Severn Valley Railway Timeline 1980-1989
Significant events in the history of the Severn Valley Railway in preservation between 1980 and 1989 are set out below.
Over the winter of 1979-80, major engineering work was carried out on Victoria Bridge, including replacement of the bridge decking and a complete repaint. Significant remedial work was also carried out at Folly Point to address land slippage. 1980 again saw BRBritish Rail or British Railways providing a DMUDiesel Multiple Unit service from Kidderminster to the SVR at Bewdley on summer Saturdays and Bank Holidays.
On Saturday 17 May, LMSLondon Midland & Scottish Railway Princess Royal Class 6201 Princess Elizabeth started line side fires in the Ruabon area. Following the imposition of a steam ban, a diesel-hauled convoy of SVRSevern Valley Railway locomotives and rolling stock departed for Rainhill on Monday 19 May. The SVRSevern Valley Railway participants in the grand parade at the Rocket 150 celebrations at Rainhill on 24-26 May were 3205, 43106, 45000, 600 Gordon, 80079, D1062 Western Courier plus 3 coaches, GWR 829 Full Third, GWR 6913 Brake Composite, and LMS Brake Third Corridor 26921. 3020 Cornwall was also due to take part, but was forced to withdraw when the BRBritish Rail or British Railways boiler inspector put his hammer right through the front ring of the boiler barrel! (All pictures from Wikimedia Commons, the free media repository)
The Railway played host to two incoming main line rail tours through to Bridgnorth on the same day. The Bridgnorth station announcer took the opportunity to make an announcement surely never heard before or since, “The next service will call at Bewdley, Basingstoke, Winchester, Eastleigh and Southampton. Change at Bewdley for Leeds, Keighley, Haworth and Oxenhope.” The two 10-coach tours passed at Arley, the only loop large enough to handle the crossing.
- The SVRSevern Valley Railway membership exceeded 10,000 for the first time.
- The Great Western Weekend saw 7 of the SVRSevern Valley Railway’s GWRGreat Western Railway engines in action.
- The RustonRuston and Hornsby Ltd. of Lincoln, engineer and locomotive manufacturer acquired by English Electric in 1966. Also, Ruston-Bucyrus Ltd established in 1930 and jointly owned by Ruston and Hornsby and Bucyrus-Erie (US)-Bucyrus coaling crane at Bridgnorth MPD was replaced by the first of the SambronSambron SA, a French manufacturer of telehandler-type forklifts used by the SVR for coaling telehandlers.
- In the annual Enthusiasts Weekend, considered the most successful to date, 12 SVRSevern Valley Railway locomotives were in steam including 45690 Leander which had just returned from main line duties for an overhaul.
Locomotives used during the year and the mileages recorded were as follows:
|4930 Hagley Hall||4,225||4,870|
|7819 Hinton Manor||3,775||15,825|
|43106||3,420||17,617||Return from overhaul.|
|6960 Raveningham Hall||2,300||9,110|
|46521||1,470||12,775||Return from overhaul.|
|7812 Erlestoke Manor||1,300||1,765|
|45690 Leander||495||495||Entry into service following arrival.|
|WD 193 Shropshire||435||9,895|
In 1981, Eardington was reinstated as a request stop in the timetable. BRBritish Rail or British Railways again ran a limited DMUDiesel Multiple Unit shuttle service between Kidderminster and the SVR at Bewdley. The SVRSevern Valley Railway continued to provide locomotives to work on main line rail tours from Hereford and elsewhere.
- 4930 and 45000 departed for Hereford on main line duties, accompanied by WD 193 which left on loan to the 6000 LA group based there. The 4-6-0s would return in April; 193’s loan would be extended.
- The first public main line excursion from Bridgnorth ran on 14 March. The 11-coach ‘Severn Valley Crusader’ to Paddington was hauled to Bewdley by 7819 and 46521, where two BRBritish Rail or British Railways class 25s took over.
- The newly installed ex-Whitchurch water tower at Highley was used for the first time.
- Enthusiasts Weekend was scheduled to include 10 SVRSevern Valley Railway locomotives in steam (SVRSevern Valley Railway News does not confirm the final number).
