Tales from the Severn Valley

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A page for sundry stories from the history of the SVRSevern Valley Railway. Mostly taken from SVRSevern Valley Railway News, but feel free to add your own reminiscences.

Minor derailments

In summer 1977 the SVRSevern Valley Railway experienced two minor derailments in quick succession. The first was unusual for the reason it happened; 45110’s rear coupled driving wheels were derailed by a piece of coal in Bridgnorth yard! The second was notable for the manner in which it was resolved; 47383 got ‘in the dirt’ at Highley while on standby duty. Once the crew had packed the wheels with some handy fishplates that were lying about, a Driver/Director passing on 80079 left his own locomotive, boarded the casualty, drove it back onto the rails, re-joined his own train and left without any delay to the passenger service.[1]

On 14 May 1989, 47383 was again 'off the rails' in the yard at Highley. The subsequent re-railing can be seen in this film on YouTube.

On 3 June 1990, as the "Heavy Freight Weekend" came to a close, a number of wagons were derailed on the trap points at the north end of Bridgnorth Station.

In summer 2001 12099 became derailed at Bewdley when the back siding track spread due to rotten sleepers.[2]

In May 2017, the rear wheel set on the tender of GWR 2857 Heavy Goods Loco derailed at a slow speed whilst travelling light engine and swapping sets at Kidderminster, with no passengers involved. 2857's tender had only recently returned from Tyseley after tyre turning. An investigation was instigated.

In the early morning of 22 July 2019 75069 collided with a fallen tree between Hampton Loade and Country Park Halt while running light engine from Bridgnorth to work a service train from Kidderminster, with no passengers involved. The locomotive’s bogie was derailed.[3][4]

Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch aka Highley

During 1982, passengers between Arley and Hampton Loade were surprised to find themselves passing Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Highley had been renamed for the filming of a TV commercial.

Nesting thrush floors 3205

In 1983, 3205 failed a Fitness To Run examination for an unlikely reason; a thrush had nested in the cab! The locomotive returned to service once the fledglings had flown the nest.

Lady A' steps in for Clun Castle

Also in 1983, Hunslet 686 The Lady Armaghdale spent 7 weeks at the Birmingham Railway Museum (now Tyseley Locomotive Works) and took place in Tyseley’s celebrations of 75 years as a steam depot. Sunday 5 June was scheduled to be Industrial Steam Day, but Tyseley’s own Peckett was out of action. In an unusual role reversal, ‘Lady A’ hauled passenger services all day while 7029 Clun Castle acted as Depot shunter.

Severn Valley Railway News saves the day

Severn Valley Railway News (the Railway’s quarterly magazine) is not just a good read, it once rescued a railtour! While on an SVRSevern Valley Railway Railtours excursion in April 1984, Class 40 no 40024 failed at Hereford. The fault was diagnosed as a loose contactor causing poor electrical connection. The offending contactor was wedged in place with a copy of SVRSevern Valley Railway News, and the tour continued to Leeds after a 10 minute delay.

April Fool!

The ‘April Fool’ involving the repainting of City of Truro in BRBritish Rail or British Railways livery is well known. Two other ‘April Fools’ appeared in the spring 1996 edition of SVRSevern Valley Railway News Locomotive Notes. One reported that 2857, then under overhaul, was to be fitted with a Giesel ejector to reduce coal consumption. The other reported that to meet Health and Safety requirements on monitoring crew working hours, locomotives were to be fitted with tachographs.

A real Thomas enthusiast

In February 1996, the SVRSevern Valley Railway received a fax from a Mr Chee in Malaysia, saying he has found the SVRSevern Valley Railway on the Internet (which was primitive in those days!) and asking if the SVRSevern Valley Railway did Thomas the Tank Engine weekends. A reply in the affirmative was faxed, and Mr Chee duly arrived from Selangor in June with his wife and young son.

