Following the successful installation of ex-Fort William turntable at Kidderminster in the mid-1990s, SVRSevern Valley Railway News for spring 1997 announced a project to install a second turntable at Bridgnorth. The first turntable purchased by the SVRSevern Valley Railway ex-Whitchurch in the 1970s had been intended for his purpose, but this would have been propelled by hand and was only 60ft in length. The decision was therefore taken to seek a more suitable turntable. The Turntable Fund began raising funds for the "Bridgnorth Turntable Fund". The difficulty of finding a suitable location at Bridgnorth was noted at the time, possible sites considered including the end of the head-shunt adjacent to Pan Pudding Hill, an area beyond and adjacent to the Boiler Shop, or south of the station beyond the advanced starting signal.
The turntable eventually acquired by the Turntable Fund is a Ransom Rapier 65'3" standard-pattern over-girder turntable, electrically powered. It was originally installed in 1957 as one of two turntables at Bristol (Bath Road) depot. Following the end of steam in 1960 the depot retained one turntable which was later used to turn road vehicles on the cramped site. At least one SVRSevern Valley Railway locomotive also used the turntable after that time, 46443 having been photographed being turned in June 1985 during the ‘GW 150’ events in the Bristol area.
The Bath Road depot closed in 1995. In late 1997 the turntable was placed in the hands of auctioneers for sale by private treaty. It was inspected by the SVRSevern Valley Railway and found to be in excellent condition, while site access would allow its removal by road. An offer was made to the auctioneers in October 1997 and the bid was accepted in February 1998, aided by a successful SVRA (Kidderminster Branch) raffle and fund-raising campaign.
Removal and storage
The turntable was stripped down by a team from Bridgnorth, with help from members of the SVRSevern Valley Railway’s Bristol Branch, during the last week of March 1998. It was lifted by a 160 ton crane on 2 April 1998 and transported overnight by road to Eardington, where it was placed in storage awaiting installation at Bridgnorth.
This film shows the turntable's removal from Bristol and transport to Eardington.
Another report in SVRSevern Valley Railway News for spring 1999 noted that the next phase of the project would require further fundraising. Several sites were still being studied, "none of which would be simple or cheap".
Since that time the turntable has remained in store at Eardington in the station yard. The now-defunct SVRSevern Valley Railway South Eastern Branch had in the past conducted some maintenance to prevent further deterioration. In Summer 2018 the Fund, assisted by the Friends of Eardington Station, cleared away the undergrowth and painted the main deck of the turntable: it was noted some smaller components have disappeared. The turntable is still owned by the Turntable Fund.
Planned relocation to Bridgnorth
In November 2016 the SVRSevern Valley Railway published a prospectus for a £2.5m share issue to raise funds for the Bridgnorth Development Project. The turntable is planned to be installed as part of Phase 2 of the Project. The share issue was successful; in addition by November 2017 The Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust Ltd had raised about £18,000 as restricted gifts for restoring the turntable.
Access and future use
The originally proposed location for the turntable is shown in the plan below. Part of the site formed the exit road from the overflow car park. Phase 2 of the Bridgnorth Development Project included additional car parking with a re-routed exit road, completed in December 2018. Planned access by locomotives would require two reversals, speculating that its future use was unlikely to involve regular turning of locomotives between trains during normal service.
By Summer 2018 the SVRSevern Valley Railway was looking at "possibly more practical locations". with test bores have been carried out to assess the suitability of a site adjacent to the loco shed at Bridgnorth. A project team for the specification of the West side Project was intended to tender for this phase during the summer of 2018. A revision in its location however meant that this element of the plan was required to be resubmitted to the planning department of Shropshire Council. The revised planning application was published by Shropshire Council Planning on 12 March 2019. Field slopes would include reinforced earth techniques, works will also entail slight relocation of some of the retaining walls around Hanbury Cottage. These will be constructed in reinforced concrete, but clad from reclaimed bricks taken from the existing retaining wall. The water column will also be relocated as part of the works to facilitate the operation of the railway. Approval of the revised planning application was granted on 30 April 2019.
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 122, “Bridgnorth Turntable Project” (John Giles)
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 56
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 126
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 129
- SVRSevern Valley Railway Express Points June 2018
- GM's announcement on SVRLive, 25 September 2018
- 'Bridgnorth Project - another way to give your support', SVRLive, 28 November 2017
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 202 Summer 2018, p. 15
- SVRSevern Valley Railway NBINotice Board Issue. The SVR's on-line method of circulating information to working members. 16 March 2018
- NBINotice Board Issue. The SVR's on-line method of circulating information to working members. published on SVRSevern Valley Railway Forum, September 2018.
- Shrposhire Star, 5 April 2019 (retrieved 6 April 2019)
- Shropshire Planning Ref:19/01151/FUL