- WD 193’s loan to Hereford was extended, while 45690 Leander left following completion of the overhaul begun the previous year. 3020 Cornwall was to return to the NRM until funds could be found for its overhaul.
- The Santa Special services struggled thorough in the worst winter weather seen in 31 years, with snow and daytime temperatures of -25°C hampering operations.
- Filming for an episode of ITV’s Game for a Laugh took place, involving musician and entertainer Joe Brown firing 80079, repeating a job he previously did for BRBritish Rail or British Railways while a fireman at Plaistow.
Locomotives used during the year and the mileages recorded (including mileage on BRBritish Rail or British Railways while SVRSevern Valley Railway-based) were as follows:
|4930 Hagley Hall||4,746||9,616|
|7819 Hinton Manor||2,539||18,364|
|6960 Raveningham Hall||2,382||11,492|
|WD 193 Shropshire||160||10,055|
|686 The Lady Armaghdale||10||494||Return from overhaul.|
By May 1982 traffic from the BSCBritish Steel Corporation, or British Sugar Corporation factory at Foley Park had ceased, and the Directors of the SVRSevern Valley Railway were ‘keeping a close watch’ on the situation. The BSCBritish Steel Corporation, or British Sugar Corporation sidings closed officially in October.
June 1982: GWRGreat Western Railway 7000 Class 7029 'Clun Castle' visited the railway for two weeks, appearing on the Sunday of the Great Western Weekend (20 June) and the following Saturday 26 June.
September 1982: 3020 Cornwall returned to York. The cost of repairs to the boiler, which had been condemned in May 1980, were deemed too expensive by the SVRSevern Valley Railway and the Department of Education and Science.
November 1982: The line was severed south of Bridgnorth as construction of the Bridgnorth Bypass began, involving construction of the new Bridgnorth Bypass Bridge. Work would continue throughout that winter.
December 1982: The Santa Special services saw more than 20,000 passengers for the first time.
Locomotives used and mileages recorded were as follows:
|7812 Erlestoke Manor||5,825||7,590||Return from overhaul.|
|4930 Hagley Hall||5,577||15,193|
|WD 193 Shropshire||100||10,155|
|686 The Lady Armaghdale||80||574|
|47383||30||9,780||Return from overhaul.|
|Other not in service / left||-||116,983|
January 1983: 257 Railway Squadron took over the SVRSevern Valley Railway for 3 days and staged simulated warfare between Bewdley and Highley, much to the surprise of local residents.
- Bridgnorth by-pass was completed on time and within budget. The line re-opened on 5 March 1983, with 80079 hauling the first passengers across the new bridge.
- SRSouthern Railway 30777 'Sir Lamiel' arrived for a one month visit to the SVRSevern Valley Railway.
April 1983: On Saturday 30 April, less than 2 months after re-opening, Bridgnorth was again isolated. A major collapse of the embankment occurred just south of the new bridge, closing the line and the riverside road to Highley below it.
- BRBritish Rail or British Railways Standard Class 9 92220 'Evening Star' arrived for a two week visit. Fortunately Sir Lamiel was south of the embankment collapse at the time, so both visitors were able to work between Bewdley and Hampton Loade during their stay. The collapse also affected the Western Locomotive Association’s Spring Diesel Weekend. It was the third time in five years this had happened, following previous collapses at Sterns and Folly Point.
- Work took place 14 hours per day 7 days per week to repair the line. Shropshire County Council deployed their direct labour force on a ‘without prejudice’ basis and worked jointly with the SVRSevern Valley Railway to reopen the line on Wednesday 18 May. 92220 Evening Star had the dubious honour of hauling the first service over the repaired embankment.
- Kidderminster Goods Depot was formally closed by BRBritish Rail or British Railways on 16 May, and negotiations began in earnest with BRBritish Rail or British Railways on leasing an area of land in the freight yard to establish the SVRSevern Valley Railway’s proposed new station.
- The SVR launched a share offer to raise money for the new station. The initial target was £300,000 with a minimum of £90,000 by the end of February 1984. (£230,000 was achieved by the deadline, the total exceeded £370,000).