Children and animals

The late John Leach was for many years the SVRSevern Valley Railway’s Marketing Manager. Two examples of his maxim that ‘children and animals make a good story’. In 1995 the SVRSevern Valley Railway membership hit 16,000, including a Dalmatian dog which had been enrolled by his owner. When contacted, the owner agreed that this would make a good local news item. The story escalated, eventually reaching several of the national tabloids (the Daily Star in typical fashion referring to the Dalmatian as ‘A new breed of train-spotter’). The same year a 10 year old girl sent a donation of £20.63 to the Railway which she had saved over the previous 6 months. The Bewdley office staff rounded this up to £25 which bought her a £25 share in the Railway. A ‘news photocall’ of the presentation was organised, which BBC ‘Midlands Today’ attended, and later broadcast a 4 minute news item on prime-time evening television. As John Leach pointed out, a 4 minute advertisement on Central TV would have cost the Railway around £215,000. Such is the value of a good story.

The last steam train from Paddington (again)

From Didcot Railway Centre Facebook page, 24 May 2019.

In the early hours of Saturday 24 May 1969, a remarkable event happened. We were in the depths of the notorious Steam Ban. British Rail had announced in August 1968 that steam locomotives would never again run on their lines, when we learned that an ex-GWRGreat Western Railway pannier tank locomotive was going to run through Paddington station, no less!

All right, it was a pannier tank owned by London Transport and it was going to run through platform 15 which was now used by Metropolitan Line trains and no longer linked to the British Rail tracks in Paddington’s suburban station. Neverthess it was worth turning up at 1.20 in the morning to get a photograph of what we asked at the time was the first FIRST steam train at Paddington since the last LAST one had departed nearly four years previously.

The locomotive L.95 was previously GWRGreat Western Railway No 5764. The reason for its unusual nocturnal visit was that it was hauling the 12.30am workman’s train from Lillie Bridge, which worked along the Metropolitan Line towards Hammersmith for track maintenance use. The train was usually hauled by a battery electric locomotive and our friends on London Transport made sure we were tipped off about the substitution. The locomotive L.95/5764 is now preserved on the Severn Valley Railway.

5764's rapid entry to SVRSevern Valley Railway service

5764 was acquired direct from London Transport, arriving in LT livery on 19 June 1971 and entering service shortly thereafter. An indication of just how quickly it entered service may be judged by the lighting of a fire in the engine whilst it was being unloaded from the low-loader.

The Steaming Granny

Anthea Hanscombe had a passion for steam engines[5] and was no stranger to the footplate, having driven Flying Scotsman at Tyseley Railway Museum when aged 72. On 30th June 2001 she attended an SVRSevern Valley Railway “Steam Supreme” driving course as an 80th Birthday treat. Anthea duly completed the 64 mile driving course aboard 80079 with eight coaches in tow. One or two ‘slips’ on departure were considered acceptable, it being a wet day.

Two that got away

An article by David Williams in Steam Railway Magazine issue 437 listed a number of locomotives which might have joined the SVRSevern Valley Railway fleet, but didn’t.

The first locomotive offered to the SVRSevern Valley Railway was ‘Royal Scot’ 4-6-0 No 46115 Scots Guardsman, which had been bought by a Birmingham businessman shortly after being withdrawn by BRBritish Rail or British Railways in December 1965. The SVRSevern Valley Railway’s Operating Superintendent considered the locomotive too heavy, at 138 tons with a 20.5 ton axle loading, so the offer was declined. The Scot is now owned by West Coast Railways and can be seen working on the main line. 46115 on Wikipedia

Another request for a home on the SVRSevern Valley Railway was made by a group of Southern enthusiasts who were raising money to buy MaunsellRichard Maunsell, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the South Eastern and Chatham Railway from 1913-1923, and of the Southern Railway 1923-1937. U Class No 31618, which in January 1969 became the second locomotive to leave BarryWoodham Brothers Scrapyard, Barry, South Wales. The source of many locomotives now in preservation. scrapyard. This time the offer was refused as the locomotive was not considered appropriate for an ex-GWRGreat Western Railway heritage line. The ‘U-boat’ is now at a suitable southern home, the Bluebell Railway. 31618 on Bluebell web site

Both these offers were made and declined before 3205 became the first locomotive to find a home at the SVRSevern Valley Railway.

