 722-6. 
  24. Madgin, Hugh (April 1997). "Why carriages come first at the SVR". Steam Railway (204): 44-5. 
  25. Great Western (SVR) Association (1971). Guide book to Bewdley. Bewdley: GW(SVR)A. 
  26. Peplow, Steve (June 1990). "Fitted to the task!". Steam Railway (122): 65-7. 

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Severn Valley Railway

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