The Engine House

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View of The Engine House from Highley Station (Wikimedia Commons)

The Engine House at Highley is the SVRSevern Valley Railway's main museum. It is situated approximately 200 yards from Highley Station, on the site of the former sidings of Highley Colliery. The Kidderminster Railway Museum is the other major museum on the railway, being run by separate charitable organisation.

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

History

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. 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, the company who also built Bridgnorth Cliff Railway in the 1890s.[2] 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.[2]

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 in summer 2009. 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[3]. Before the opening of the Engine House, BR 80300 Post Office Sorting Van was used as the visitor centre.

Items on display

As of January 2017 Steam locomotives on display while awaiting overhaul are:

Carriages and goods wagons on display include:

Current Exhibitions

As of February 2017 current exhibitions are:

  • 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.
  • 2007 Storm Damage – 10 Years on (2017- ) – a look back at the damage inflicted by a freak weather event in the Summer of 2007. The exhibition looks at the damage and the extensive work and funding involved to rebuild the railway.
  • Signs of the Times (2017- ) - a display of London Underground and Great Western Railway signs, courtesy of London Transport Museum and Kidderminster Railway Museum.
  • Peter’s Railway Young Engineers’ Centre (2014- ) - 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.[4]

There are numerous other exhibits, video features and interactive items.

Former Exhibitions

  • 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.

Events

The Engine House is licensed for Civil Marriage Ceremonies which can be conducted in a variety of railway themed locations.[5]

As of 2017 other events 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
  • Christmas Gift Fayre
  • Christmas Carol Trains
  • Christmas carvery

Facilities

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'.[6]. 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.


Gallery

See Also

Highley
Kidderminster Railway Museum

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 SVRSevern Valley Railway News 152
  2. 2.0 2.1 SVRSevern Valley Railway News 154
  3. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 168
  4. Peter's Railway website (retrieved 7 January 2017)
  5. SVR website (retrieved 7 January 2017)
  6. SVRLive

Links

The Engine House on www.svr.co.uk