- The Board announced a number of changes to the locomotive fleet. 45690 Leander had been acquired from ‘Leander Locomotive Limited’ (LLL). The purchase also included unrestored sister 45699 Galatea, then at Carnforth, which could be restored or used as a source of spares for Leander. To finance the deal, the Ivatt Class 2 46443 had been sold to LLL and would move to Loughborough in June/July 1984. Finally WD 193, which had been on loan to Hereford since January 1981, was in the process of being sold.
Locomotives used and mileages recorded were as follows:
|7812 Erlestoke Manor||5,486||13,076|
|4930 Hagley Hall||3,445||18,638|
|686 The Lady Armaghdale||205||779|
|6960 Raveningham Hall||115||11,607||Return from overhaul.|
|Other not in service / left||-||129,471|
In 1984 the SVRSevern Valley Railway finally reached Kidderminster. Please see The development of Kidderminster Town Station for a full account of events leading up to the opening day, the opening day itself and continued development of the station thereafter.
Around this time, SVRSevern Valley Railway news refers to a target of maintaining a working fleet of 15 locomotives. This gives an indication of the commitment to main line working at the time; in 2014 summertime services used only 8 steam locomotives.
- The share offer to raise money for Kidderminster Town reached £230,000, well in excess of the preliminary target of £90,000. Exchange of contracts with British Rail had taken place to purchase the line from Foley Park to Kidderminster and lease an area of the Goods Yard on Comberton Hill.
- 45690 Leander, by now an SVRSevern Valley Railway locomotive, was working the Welsh Marches Express.
Early Summer 1984: SVRSevern Valley Railway news confirmed that 46443’s new owners would not be moving the locomotive to the GCRGreat Central Railway at Loughborough. SVRSevern Valley Railway members had launched a fund to buy back the locomotive which was now ‘on the market’.
- 3717 City Of Truro arrived from the Swindon Museum on 14 July. The locomotive was to be restored by the SVRSevern Valley Railway with a view to being used on the main line in the 1985 GWRGreat Western Railway 150 celebrations.
- Kidderminster Station was opened on 31 July 1984. Trains ran over the full 16 miles from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster for the first time in the preservation era.
September 1984: 5051 Drysllwyn Castle (later renamed Earl Bathurst) visited from Didcot and took part in the Enthusiasts Weekend. 45690 Leander visited Didcot in exchange. At the same time two of the SVRSevern Valley Railway’s smaller engines were steamed for the first time in some years; GWR 813 had not steamed since a brief test in 1975 while Peckett 1738 had not steamed since 1970.
October 1984: The SVRSevern Valley Railway Board rejected a proposal from a local group to re-erect the former Exeter West Signal Box on the SVRSevern Valley Railway, despite fund raising having taken place on the Railway for several years. The signal box was eventually re-erected at the Crewe Heritage Centre.
December 1984: The first Santa Special services from Kidderminster involved 34,628 passengers. Turnover for the year passed £1 million for the first time, helped by the Kidderminster opening.
Locomotives used during the year and related mileages were:
|6960 Raveningham Hall||7,261||18,868|
|4930 Hagley Hall||3,244||21,882|
|7812 Erlestoke Manor||2,834||15,910|
|75069||726||726||Entry into service following restoration|
|46443||341||29,351||Return from overhaul|
|686 The Lady Armaghdale||130||909|
|813||10||15||Return from overhaul|
|1738||10||12||Return from overhaul|
|Other not in service / left||-||100,154|
1985 celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Great Western Railway. A number of ‘GWRGreat Western Railway 150’ events were held around the country, many involving SVRSevern Valley Railway locomotives, although a planned exhibition at Swindon was cancelled after British Rail Engineering Ltd (BREL) insensitively announced the closure of the Swindon Works in the anniversary year. 1985 was also the year of the infamous ‘April Fool’.
March 1985: When Hagley Hall failed at Kidderminster on 9 March, D3022 stepped in to haul the 14.50 service to Bridgnorth. This was reported to be the first use of a preserved 08 class diesel on a passenger service on the SVRSevern Valley Railway.
