Beatles tribute band opens at SVR ’60s revival spectacular
17th May 2011
Yes, it’s impossible to separate the 1960s from the group which so epitomised that rocking and rolling decade and who had 17 number one hits – The Beatles – and it is one of the UK’s top Beatles tribute bands - The Upbeat Beatles - who ‘take it away’ this Friday night, to really get ‘Sounds of the ‘60s’ off the starting blocks and into the groove.
On Saturday night it becomes the turn of ‘The Who’ tribute band ‘The Whoo’ to bash out the decibels under the great glass canopy of the SVR terminus, while on Sunday evening – no doubt after lazing on a Sunny Afternoon and possibly against the background of a classic Waterloo Sunset - a third tribute band - The Kinx - will offer due homage and respect to the music of Ray Davis and The Kinks.
The three evening concerts (8pm Friday and Saturday, 7pm Sunday) are backed by more live music gigs at Kidderminster between 2pm and 4pm each day, with local acts The Dave Christie Duo (Friday), The Mock Rockers (Saturday) and The Fireballs (Sunday).
But although its pop music which most naturally conveys the ‘Sounds of the ‘60s’, far from being an out-and-out music festival, the event, staged last year for the first time but now expanded from two days to three, sees the Severn Valley Railway making another strong overture to family groups with an enticing variety of daytime interests and attractions.
Bringing some ‘big boys toys’ of the ‘60s out of the box, at the Engine House Visitor Centre at Highley there will be Scalextric slot cars – every young lad’s introduction to Formula One – which visitors can race, some fabulous working Meccano displays (and not just cranes!) to drool over (by courtesy of Telford Meccano Club), and a real trip down memory lane with three superb model railway layouts built by members of the nationally-renowned Warley Model Railway Club.
For girls who can’t resist a bit of retail therapy, Bewdley station yard hosts an undercover 1960s Market, where over all three days (10.30am – 5pm) more than two dozen stalls will be selling everything from retro clothes and memorablia associated with the era to locally-made confectionary, while recalling how the ’60s brought revolution to the fashion world (it was the age of Mary Quant and mini skirts, culottes and go-go boots, pvc dresses and disco hats, don’t forget) Vintage Vanity, the Kidderminster-based specialists in 1950s, 1960s and 1970s fashions for men and women, will take the spotlight at Kidderminster station to give regular catwalk fashion shows of ‘retro’ clothing throughout the three days.
Transport of the 1960s – both road and rail - is heavily-themed throughout the event, reflecting that this was the era of the demon ‘Dr.Beeching’, when steam was very much on the way out and diesel on the way in, and the SVR’s resident fleet of locomotives is joined by two specially ‘imported’ engines which personify the very last days of steam in 1968 in the north west of England – LMS ‘Black 5s’ Nos.44871 and 45407.
The superbly-restored ‘Stanier twins’ – No.44871 ran on British Rail’s very last steam train of August 11th 1968 and is a first-time visitor to the SVR – bring their own special voice to ‘the Sound of the ‘60s’, from their normal home base on the East Lancs Railway. And there’s another sixties sound to be heard in the chuntering Class 26 diesel D5310, specially shipped in from the Llangollen Railway for the event and booked to be in service during all three days.
The sixties was a watershed for personal car ownership – and fittingly, cars are big on the ‘Sounds of the ‘60s’ agenda, with no fewer than three themed ‘motor shows’ spread out on the SVR’s 16-mile line.
At Kidderminster on Saturday and Sunday, there’s a gathering of more than 60 classic cars of the period, while at Arley station over the weekend, Austin Healey and MG marques will dominate a display of classic sports cars.
On Saturday and Sunday at Bridgnorth, the railway’s northern terminus, another motoring name strongly synonymous with the 1960s - the iconic Morris Minor - takes centre stage, with around 30 ‘Moggies’ – all in the tender loving care of devoted Minor owners and members of the Minor LCV Register expected to be on display. Used to have a Morris Minor yourself? Here’s the very place to reminisce! The event is being supported by the publication ‘Minor Monthly’, and there will be a number of trade stands too.
Milk Bars - almost cult ‘social centres’ in the 1960s where young people met to enjoy a coffee, a flavoured milk shake, or an ice-cream and play jukeboxes and pinball machines - have all but disappeared from Britain’s high streets in the face of the fast-food chain onslaught. But the ‘Milk Bar’ makes a welcome and famous comeback at Kidderminster at ‘Sounds of the ‘60s’ – and not least of all because principal organiser Andy Christie has himself just spent five weeks building such a bar!
Using his carpentry skills to great effect (and spending hundreds of pounds on timber in the process) he has constructed an impressive 24-foot long Milk Bar, complete with classic 1960s retro tiling, from which coffee and milkshakes (or for those with lactic intolerance, pints of beer!) will be dispensed!
‘Sounds of the ‘60s’, Andy believes, has the potential to be as big – if not bigger than the SVR’s hugely popular 1940s Weekends, which regularly attract thousands of additional visitors to the line over back-to-back weekends each summer (this year’s 1940s Weekends are scheduled for June 25th/26th and July 2nd/3rd)
Says Andy, a professional train driver with London Midland and a qualified steam locomotive firemen on the SVR: “The 1960s was a time of great fun and freedom but so far I think we have only scratched at the surface of its potential as a big crowd puller. So this time around we’ve made it a three-day event, and we’re pulling out the stops to unlock the happy memories of an era which many people still hold in great affection.
“One of the biggest plusses of this year’s event is that we’ve dropped the daytime ‘admission charge’ to the Kidderminster site, and apart from the evening retro pop concerts for which we have to make a charge, the whole event is absolutely free within the price of a normal round-trip ticket.”
An intensive schedule of passenger trains on the Kidderminster - Bridgnorth line (12 trains each way on Friday and Saturday, and eleven each way on Sunday) provides the link between the stations and their attractions, and for ticket holders, there’s the additional option of travelling between Kidderminster and Bewdley either by ‘heritage’ bus, or by one of the numerous ‘heritage’ Diesel Multiple Unit shuttle trains.
Concert ticket prices are ‘The Upbeat Beatles’ £14 in advance, £16 on the night; The Whoo £12 in advance, £14 on the night; The Kinx £10 in advance, £12 on the night.
The number for enquiries: 01299-403816, or go online at www.svr.co.uk/SpecialEvents/aspx.