Although today’s blog post is the last of a quartet of heritage railways visited in a little over a week, it certainly is not the least. The Severn Valley Railway deservedly has a reputation as one of the leading lights in the heritage railway world. The line has featured here on this blog before, but this was personally my first visit since being very young. This year the line is celebrating it’s Golden Jubilee and so I thought it would be a good time to pay a visit to the railway.
This visit was made purely for the ride to relax and unwind in the middle of a long car journey from the north west of England to the south coast. The line is 16 miles long and a round trip takes two and a half hours. For this reason, we only had enough time for the ride and a little time to explore the two terminus stations. Therefore our steam engine for the day was the only one we had a chance to look at in any detail – ex-GWR 45xx small prairie tank 4566. We started our trip from Bridgnorth – a lovely town in Shropshire. Bridgnorth is the operational home of the railway’s impressive fleet. It is very much a busy depot and it’s not too surprising that public access is rather limited to the periphery of the site. With that said there are still opportunities for the observant, with a range of diesel and steam traction, including on this day 28xx 2857 (click here for more,) the new build replica of Trevithick 2-2-0 Catch Me Who Can and the progressing Standard 3MT 2-6-2T 82045 (click here to read more.)
Even better for the enthusiast (from what I have heard) is the line’s reserve collection that can be found in the engine house at Highley. Unfortunately we did not have enough time to visit this exhibition, but the impressive and oddly modern looking building was evident from the train as we passed through Highley.
The stations along the route are beautiful places and the passing glances has certainly made me want to return to explore them properly!
The Severn Valley Railway (as the name suggests) follows the course of the river Severn. At 220 miles long, the Severn is the longest river in the UK and the greatest in terms of flow in England and Wales. As you can imagine, crossing this river requires substantial infrastructure and the very impressive 200ft cast iron Victoria bridge is just that.
Other views of note include Trimpley Reservoir and even a short section of West Midlands Safari park – it’s not everyday that you see elephants and rhino from a train in the UK!At Kidderminster the train paused for some time, giving an opportunity to get a good look at 4566. The crew of the engine were very obliging and even invited me onto the cab – more of which can be found by clicking here.
Kidderminster is home to a small (free of charge) Railway Museum that contains a collection of Railwayana that’s worth a look before returning to the train for the return journey. Walking through the courtyard at Kidderminster station you really feel like you have stepped back in time. All in all it’s a fitting terminus for such a well regarded railway.
It will probably come as no surprise to hear that I thoroughly enjoyed my ride through the Severn Valley. Hopefully in the not too distant future I’ll make a full day of it – there’s certainly enough to see to spend many hours on the railway!