- 3717 City of Truro was lent by the NRMThe Railway Museum, formerly the National Railway Museum to the SVRSevern Valley Railway in 1984 to be overhauled for use in GWRGreat Western Railway 150. On 1 April 1985 (a clue), Steam Railway published an article stating that the 'City of Truro' was to be restored in BRBritish Rail or British Railways lined black livery complete with smokebox number plate. A photograph of the locomotive in this totally unauthentic livery appeared with the article, which went on to say that SVRSevern Valley Railway Loco Superintendent Nula Seer was responsible. In fact just before strip-down began, the SVRSevern Valley Railway had painted and lined out one side of the locomotive to provide the photograph (this pre-dated digital manipulation of pictures), and Nula Seer was really Alun Rees. The joke did not go down well in some quarters; the SVRSevern Valley Railway received many vitriolic letters threatening returned membership cards, cashed-in shares and a boycott on visits.
- 7819 Hinton Manor worked the first day of a 2-day railtour from Bristol The Great Western Limited double-headed with 6000 King George V. The King failed at Taunton with a ‘hot box’. 7819 suffered a similar fate at Exeter but was later able to proceed to Plymouth to be repaired overnight. 4930 Hagley Hall worked light engine overnight from Kidderminster to Plymouth, and the two SVRSevern Valley Railway engines hauled the return to Bristol over the Devon Banks the following day.
May 1985: GWR 813 visited Didcot as part of the GWRGreat Western Railway 150 events, travelling 70 miles in the sidings there.
- The water column at Kidderminster was commissioned. Previously locomotives at the south end of the line could only take water at Bewdley.
- Kidderminster was added to BRBritish Rail or British Railways’s list of authorised steam routes. The first railtour involving a steam departure from Kidderminster was the ‘Western Stalwart’ on 6 July 1985, hauled by 4930 Hagley Hall and Tyseley’s 7029 Clun Castle.
- 34027 Taw Valley, then owned by Bert Hitchen, arrived on the SVRSevern Valley Railway on 18 August 1985 for restoration to main line running order.
- 2857 was steamed successfully for the first time since 1980, and later hauled a rake of the SVRSevern Valley Railway preserved wagons to Newport and back over BRBritish Rail or British Railways metals as part of the GW 150 celebrations.
September 1985: Phase 2 of the new Kidderminster Station building was opened on 28 September, just in time for the annual Enthusiasts Weekend which saw a visit from 7029 Clun Castle and newly overhauled 3717 also working.
Details of locomotives used during 1985 were published at the end of 1989 and are set out in a table (below).
Spring 1986: Bridgnorth District Council issued a Notice ordering the SVRSevern Valley Railway to stop riveting boilers in the open air, the SVRSevern Valley Railway not having a boiler shop at that time. A Crown Court Hearing would later overturn the Notice.
June 1986: Two Didcot locomotives visited for four weeks including the summer gala. 6998 Burton Agnes Hall, a HawksworthFrederick Hawksworth, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Great Western Railway 1941-1948 6959 Modified Hall, was a first time visitor; 5051 Drysllwyn Castle made a return visit. 45690 Leander and 75069 made a reciprocal visit to Didcot.
Friday 4 July saw the unveiling of two plaques commemorating the official opening of Kidderminster Town Station. The same day saw City of Truro leave the SVRSevern Valley Railway bound for the NRMThe Railway Museum, formerly the National Railway Museum at York. During her time at the SVRSevern Valley Railway she had worked a number of main line events as well as services on the SVRSevern Valley Railway.
Sunday 6 July saw ‘SVRSevern Valley Railway 21’, a celebration to mark the 21st anniversary of the founding meeting at the Cooper’s Arms. Many of those who took part had been at that first meeting, including Keith Beddoes whose idea it was.
July also saw work begin on building the new Kidderminster signal box.
Tyseley’s Jubilee 45593 Kolhapur took part in the Autumn Enthusiasts Weekend; the event saw two LMSLondon Midland & Scottish Railway Crimson Lake Jubilees in service. A second visitor was Dinting’s LNWRLondon & North Western Railway WebbFrancis Webb, Locomotive Superintendant/Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the London and North Western Railway 1871-1903 0-6-2 Coal Tank 1054 (numbered 58926 by BRBritish Rail or British Railways).
