The Great Western Railway introduced Diesel Railcar units in the 1930s as a more economic replacement to steam traction on smaller branch lines. They were first used on the Severn Valley and Tenbury Branches in 1941 and continued in use until the 1960s. Railcar 22 is owned by the Great Western Society at Didcot but was resident on the SVRSevern Valley Railway in the 1960s and 1970s.
Railcar 22 in service
The first 18 diesel railcars built between 1934 and 1937 featured a streamlined shape which gave rise to the nickname "flying banana". Railcar 22 was one of the next batch of 18 built at the GWRGreat Western Railway’s Swindon works between 1940 and 1942; these featured a more angular design sometimes described as "razor edged". Railcars in this batch were equipped with 2 AEC diesel engines of 105 hp each and fitted with standard buffers and drawgear to which could be coupled a 60 ton tail load, allowing the railcar to tow a coach or act as the local pick-up goods train at off-peak times. The railcar could carry 48 passengers and included a large luggage department.Railcar 22 entered service from Newport shed on 18 September 1940. On 30 July 1941, 22 and sister number 23 were noted in the Kidderminster area, believed to be on test runs for the introduction of railcar services on the Severn Valley and Tenbury Branches which began that year. Thereafter Railcar 22 was based in the Bristol area and between 1950 and 1954, in the Reading area where it had been paired with Car 38 after sister Car 35 was destroyed by fire. For the next few years 22 was based at Leamington, before a move to Worcester in 1958 from where it regularly worked services on the Severn Valley Branch as far as Shrewsbury and also on the Tenbury Branch. For much of its BRBritish Rail or British Railways life 22 was painted in maroon and cream, but in August 1958 it was repainted in BRBritish Rail or British Railways mid-green. Following the introduction of more modern BRBritish Rail or British Railways single diesel units, 22 was reduced to standby status in 1961, and finally withdrawn in October 1962.
Railcar 22 in preservation
Following withdrawal, 22 was stored at Swindon until being bought by the Midland Group of the Great Western Society in 1967. The Railcar arrived on loan to the SVRSevern Valley Railway on 13th May 1967. Restoration took place at both Bridgnorth and Bewdley until 1968. Railcar 22 was used during the opening weekend of service in May 1970 and from June 1970 until August 1971 was used on the Saturday shoppers’ service to Hampton Loade.
Other GWRGreat Western Railway Railcars on the Severn Valley Railway
Other GWRGreat Western Railway railcars were also used in service on the Severn Valley and Tenbury branches. In the early 1940s these included streamlined railcars numbers 5, 6 and 7. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 43 includes a picture of a burned out railcar in the up sidings at Bridgnorth following a serious fire. The caption identifies this as W7W in August 1956, although it is probably W10W which was destroyed in a fire at Bridgnorth on 9 March 1956.
Apart from Railcar 22, later examples known to have worked in the area in the 1940s include 14, 26, 27, 28, 29 30 and 32. Railcar W20W is seen in this picture at Tenbury Wells in 1959.
See alsoThe Severn Valley Railway under GWR/BR ownership
Vehicles used on the Severn Valley Branch in commercial service
Wikipedia article Retrieved 22 Jan 2015
Past editions of SVRSevern Valley Railway News.
- SVRSevern Valley Railway Stock Book 5th edition
- Didcot Railway Centre Railcar 22 Page
- Turley (2005) P. 41.
- A G Cleaver, "The Early Days Of The 'Severn Valley'", SVRSevern Valley Railway News 190 (2015) p24.
- Great Western Archive