Coal for Stourport Power Station

From Alfred Powick via Facebook;[6]
"Stourport coal from Highley was usually loaded in CEGB 20 tonners... A large proportion of Highley coal was good quality household coal, and most of the coal for Stourport came from the Cannock area often brought down to Hartlebury by Midland Region locos or a Stourbridge 56xxA GWR 5600 Class 0-6-2T engine. A Kiddy pannier or 56xxA GWR 5600 Class 0-6-2T engine shuttled it between Hartlebury and Stourport while the Midland loco turned using the triangle via Bewdley."

"I started my career with the NCBNational Coal Board at Highley, spending some time on the screens, so seeing the loads going out. I also spent time in the survey office and later as an official there so knew the production which came from one seam only (the Brooch). It was good house coal.
I doubt that the total weekly output from Alveley (the coal winding shaft of Highley unit) would keep the power station going for 24 hours, and as only about 30% went to Stourport, the bulk of coal needed there would have to come from somewhere else. The Highley/Alveley unit was only a small mine.
Up until 1954, I lived overlooking Kidderminster station, and regularly saw the coal trains coming down from Stourbridge, often with a Super DAn LNWR 0-8-0 goods engine on the front. Inside the hour, the Super DAn LNWR 0-8-0 goods engine would appear light engine from Bewdley, now facing North, to then trundle off tender first to Hartlebury, appearing some time later with empties. The 56xxA GWR 5600 Class 0-6-2T engine at Kiddy, sometimes a 57xxA GWR 5700 Class 0-6-0PT engine, was stationed at Hartlebury to work the coal and empties to and from Stourport, I later worked at other pits in Shropshire, finishing on Cannock Chase, where I knew that coal went to Stourport and Ironbridge from Littleton colliery, a much bigger pit than Highley."

New recruits at RAF Bridgnorth

A visitor to the SVRSevern Valley Railway recalled that as a young boy growing up in Bridgnorth, he and his friends would go to the station whenever a new intake for RAF Bridgnorth arrived by train. The new recruits were lined up on the platform and ordered to turn their pockets out before being marched off to the camp. After they had had gone, the boys would go along the platform picking up all the chocolate and cigarettes, "It was like Xmas every six weeks".

George Thorpe, licensee of The Railwayman's Arms

Elias Thorpe, or George as he was more commonly known, served in France during the first world war, initially with the Suffolk Regiment and then with the Kings Liverpool regiment. He lied about his age and actually joined up when he was only 16. He was captured by the Germans at Haplincourt on 23rd March 1918 and spent the rest of that year at Parchim prisoner-of war camp in northern Germany. He was eventually re-patriated and demobbed in 1919.[7]

George was born on 26th August 1898 at Gedney, Lincolnshire. He was one of 12 children from a travelling Gypsy family. His father was called Ambrose and his mother went under the unusual name of Leviathan. The Gypsy genealogy site records the following interesting tale: "On 29th February 1880 a little girl, Mabel, was born in Bedford gaol. Her mother, Leviathan Thorpe, had been sentenced to six months hard labour in the September of 1879 for fortune-telling.

The Cambridge Independent Press reported the case in a somewhat patronising tone:

"On Thursday, the 18th instant, a Gypsy woman, rejoicing in the unfeminine name of Leviathan Thorp (sic), the wife of a travelling Gypsy, called at the residence of Mrs James, of Market Street, having buttons to sell. Two servant girls answered the door-bell and some small articles being purchased, Leviathan asked Hannah Chapman . . . whether she would like to have her fortune told. [She] was requested to produce a piece of gold, which she did, in the shape of a sovereign, with which she crossed the Leviathan’s delicate hand; then a pack of cards was produced, representing a small planetary system, on which the gold was placed. . . The sovereign was placed in a piece of paper . . . then . . . returned to the girl . . . [who was told] “put the parcel under your pillow, and you will dream of a handsome young man; he will be your husband; but if you examine the parcel before the end of the week the charm will be broken.” . . .When Hannah Chapman informed her fellow servant, Sarah Adams, of the result of the interview, she was incredulous, and strongly urged her to open the mysterious parcel, and Hannah did so, and lo and behold! Her golden sovereign had been metamorphosed into a paltry farthing.

