SVR'S GOLDEN ANNIVERSARY YEAR SET TO BE ITS BUSIEST YET
2nd February 2015
Following on from a successful 2014, staff and volunteers are now preparing for a bumper year of celebrations for the anniversary, marking the first meeting of a group of young railway enthusiasts in a Kidderminster pub on 6th July 1965, who formed the Severn Valley Railway Society.
The original SVR line closed two years' earlier under the notorious Beeching Axe; a cost-saving measure introduced by Dr Richard Beeching, the then chairman of the British Transport Commission, which saw more than 2,000 stations shut across the country.
Five years after that initial meeting, the first section of the preserved SVR line, between Bridgnorth and Hampton Loade, was opened for public passenger services in May 1970, following a successful period of fundraising.
A series of truly unique events will bring those pioneering days to life throughout 2015, with the founding members joining current staff, volunteers and supporters in celebration.
Pump trolleys – epitomised in films and used extensively by the early SVR volunteers – take to the tracks once again as part of an exciting competition, which will see teams test their endurance travelling a total of 50 miles along the original four-and-a-half mile stretch of line between Bridgnorth and Hampton Loade on April 27th.
Founding members will also board a special dining train on July 6th, to mark 50 years to the day of that initial meeting, following presentations at Kidderminster Town Station.
A special anniversary programme will be in place for the Spring Steam Gala – one of the line's favourite events held over the weekend March 20th – 22nd. The Gala will feature the official public opening of a superb new exhibition at The Engine House Visitor Centre at Highley, which celebrates the first 50 years of the Railway in words and pictures, while visitors can also pick up a copy of a special souvenir Golden Jubilee Commemorative Edition of the Express & Star in the main stations and at The Engine House.
Special guests during this year's gala include a former resident, as loco GWR/London Transport pannier tank No. L92, returns to the line, whilst unique WD 2-8-0 No. 90733 'Dub Dee' will make its debut at the SVR, representing a class of freight locomotives used right up to the end of steam in the late 60s.
Families and visitors will first be able to get involved in the Railway's 50th anniversary celebrations during this February's half-term February 14th – 22nd by taking part in a special birthday quiz and colouring competition during their journey.
Children and adults alike will be able to test their skills operating a tram as part of a special guest exhibition from the Manchester Model Tramway Group, which will be bringing its unique large scale model trams to The Engine House at Highley – also during February half-term.
These special events will join the SVR’s extensive programme of popular events throughout the year including the Family Fun Weekend, Step Back to the 1940s Weekends, Autumn Steam Gala, Ghost Trains and Santa Season Services.
Clare Gibbard, the SVR’s marketing and communications manager, said: “Reaching our 50th year is an incredible milestone for the Railway and just goes to demonstrate the on-going dedication, passion and hard work of the founding members, volunteers and staff who keep the Railway running smoothly throughout each year – each walking in the footsteps of those first supporters who made history in 1965.
"Of course, we also wouldn’t be here without the support of all our visitors, both enthusiasts and families, and we are thrilled to be bringing a host of brand new events to the Railway in 2015, alongside our annual schedule.
"The year is gearing up to be very special and exciting for us and we can’t wait to celebrate this amazing achievement and legacy with all those who mean so much to the Railway’s success."
For more information about the Railway, events, or the history of the line, or to book tickets, visit www.svr.co.uk or call 01562 757900.