The Engine House

From SVR Wiki
(Redirected from Engine House)
Jump to: navigation, search
The view of the Engine House as a Bridgnorth bound train approaches Highley
View of The Engine House from Highley Station (Wikimedia Commons)

The Engine House at Highley opened in 2008 and is the SVRSevern Valley Railway's main museum, Visitor and Education Centre. It is situated approximately 200 yards from Highley Station on the site of the former sidings of Highley Colliery. The other major museum on the railway, Kidderminster Railway Museum, is run by an independent charitable organisation.

Entry to the Engine House is usually free with possession of a valid ‘Freedom of the line’ ticket or Loyalty Pass; otherwise an admission fee is payable.

The Engine House is also home to the SVR Archives.


Before the opening of the Engine House, BR 80300 Post Office Sorting Van was located at Highley and used as the visitor centre. The Engine House was originally conceived as a simple storage building to house "out-of-ticket" engines under cover in order to reduce the damage done by the weather. However for various reasons, including attracting external funding, the project morphed into the visitor museum and education centre that stands today, whilst still achieving the original aim of storing locomotives. Funding received towards its construction included £3,363k from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £948k from the European Union Regional Development Fund and £200k from Advantage West Midlands.[1]

The "modern" architectural design of the building has attracted polarised comments. Peter Lyons, a Senior Partner at International Architects Peter Hing & Jones of Birmingham was involved. His original proposal was for a traditional engine shed but with the ground unable to support this his re-design involving a contemporary building using lighter material.[2] Prior to construction, the SVRSevern Valley Railway noted that The Engine House will be of modern design, and will use modern materials in its construction. The reasons for this decision are many, but cost was a particular factor as was the stability of the ground on the Landsale Yard site. Geological factors and old mine and quarry workings are all factors here. The ground, the Engineers tell us, is 'challenging' to say the least.[1]

The main contractor for construction was George Law & Co. Ltd[3], the company who also built Bridgnorth Cliff Railway in the 1890s.[4] Construction of The Engine House began in 2006. The hillside behind the building was graded and stabilised using soil nailing, parts of the old mine workings underneath were grouted, and a large retaining wall was built. More soil nailing was carried out in front of the building to ensure no lateral pressure would be placed on the railway embankment. For the building itself, some 120 piles up to 15 metres deep were sunk and tied together by beams cast in reinforced concrete.[4]

The Engine House was scheduled to open in the summer of 2007. However Highley was one of the locations which suffered significant damage in the freak storms in June and July of that year. As a result, opening to the public was delayed until Good Friday, 21 March 2008; the day which also saw the resumption of services over the full length of the line.

An opening ceremony was held on 28 April 2009 with visiting BRBritish Rail or British Railways RiddlesRobert Arthur "Robin" Riddles, Member of the Railway Executive for Mechanical and Electrical Engineering responsible for the design of the British Rail Standard Class locomotives Standard 8PThe British Railways system of classifying steam locomotives by power using a number from 0, least powerful, to 9, most powerful, followed by either F for freight, P for Passenger or MT for Mixed Traffic. class PacificLocomotive with a 4-6-2 wheel configuration 71000 'Duke of Gloucester' hauling a special train from Kidderminster, carrying guests for the ceremony.[5] However the SVRSevern Valley Railway’s patron H.R.H. The Duke of Gloucester was unable to attend due to illness, so The Lord Lieutenant of Shropshire carried out the official duties in his place. The Duke finally visited the Engine House on 21 October 2009, when he also carried out the opening ceremony for the new Highley footbridge.

There were over 120,000 visitors to the Engine House during the first 2 years of opening[6]. Since that time it has hosted numerous special events. On 17 September 2015 H.R.H. The Duke of Gloucester made another visit as part of the SVRSevern Valley Railway's Fiftieth Anniversary celebrations.

HLFHeritage Lottery Fund (National Lottery Heritage Fund from 2019) Legal Charge

On 26 February 2016 the The Trustees of the National Heritage Memorial Fund (HLFHeritage Lottery Fund (National Lottery Heritage Fund from 2019)) took a legal charge code 0104 6274 0017 over the Engine House.[7]

Items on display

As of 2022, steam locomotives on display while awaiting overhaul are:

Carriages and goods wagons on display include:

Locomotives formerly on display

Original owner Wheel Arrangement Class or type Number Name Built Owner Date entered Date left Notes
BRBritish Rail or British Railways 0-6-0PT 1500 1501 1949 1501 Pannier Tank Association March 2008 March 2009
GWRGreat Western Railway 0-6-0PT 5700 Class Pannier 7714 1930 SVR Pannier Tank Fund April 2012
GWRGreat Western Railway 4-6-0 4900 Class Hall 4930 Hagley Hall 1929 SVR(H) March 2008 October 2013
GWRGreat Western Railway 2-6-0 4300 Class MogulLocomotive with a 2-6-0 wheel configuration 7325 1932 Great Western (SVR) Association March 2008 March 2019 The 'footplate' was accessible to allow visitors to climb aboard and learn how to operate a steam locomotive, and for weddings and civil ceremonies.
LMSLondon Midland & Scottish Railway 4-6-0 5MTThe British Railways system of classifying steam locomotives by power using a number from 0, least powerful, to 9, most powerful, followed by either F for freight, P for Passenger or MT for Mixed Traffic. Black Five 45110 1932 SVR(H) October 2013 August 2018
Manchester Ship Canal Railway 0-6-0T Hunslet 'Chest' class 686 The Lady Armaghdale 1898 Warwickshire Industrial Locomotive Preservation Group October 2009 June 2021 Moved to 'temporary storage' in Kidderminster Carriage Shed, not returned as of 2022.
Corris Railway 0-4-2ST 3 Sir Haydn 1878 Talyllyn Railway 2013 2014 2 ft 3 in gauge. ‘Sir Haydn’ travelled the line as part of the freight workings at the 2013 Autumn Steam Gala and would later spend the winter on display in The Engine House.
Festiniog Railway 0-4-0ST+T 2 Prince 1863 Ffestiniog Railway 2010 2012 1 ft 11½ in gauge.
MRMidland Railway 4-4-0 JohnsonSamuel Waite Johnson, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Midland Railway 1873-1903 4PThe British Railways system of classifying steam locomotives by power using a number from 0, least powerful, to 9, most powerful, followed by either F for freight, P for Passenger or MT for Mixed Traffic. Midland Compound 1000 1902 NRM 2007 2011 On loan from the NRMThe Railway Museum, formerly the National Railway Museum for display in the Engine House.
RHDRRomney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway 4-6-2 Greenly PacificLocomotive with a 4-6-2 wheel configuration 7 Typhoon 1927 Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway 2019 4 April 2022 15 in gauge. On loan from the RHDRRomney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway for display in the Engine House.

Other rolling stock formerly on display

Railway Royal Engineers' Roll of Honour

Locomotive LMS Stanier 8F 48773 is dedicated as a Memorial to those military railwaymen of the Corps of Royal Engineers (Transportation) who lost their lives in World War II. In 2002 the Stanier 8F Locomotive Society compiled a Roll of Honour and Books of Remembrance commemorating known casualties. Since 2008 it has been on display with the Roll of Honour at the Engine House and an additional Roll of Honour was unveiled by Brigadier Mike Stephens at a ceremony at the Engine House in 2011, together with a Roll of Honour commemorating the six Railway Sappers killed in an accident on the Longmoor Military Railway in 1956. Over 200 ex-servicemen, family members and visitors were present. Visitors can see the Rolls of Honour and information panels describing the history of the Railway Royal Engineers alongside the locomotive.[9].

"Helping hands for Falling Sands" donation wall

A donation was unveiled in August 2019 by the Charitable Trust acknowledging contributions to the "Helping hands for Falling Sands" appeal in aid of the restoration of Falling Sands Viaduct. The Trust's appeal had secured £397,000 in donations from individuals, community organisations, businesses, trusts and foundations[10].

Current exhibitions

As of 2022 current exhibitions are:

  • 'Severn Valley Railway – Journey Through Time' (2019-) – A timeline of the Severn Valley and its railway from 1760 to the present day, funded and created by the Charitable Trust.
  • 'L95, A Locomotive History from London to the Severn Valley Railway' (2019) - a display of pictures and documents relating to L95 in London Underground service and preservation on the SVRSevern Valley Railway.
  • 'Hagley Hall, The SVRSevern Valley Railway's Flagship Locomotive (2020- ) a small display of pictures and information relating to GWR 4930 Hagley Hall.
  • 'From Railways to Royalty' - photographic exhibition by Jack Boskett (2022)

A small area on the ground floor recreates the interior of the Coopers Arms where the Severn Valley Railway Society was formed in 1965. A short video gives a history of that era. There are numerous other exhibits, video features and interactive items.