Leviathan Thorpe was arrested within a couple of hours and remanded until the 25th September, where her counsel, Mr Naylor, advised her to plead guilty. However, he explained to the court that Leviathan already had four children and was now pregnant with a fifth; he requested compassion, especially in view of the fact that the sovereign had been returned. Nevertheless, the court sentenced her to six months hard labour and deprived her of her hawking certificate."

Leviathan’s prison record claimed that she was 29 years of age, had been born in Deal, Kent, was 5’3 ½” tall, a Gypsy pedlar, and the wife of Ambrose Thorpe. She had been remanded at Ely . . . for stealing a sovereign, by mean of a trick, as a fortune teller. She is described as having black, curly hair, dark eyes and a dark complexion, dressed in a black and white checked shawl, with a black felt hat.

Leviathan’s marriage to Ambrose was her second union, and his third; his second wife had, in fact, been Leviathan’s sister, Elizabeth Draper. Ambrose was the son of James Thorpe and Eliza Buttress, baptised in Suffolk in 1840. Leviathan Draper, who had been baptised in Stevenage, Hertfordshire in 1852, was the daughter of Joseph and Ann Draper. At the time of her arrest she had already given birth to Lementina, born in 1871; Mackenzie, born in 1872; Delilah/Laila, born in 1874; Lurina, born about 1876; Adolphus, born in 1878. Her daughter, Mabel, born in Bedford gaol, was baptised together with Mabel’s brother, Adolphus, at Haslingfield, Cambridgeshire in 1880.

In the 1871 census Ambrose and Leviathan are in a travelling caravan at Headingley cum Burley, in Leeds, Yorkshire, with their baby, Lementina, and Ambrose’s sister, Holland Thorpe. However, since, in 1879, her counsel said Leviathan had four children, and not five, and Lementina, although appearing in the 1871 census, is not with the family in 1881, it is probable that she had died.

Subsequently Leviathan and Ambrose added several more children to their family. Mark was born in the registration district of St Ives, Huntingdonshire, in1882; Bendigo, born in the Downham registration district, in 1884; Esau, born in Huntingdonshire in about 1886; Otey, in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire in 1889; Emperor, born in the registration district of Holbeach, Lincolnshire, in 1894; Elias, born in the same location, in 1898.

In the 1881 census the family are found in a caravan on Ashdon Road, Great Barlow, Linton, Cambridgeshire. Ambrose has used his mother’s maiden name of Buttress for this record, and his forename is, anyway, incorrectly recorded as Adolphus. By 1891, the group are parked in a caravan in Gracious Street, Whittlesey, Cambridgeshire, and Ambrose has returned to using the surname Thorpe; the family has grown, since Mabel’s birth, to include Mark, Bendigo, Esau and Otey.

The census records of 1901 and 1911 show the family in pretty much the same location. In 1901 they are at Charter’s Farm, Gedney, Holbeach, in Lincolnshire; Leviathan is listed as ‘Elizabeth,’ and eight of their children are present. Lurina/Laura is recorded as a widow, so presumably the little grandson, Ambrose, aged six, who is with the family, is her son. Mark is working as a groom, Bendigo and Esau as agricultural labourers, the remainder of the children are at school, and their father is listed as a licensed hawker.

1911 sees Leviathan recorded as ‘Mary,’ Ambrose Thorpe as a licensed hawker, and only three of the children are camped with their parents in the Gedney Road, Long Sutton, Lincolnshire: Esau, a general dealer; Emperor, a bird catcher and general labourer; Elias, still attending school. But there is another small family parked alongside, it is that of Otey Thorpe, a pedlar of hardware. He is with his wife, Cinderella, formerly Loveridge, and their baby daughter – carrying on the family name, the little girl is another Leviathan. A few months earlier they had lost their second daughter, Coralina, baptised at the church of St Mary, Long Sutton, Lincolnshire on 16th October 1910 and buried the same month, the daughter of a hawker.

The church of St Mary at Long Sutton was also to be the last resting place for the elder Leviathan, buried on 21st October 1916, aged 64, and Ambrose, too, was buried there on 19th February 1919, aged 81. It was probably considered a family church, since, in October 1893 Ambrose’s brother, Oliver, aged 47, had also been buried there".

