The Severn Valley Railway is a heritage railway in Shropshire and Worcestershire, England. The 16-mile (26 km) heritage line runs along the Severn Valley from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster, crossing the Shropshire/Worcestershire border, following the course of the River Severn for much of its route. Train services are hauled predominantly by steam locomotives; however diesel traction is also sometimes used on designated days and during periods of high fire risk.
The Severn Valley line was built between 1858 and 1862, and linked Hartlebury, near Droitwich Spa, with Shrewsbury, a distance of 40 miles (64 km). Important stations on the line were Stourport-on-Severn, Bewdley, Arley, Highley, Hampton Loade, Bridgnorth, Coalport, Ironbridge and Broseley, Buildwas, Cressage and Berrington. The original Severn Valley Railway was absorbed into the Great Western Railway in the 1870s, and in 1878 a link line was constructed from Bewdley to Kidderminster. This meant trains could run direct from the Black Country to areas of Shropshire. Most Kidderminster to Bewdley trains continued through the Wyre Forest line (dismantled in the 1960s and now a popular walking route) to Tenbury Wells or Woofferton. At Buildwas Junction (now the site of Ironbridge Power Station near what is now Telford) Severn Valley trains connected with services from Wellington to Much Wenlock and Craven Arms.
Prior to preservation, the Severn Valley line was never financially successful. Freight traffic, mostly agricultural, and coal traffic from the collieries of Alveley and Highley were the principal sources of revenue. The line was strategically useful in the Second World War as a by-pass around the West Midlands.
After nationalisation in 1948, passenger traffic started to dwindle. The line was closed to through passenger and freight services in 1963 and the track north of Bridgnorth was dismantled. Whilst it is generally believed that the line was closed under the “Beeching Axe” of the 1960s, the Severn Valley Line was, in fact, already scheduled for closure prior to the release of Beeching’s 1962 report. After 1963, coal traffic survived south of Alveley until 1969, while a sparse passenger service continued to link Bewdley with Kidderminster and Hartlebury, until this too ceased in January 1970.
Today, a very small section of the original Severn Valley line continues to carry coal traffic to Ironbridge Power Station.
For much of its working life it was operated by the Great Western Railway and subsequently the Western Region of British Railways. Today the Severn Valley Railway operates as a heritage railway. Services began in 1970 from Bridgnorth to Hampton Loade, extending to Bewdley in 1974 and Kidderminster in 1984.
Bridgnorth Station is the northern terminus of the Severn Valley Railway, situated in an historic Shropshire market town surrounded by countryside and disected by the River Severn.
The main station building is Grade II listed – the only one of its kind on the Railway – and the whole station site is in the conservation area. The station’s history is a modest intermediate stop on the Worcester – Shrewsbury line, and originally built on made-up land due to its geology and proximity to the river. The site is therefore somewhat restricted and linear, and not designed for easy vehicular access, or visitor parking.
The station is run predominantly by volunteers – from all walks of life – and some are not even train enthusiasts, but enjoy the friendly atmosphere. The licensed refreshment room, now known as The Railwaymans Arms, has stayed open for business throughout the station’s history, being first opened in 1861.
Being the spiritual home of the preserved Severn Valley Railway – where the restoration commenced in 1963, the station is a special place to many members and volunteers. There is a unique atmosphere resulting from the wide range of activity that is fitted into the site.
Bridgnorth Station was opened by the original Severn Valley Railway in 1862, as the main intermediate station between Hartlebury Junction and Shrewsbury.
The original Severn Valley Railway Company was absorbed by the Great Western Railway and then in 1948 by British Railways (Western Region). Closure between Shrewsbury and Bewdley came in 1963.
In 1965 the Severn Valley Railway Society was formed by a group of railway enthusiasts who met in The Coopers Arms in Kidderminster. Initial efforts succeeded in raising 25% of the £25,000 purchase price for the closed five-mile section of the Severn Valley line from Bridgnorth to Alveley Colliery. By 1967 the first rolling stock – an engine and four coaches – had been received.
The next three years were spent restoring the line to operating condition, and obtain the legal authority, a Light Railway Order, from the Department of Environment, gained only after experiencing considerable difficulties. The section from Bridgnorth to Hampton Loade was opened for public passenger services in May 1970, and the remainder of the purchase price was paid shortly afterwards.
Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) PLC
The Railway Station
Telephone: 01299 403816