October 1986: The line was closed on 20 October 1986 for construction of the Bewdley Bypass Bridge. Construction was completed and the line reopened in time for the Santa Special services in December.
November 1986: Following a second Notice from the District Council and appeal by the SVRSevern Valley Railway, an agreement was reached to restrict boiler work to 9-5 on weekdays for the next two years, subject to planning permission for the erection of a boiler shop. The first planning application was promptly refused by the District Council.
Details of locomotives used during 1986 were published at the end of 1989 and are set out in a table (below).
Kidderminster Town won the 1987 "Best Preserved Station" award, not bad considering it was less than 3 years old at the time!
March 1987: 3205 left the SVRSevern Valley Railway, 20 years to the day since she arrived as the first locomotive.
May 1987: The May Diesel Extravaganza saw visits from a ‘Deltic’ and a Class 44 ‘Peak’. Operation of the latter was interesting; “If you don’t get up enough speed, it overheats, and if you get up too much speed, it blows up!”
- SVRSevern Valley Railway locomotives 7819 Hinton Manor, 75069 and 46443 provided the motive power for BRBritish Rail or British Railways’s Cardigan Bay Express summer season. Pannier tank 7760 from Tyseley and 0-6-2T 5619 from the Telford Steam RailwayTelford Horsehay Steam Trust Limited, a Charitable heritage railway located at Horsehay, Telford with proposals for running heritage trains into the Ironbridge Gorge and onto the former GWR Severn Valley branch. spent summer at the SVRSevern Valley Railway as cover for their absence, participating in the Summer Steam Gala before departing in August and September respectively.
- Bridgnorth District Council announced plans for a country park at Alveley. The SVRSevern Valley Railway sold an area of surplus land for incorporation into the park.
September 1987: 53809, a former Somerset & Dorset Railway engine then based at the Midland-Railway Centre at Butterley was booked as the guest engine, but did not arrive in time. Taw Valley hauled a ten coach staff special on Saturday evening as its first train following restoration.
October 1987: Having failed to appear at the Steam Gala, 53809 worked services during the Diesel Weekend on 10-11 October.
December 1987: Kidderminster signal box was commissioned, together with the loop between Kidderminster Footbridge and Hoo Road Bridge. Working over the section to Bewdley was by Acceptance Lever rather than by Electric Token in part due to the distance from the signal box to the end of the loop. The loop also saw the SVRSevern Valley Railway’s first use of an electric points machine, rather than direct connection to the signal box using rods.
Details of locomotives used during 1987 were published at the end of 1989 and are set out in a table (below).
1988 saw a reduction in the amount of main line running. BRBritish Rail or British Railways decided not to repeat the previous year’s Cardigan Bay Express season, and also cancelled a proposed August/September season on the Settle and Carlisle Line using 48773. Negotiations were taking place between BRBritish Rail or British Railways and the Steam Locomotive Owners Association (SLOA) on the future plans for main line steam.
March 1988: Two Tyseley locomotives, GWRGreat Western Railway Castle No 5080 Defiant and LMSLondon Midland & Scottish Railway Jubilee 45593 Kolhapur, visited the SVRSevern Valley Railway to get running in mileage before going on the main line. Both left during April.
April 1988: BRBritish Rail or British Railways Brush-built diesel 31413 visited the SVRSevern Valley Railway on 22 April 1988 to be named “Severn Valley Railway” in a ceremony at Bewdley.
May 1988: A prospectus was issued to raise up to £500,000 for the new boiler shop at Bridgnorth. The two year agreement on day-time open air working would expire in November, and the prospect of increased noise abatement restrictions added urgency to the appeal.
- 34027 Taw Valley was re-named at a ceremony on 4 June. The locomotive also entered full service on the SVRSevern Valley Railway, having been running-in since first steaming the previous year.
- The Coalyard Miniature Railway opened at Kidderminster.