Yellow Peril catches fire

Diminutive diesel shunter "Yellow Peril" lived up to its name when it caught fire one day at Bewdley. Mick Osbourne, signalman in the South Box, ran down the box steps and put the fire out using the box’s fire extinguisher. Mick Thorp arrived on the scene and, using his ingenuity in rewiring the loco, got it working again. In just over ten minutes, it was back shunting![8]

1859 thefts

There were a number of incidents of theft during 1859 while the railway was still under construction...
In January, a bargeman employed by Brassey & Field to carry materials for the new railway was imprisoned for stealing railway sleepers.[9]
In March the Christiana hit Atcham Bridge, near Shrewsbury, while carrying 55 tons of railway chairs. 15 tons of chairs were left on the bank, with some later being offered to the Coalbrookdale Company as scrap after being stolen by fishermen.[10]
In July, a ganger working at Upper Arley disappeared with two weeks wages for twelve to fifteen men.[11]

Class 50 Golden Jubilee

From October 4 - 6 2018 the SVRSevern Valley Railway hosted the joint largest operational gathering of one loco type ever staged in preservation (steam or diesel), with ten working locos. Class 50 Alliance locos 50007 Hercules, 50031 Hood, 50035 Ark Royal, 50044 Exeter and 50049 Defiance were joined by guests 50008 Thunderer, 50015 Valiant, 50017 Royal Oak, 50033 Glorious and 50050 Fearless. 50026 Indomitable would have made the record breaking 11, but was on static display following problems with an engine start up the week before. An intensive operation of Class 50 hauled services included local services between Kidderminster and Bewdley and Class 50 hauled ballast trains using the BR 'Seacow' 40t Bogie Ballast Hoppers. An exhibition of Class 50 memorabilia and models was on display in The Engine House, and on October 6 50049 was formally rededicated at Kidderminster by Commodore Robert Bellfield, Royal Navy, Commander Devonport Flotilla, Devonport Dockyard – the former home to training base HMS Defiance. 'Glorious' ran in mostly green undercoat, with the public invited to 'tag' the locomotive with graffiti in marker pen in exchange for a £5 contribution towards its repaint, raising £3,460 towards the £10,000 cost.[12] An antecendent to the class, BR Class 40 40106 Atlantic Conveyor, was spare loco and operated on the Saturday. It recorded excellent passenger numbers of 3,574.[13]

The Rag Express - official!

The railway uses a lot of rags across all operations, such as for lighting up locos, as grips in signal boxes and a multitude of other things. The SVRSevern Valley Railway has a volunteer at the Diesel Depot who works in a laundry and sources large amounts of rags. These are then distributed across the railway to various departments. The junior volunteers (some ex-SVR Apprentices) for a number of years have sorted and distributed the rags. It gives them the chance to ride in the brakevan then offload at points along the line. The term Rag Express was an informal name but in 2019 they made a traditional headboard, using skills from their time in school. Another named train joined the SVRSevern Valley Railway lexicon!

The SVRSevern Valley Railway as light duties

Jim Teague commented that some Severn Valley route jobs at Shrewsbury were regarded as light duties, and accordingly allocated to 'green card' men. This he compared to the increased demand and loadings in the tourist era.

The overweight locomotive

The Severn Valley Branch was classified as a 'dotted blue' route between Bewdley and Ironbridge. Heavier 'Red' locomotives were banned, especially because of the restrictions in place on Victoria Bridge.

'Asleft', a fireman at Kidderminster in the late 1940s, recounted that on one occasion the running department allocated a GWR 5600 class locomotive to work the Alveley Colliery coal trains. Without checking, the foreman booked this to be sent to Hartlebury to relieve the morning engine. There 'Asleft' and his driver prepared the locomotive, noting that it was particularly dirty as usual. They were unfamiliar with the class but duly worked the empty coal train to Alveley. Only then, while oiling the motion, did the driver catch sight of a faint red disc beneath the dirt and realise that the locomotive should not be there!

They opted to return over Victoria Bridge and complete the day's work, after which the driver sought out the foreman and said he was prepared to make his report. 'Asleft' concluded "What happened I do not know, but the engine was not there the next day, or ever again"[14].