Former exhibitions

Poster for '2007 Storm Damage – 10 Years on' Exhibition
  • Terence Cuneo - The Man and His Mouse (2016) showcasing the work of the famous railway artist.
  • Severn Valley Railway - Our first 50 years (2015-16) celebrating in words and pictures 50 years of the Severn Valley Railway.
  • The Art of the Railway Poster (2017) – telling the story of how the ‘big four’ railway companies looked for ways of promoting travel by train to the general public, showcasing original posters of the era.
  • Signs of the Times (2017) - a display of London Underground and Great Western Railway signs, courtesy of London Transport Museum and Kidderminster Railway Museum.
  • 2007 Storm Damage – 10 Years on (2017-2018) – a look back at the damage inflicted by a freak weather event in the summer of 2007.
  • Exhibition of work by renowned railway artist, John Austin (2018)
  • An exhibition on LMS Stanier Class 5 45110 and the end of steam on British Railways (2018)
  • 'Bewdley Ducks' – an exhibition of work by local artist Nick Ashby (2019)
  • Peter’s Railway Young Engineers’ Centre (2014-c.2020) - An exhibition that explains about railway engineering and how a steam locomotive works, for "any young steam fans and budding engineers." It is based on the Peter’s Railway series of children's books written by Christopher Vine, a Chartered Engineer, about Peter and his Grandpa building and operating a miniature steam railway on a farm.[11]
  • Falling Sands Viaduct exhibition (2020-2021), part of The National Lottery Heritage Fund award for its repair.
  • Exhibition of railway and aircraft photographs by Scott Lee (2020-2021, some photographs remain on display in the ground floor cafeteria area in 2022)


The Engine House is licensed for civil marriage and civil partnership ceremonies which can be conducted in a variety of railway themed locations.

Other events held at The Engine House include:

  • Children's 'Family Fun' events are held during half-terms and school holidays.
  • Open House Weekend
  • 'Peppa Pig and George'
  • 'Paw Patrol'
  • Christmas Gift Fayre
  • Christmas Carol Trains
  • Christmas carvery

Manchester Model Tramway

The Manchester Model Tramway Group operates a 1949-built fully-operating miniature tramway layout. It was the brainchild of George Oakley, who had a keen interest in both the Manchester and Llandudno & Colwyn Bay tramway systems.

It has been displayed at The Engine House most years since at least 2014, either in the February half-term service or Open House Weekend[12].



Until 2012 ‘Buffers’ restaurant offered a table service. In 2012 a refurbishment took place with the creation of a self-service 'The Flag & Whistle Food Stop'.[13]. In addition there is a gift shop and an outdoor children's play area. The restaurant balcony and outdoor picnic areas overlook the line and give good views of trains leaving and arriving at Highley. During 2021 the buffet was temporarily moved to the ground floor in the former gift shop area.

Commemorative Garden

In October 2017 the Charitable Trust announced it was establishing an In Memory Garden for SVRSevern Valley Railway supporters, close to the Engine House. The area is directly beneath the gallery, on level ground below the retaining slope. Its design has been generously donated by Arup’s landscape architecture team. It will also feature an indoor commemorative area on the balcony inside The Engine House. This will be a screened-off area, with scrolls of honour and a memory book.[14] Initial work involved fencing off the area and creating a set of access steps, before landscaping and designing the garden layout and planting scheme.[15]. By July 2018 vegetation clearance was underway.

Anderson shelter

In 2018 the Postcode Lottery awarded a grant for the construction of a shelter to enhance the facilities for children to learn about air raids and experience.


See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 SVRSevern Valley Railway News 152
  2. Moreton, BarryWoodham Brothers Scrapyard, Barry, South Wales. The source of many locomotives now in preservation., Peter Lyons' obituary NBINotice Board Issue. The SVR's on-line method of circulating information to working members., December 2022
  3. Highley Engine House case study on George Law's web site
  4. 4.0 4.1 SVRSevern Valley Railway News 154
  5. Sharpo's World image
  6. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 168
  7. Companies House, Legal Charge
  8. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 205, p.40
  9. War Memorials online (Retrieved 22 April 2018)
  10. Charitable Trust 'Falling Sands' page (retrieved 20 August 2019)
  11. Peter's Railway website (retrieved 7 January 2017)
  12. SVR Forum
  13. SVRLive
  14. 'Platform' magazine, 2018 Issue 4, p.16
  15. Memorial Garden - Landscaping garden design expertise needed, SVRLive, 16 October 2017 (Retrieved 14 July 2018


The Engine House on