TRH visit Severn Valley Railway

by

The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall unveil a plaque on arrival at Severn Valley Railway’s Kidderminster station terminus, 10 June 2008

(source: The Prince of Wales official website, click photo for picture in its original context.)

We wanted to run this story on Wednesday, but the rapidly changing situation regarding Wolsztyn’s scheduled steam turns meant it got held over till the weekend. I hope that all our readers, wherever they may be, will take inspiration from this wonderful piece of good news. D.

While storm clouds gather over over the future of Poland’s railway heritage, Their Royal Highnesses, The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, visited the Severn Valley Railway on Tuesday 10 June, to help celebrate a remarkable recovery from storm damage another sort.

On 19 June 2007, in the space of just thirty minutes, the equivalent of two weeks rain fell along the Severn Valley, the rain continued day after day, with further heavy rainstorms taking place in July. When the storms abated, they left behind serious flood damage in the region and the railway was faced with the need to carry out repairs costing in the order of £3 million!

In no fewer than 45 separate locations between Bewdley and Bridgnorth, the ground had slipped or moved. The majority of these received attention from SVR’s own maintenance teams. However, in at least ten places, the damage was such that external contractors and heavy plant were required to restore the railway to its previous tip top condition. Now the work has been completed and the train service, which had been suspended on the worst damaged section of line, was fully restored again on 21 March 2008.

The closure of the railway had a negative impact upon the railway’s summer income, the tourist season of the towns that it served, and the regional economy as a whole. The railway launched an emergency appeal. The railway’s insurers paid out £500,000 for loss of revenue, Advantage West Midlands, recognizing the railway’s contribution to the local economy, paid out £750,000; the European Regional Development Fund is expected to contribute a similar sum. The Railway’s members and friends dug deep into their pockets. In a magnificent show of solidarity other preserved railways including including the Mid Hants Railway, the Gloucestershire Warwickshire Railway, the West Somerset Railway, the Avon Valley Railway, the Dean Forest Railway, the Great Central Railway, the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and the Bluebell Railway provided volunteers and loaned equipment.

Then the Prince came! The sun shone. The Severn Valley borrowed GWR 6024 “King Edward I” for the occasion from the Didcot Railway Centre and the Prince sent the royal train. The royal couple unveiled a commorative plaque at Kidderminster Station. Prince Charles bought two tickets and the royal couple boarded the train. This was the first occasion that the new royal train had travelled on a heritage railway or been pulled by a steam engine. At Bewdley the Prince visited the signal box and then boarded the footplate where he refreshed his engine driving skills which he had practised in 2003 on the Welsh Highland Railway.

The train stopped at Hampton Loade railway station where the royal couple met station master Steve Dockerty and long-time Severn Valley Railway members Bill and Muriel Bennett who have lived in the station house for more than 50 years. They then continued their journey on the line to Bridgnorth where they unveiled another plaque. The prince spoke briefly thanking everybody who had contributed to the restoration of the railway.

The royal couple’s visit gave the railway a great publicity after its recent bad fortune and was a great boost to the morale of its volunteers. If only those working to save Poland’s railway heritage could receive the same recognition from the President of Poland!

More words and pictures:

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s