Stolen dynamite

From the Kidderminster Times and Advertiser for Bewdley & Stourport of Saturday 20 May 1876. "On Sunday afternoon a number of lads, who ought to have been at a Sunday school, visited the tunnel now in course of completion on the loop line to Bewdley, and abstracted from a box they found there, some dynamite cartridges used in blasting the rock. They then adjourned to the Sutton Common cricket field and while experimenting with the cartridges, an explosion took place, thereby a lad named Bradford lost two fingers and a thumb, and probably the sight of one of his eyes. He was conveyed at once to the Infirmary, where the amputation has been performed. The fright the other lads received ought to be taken advantage of by their parents, and their attendance at a Sunday school insisted upon."[15]

Fundamental dishonesty

The case of Creech v Severn Valley Railway & Ors was heard at Telford County Court on 25 March 2015. Creech, a security guard, claimed to have suffered a fractured shoulder in 2011 after tripping on a pile of matting left after an ice rink was dismantled at Kidderminster. District Judge Rodgers found that the rink was fully intact at the alleged time of the accident and the claim was dismissed. The judge made a rare finding of 'fundamental dishonesty' based on the impossibility of Creech having an honest belief in the events forming claim, and awarding the SVRSevern Valley Railway costs of over £11,500 against the claimant.[16]

Fire at Bewdley

At 4am on Wednesday 15th May 1867, a wagon loaded with charcoal caught fire "through carelessness in loading it with a piece of lighted charcoal". The fire spread to the two adjacent wagons and resulted in two wagons being destroyed.[17] Charcoal production was a significant industry in Bewdley and the Wyre Forest at this time.

Daring robberies from Bewdley goods shed

From the Worcester Journal of Saturday 31 August 1867 "For many months a series of daring robberies have occurred at the shed, Bewdley Station, and they have been managed in such a mysterious way as hitherto to evade detection. Some time ago a ham was stolen; and at various times many other articles suitable for domestic consumption or clothing have been missed without leaving any clue as to how they were removed from the shed. The shed was always locked at night, and in the morning there was not the slightest indication of its having been broken into. Last Monday week Mr. Landon, liquor merchant, Bewdley, sent four jars of spirits to the station, containing four gallons of gin and three of whiskey. This, notwithstanding the terrific storm of that night, was gone on the following morning. The company sent a detective to investigate this case, but he failed to discover the stolen articles, as the police had hitherto done. P C. Pennington, stationed at Wribbenhall, however, on Wednesday morning, suceeded in finding the jars buried in a garden adjoining the station, in the occupation of Charles Browne, a "tapper" employed there. He immediately sent for Supt. Staunton, of the Stourport Division, and Browne was taken into custody, and removed to the Stourport lock-up. One of the jars was unsealed, one empty, one broken, and the other about half full."[18]

The 'Bodmin' Fund

In around 1970 a fund was set up to purchase SRSouthern Railway BulleidOliver Vaughan Snell Bulleid, Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the Southern Railway 1937-1948 West Country class PacificLocomotive with a 4-6-2 wheel configuration 34016 Bodmin, then at Barry Scrapyard, for use on the SVRSevern Valley Railway. After a period of quiet the secretary announced that the fund was being wound up, with monies returned or applied to other SVRSevern Valley Railway projects. A clerical error and unfortunate misunderstanding at BarryWoodham Brothers Scrapyard, Barry, South Wales. The source of many locomotives now in preservation. meant they had overlooked a prior deposit paid by another fund based at Swanage, who had later confirmed their intention to complete the purchase. This was not before the SVRSevern Valley Railway fund had made extensive preparation work to allow the locomotive to be shunted out.[19] Ironically, the locomotive did not end up at Swanage, and is restored at the Mid Hants Railway.

1970 reopening photography

The reopening of passenger services in 1970 is one of the poorest covered of such events photographically in Britain. It was a period when young keen SVRSevern Valley Railway supporters were quite poor, and colour photography was very expensive. The nation’s top (wealthy) photographers had yet to discover where Bridgnorth was on the map and were still mourning the then recent loss of BRBritish Rail or British Railways steam.

Another failing was that a party of 8 from the SVRSevern Valley Railway had booked flights to Portugal some three months earlier. This included two of the most prolific and keen photographers, David Cooke and David Williams, and others newly equipped with Pentaxes. This seemingly inexcusable fact was because the date of reopening was not known until the Light Railway Order was granted on 20 May 1970 and there was no time to lose!

