Severn Valley Autumn Steam Gala – The Night Runs

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Cooling down at Bewdley at about 1am!

The Severn Valley’s unique all night running is one of the biggest attractions for the Autumn gala and on the Friday night I was one of those people crazy enough to spend all night on the train. The atmosphere at night on a steam railway is totally different to that during the day, with smoke and steam everywhere, the occasional bright light and darkness totally disorientating. Being half awake around 4am and wondering where the hell you are and what direction you’re going is a bizarre feeling but totally enjoyable.

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Taw Valley in the smoke at Bewdley

Photography-wise though it does present some challenges. In hindsight I should have practiced beforehand, as exposures lasting up to 5 seconds were new to me…

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Can you guess what it is yet?

 

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That’s better!

I soon learnt that realistically you need a tripod to get any decent results, however milk churns, benches, flower tubs and a variety of other things situated in handy spots were all employed at one time or another to get some not bad shots. Obviously in the cold and dark you don’t really want to be leaving the confines of your nice warm carriage too often, so quickly hopping out at either end of the line is the norm:

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Bridgnorth from the footbridge – bleedin’ yard lights!

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43106 on night duties at Kidderminster

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34053 on her last turn of the night.

However, I’d thoroughly recommend spending a half hour or so at Bewdley during the night, as there’s usually a fair amount to see even in the dark; locos cooling down after a hard day’s work, wagons lying in sidings, and the station itself:

 

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A very quiet Bewdley station

 

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2857 cooling down in Bewdley MPD

 

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Part of the SVR’s impressive freight train stabled for the night

And finally to bed; the night trains were comprised mostly of the Gresley teaks with a couple of Mk1s, so there was a varied choice of compartments (usually two per compartment, one on each bench,) or open bays. However I managed to find the unique 1957 “experimental open” with plush wing-backed reclinable chairs:

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Just the job…

and finally nodded off about 3am…

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