July 1988: The reduced commitment to main line working gave the SVRSevern Valley Railway the opportunity to loan Jinty 47383 to Swanage and HE 686 The Lady Armaghdale to Crewe Heritage Centre. Both returned in September.
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News does not mention that any locomotive visited for the Autumn Steam Gala. A ‘fully fit’ Taw Valley was mentioned as a big crowd pleaser.
- BRBritish Rail or British Railways marked the closure of Birmingham Moor Street Station on 26 September by the use of steam on the final day. 46443 was one of the locomotives taking part, working a return service to Dorridge.
October 1988: The latter days of October saw ‘an orgy of boiler smithing’ to clear the area for construction of the new boiler shop, with four boilers all completed in record time.
November 1988: The contract was let for construction of the boiler shop at Bridgnorth, with a target completion date of April 1989.
December 1988: The Santa Special services carried more than 38,000 passengers, while total ticket sales for the year exceeded 200,000 for the first time.
Details of locomotives used during 1988 were published at the end of 1989 and are set out in a table (below).
February 1989: Described as a ‘temporary addition to the SVRSevern Valley Railway fleet’, LNER A4 60009 Union of South Africa arrived at the Severn Valley for a heavy general repair and boiler overhaul.
- 46443 left on loan to Swanage Railway for the season, returning in September.
- LNERLondon & North Eastern Railway K2 61994 The Great Marquess, in LNERLondon & North Eastern Railway livery as No 3442, was re-named by BRBritish Rail or British Railways Chairman Sir Robert Reid at a ceremony held on 18 April. Although not fully run in, the locomotive would star at the Spring Gala four days later.
- The BRBritish Rail or British Railways staff newspaper ‘Rail News’ carried an article that a fund had been launched to purchase a DMUDiesel Multiple Unit for use on the SVRSevern Valley Railway. The railway received many letters of complaint from members, and the Guarantee Company would later undertake a survey to canvass opinion on whether a DMUDiesel Multiple Unit should be included in the SVRSevern Valley Railway fleet.
May 1989: 34027 Taw Valley made her maiden main line run with a loaded test run from Derby to Sheffield.
- 34027 Taw Valley began a season of ‘North Wales Coast Express’ runs between Crewe and Holyhead. The locomotive was using a tender borrowed from 34101 Hartland, as the tyres on her own tender were worn below BRBritish Rail or British Railways limits.
- 4566 departed on loan to the Gwili Railway for 2 months.
- 61994 The Great Marquess set off for a fortnight on the West Highland Line between Fort William and Mallaig.
August 1989: 1 August saw the death of The Earl of Lindsay, president of the SVRSevern Valley Railway and owner of 61994 The Great Marquess.
September 1989: The September Steam Gala featured the SVRSevern Valley Railway’s locomotives which had returned after working on the main line or out on hire during the summer. BRBritish Rail or British Railways requested Taw Valley for a programme of steam from Marylebone between November and the following March.
Locomotives used in the 5 years to 31 December 1989 and related mileages were:
|Locomotive||1985||1986||1987||1988||1989|| Total at
|4930 Hagley Hall||6,367||4,964||-||-||-||33,213|
|6960 Raveningham Hall||6,224||5,514||7,527||4,798||5,144||48,075|
|7812 Erlestoke Manor||2,232||-||-||-||-||18,142|
|7819 Hinton Manor||8,427||6,188||5,134||2,831||7,742||48,686|
|34027 Taw Valley||-||-||574||2,416||4,425||7,415|
|61994 The Great Marquess||-||-||-||-||4,961||5,161|
|686 The Lady Armaghdale||36||50||62||96||-||1,153|
|Other Locomotives (*)||1,369||5,328||2,776||1,661||-||33,754|
(*) The 'Other Locomotives' figure includes both visiting locomotives and those which were previously resident on the SVRSevern Valley Railway but had left before 31 December 1989. The total number of miles covered also includes all main line mileage covered by SVRSevern Valley Railway locomotives. Source: SVRSevern Valley Railway News Issue 96, page 19.
Information is from past editions of Severn Valley Railway News unless otherwise stated.