The weather was uncharacteristically poor for that period, dull and hazy. So, while the same few monochrome photographs have appeared of day 1, there is little of quality of this event. Day 2 by comparison was attended by good weather, and most published pictures show the sunshine of that day and other days[20].

The Bodfish Trophy

In the later 1970s or early 1980s, Jim Bodfish in a shunting mishap succeeded in demolishing the Hollybush Road carriage sidings buffer stop, and so failed to extend the SVRSevern Valley Railway northwards towards Shrewsbury. A Bodfish Trophy was created, to be presented to drivers who subsequently made the same error, by welding metal remains from the demolished buffer stop together and fixing to a toilet seat to act as a plinth[21]. The trophy is on display in the Railwayman's Arms at Bridgnorth. It reads "Awarded to the following SVRSevern Valley Railway members of staff for their attempts to reach Salop". A number of distinguished SVRSevern Valley Railway names are featured.

"Soul destroying" boredom at Kidderminster

In 1973, the Birmingham Post reported that Thomas Whatmore, a former relief freight shunter in the Birmingham area with 26 years service with British Railways, resigned a little over three months after being transferred to Kidderminster as a passenger train shunter, due to the "soul destroying" boredom of the job.[22]
Most trains from Birmingham terminated at Kidderminster, and as Phil Moone describes on the SVR forum, "As soon as the train arrived the driver got out of the front cab and someone else immediately got in. The driver would walk along the platform to the rear cab closing doors as he went. When he was in the rear cab there would be an exchange of buzzers and the train would proceed to the crossover by the Junction Box. If the northbound line was clear then as soon as the train cleared the points the signalman would have the crossover reversed and the ground signal off, often before the train had even come to a stop. The original driver would then drive the train back to the station, often with only a few seconds stop at the Junction. It was a very slick operation, and presumably was to save the driver having to climb down to track level as many of the DMUs at that time had no through corridors... I also got the impression that the train was being driven from the rear up to the Junction and the person at the front would push the buzzer if the signal went back to danger or some other emergency occurred...". This practice meant the relief driver's duty was little more than acting as a look out in the leading cab for the few seconds it took to reverse the train from the platform to the crossover point.

'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing' (Railwayman's Arms version)

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Batham's beer is just the thing
Wondrous bitter, glorious mild
Sorts a man out from a child
Brewed in the heart of the old Black Country
Sold in the Lamp in fair Dudley
Hark! The Herald Angels claim
Adds strength a tone every strain
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Batham's beer is just the thing!
Credited to the late Jim Bodfish, as recollected by Jan Chojnacki in December 2022.

See also

The Severn Valley Railway in preservation


  1. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 44
  2. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 136
  3. Steam Railway Magazine Issue 496, p 13, Severn Valley '4MTThe 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.' derailed after hitting tree, statement attributed to ESMP Manager Neil Taylor (Retrieved 26 August 2019)
  4. Shropshire Star 23 July 2019 (Retrieved 29 July 2019)
  5. BBC Radio 4, "The Steaming Granny
  6. Unofficial SVR Facebook page
  7. Andy Williams, via Facebook 15 April 2017
  8. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 133 p. 62. “The Early SVRSevern Valley Railway Shunters” (Chris Magner)
  9. Trinder (2005) p 131.
  10. Trinder (2005) p 132.
  11. Marshall (1989) p 47.
  12. Express Points November 2018
  13. SVRSevern Valley Railway NBINotice Board Issue. The SVR's on-line method of circulating information to working members.
  14. 'Asleft' (1978), pp. 46-47.
  15. Kidderminster Times and Advertiser for Bewdley & Stourport on the British Newspaper Archive
  16. DWF Solicitors (Retrieved 16 November 2019)
  17. Worcester Journal on the British Newspaper Archive
  18. Worcester Journal on the British Newspaper Archive
  19. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 19, Spring 1971, p. 29
  20. David Williams, personal correspondence April 2020
  21. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 210
  22. Birmingham Daily Post - Saturday 10 March 1973 on the British Newspaper Archive