Severn Valley in 1961

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Yorkshire222

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Just read an article in the April 1961 Trains Illustrated magazine describing the Severn Valley line. The line was still complete with a number of other branch lines coming off it back then. What a wonderful trip that would have made to travel all the way from Kidderminster to Shrewsbury! You could spend a week in the area exploring different lines. No mention in the article that it could be closed (1963 closed to passengers) though the official announcement that the line was under review wasn't made until Jan 1962.
 
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Calthrop

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Indeed; oh, to have been in those parts, with sufficient quantities of time and money -- I'll say, seventy years ago: when the whole of the connecting, reputedly rurally delightful, Buildwas -- Much Wenlock -- Craven Arms branch still had a passenger service (its Much Wenlock -- Craven Arms section closed to passengers in 1951). A similarly delectable route was, I gather, that westward from Bewdley to Tenbury Wells and Woofferton: lost its passenger services in stages, 1961 / 62 -- just a little earlier than Bewdley -- Shrewsbury. This line also connected with the wondrously back-of-beyond Cleobury Mortimer -- Ditton Priors branch: an independent company until the Grouping, passenger service withdrawn by the GWR shortly before World War II, but remaining in use for War Department traffic and general freight, again until the early 1960s.

I'm given to understand that at the inception of the Severn Valley rail preservation undertaking, track was still down between Bewdley and Tenbury Wells: for a while, it was a "toss-up" as to whether the preservation society would / should acquire Bewdley to Bridgnorth, or the Tenbury line. Just a personal thing of mine: while recognising that the SVR is a magnificent preserved line, I find it as a route to travel, just slightly monotonous -- fine scenery, but ongoingly the same, along the riverside mile after mile. Cannot help the occasional twinge of wishing that things had so worked out that the Tenbury route (piers of whose bridge across the Severn, just out of Bewdley, can -- I believe -- still be seen today from passing SVR trains) had been chosen by the society, instead. This line's route looks, from the map, full of delight; though some opine that it would actually not have offered so wonderful a ride as all that -- comprising as it would, lengthy "samey" plodding through the Wyre Forest. Probably just an instance of the well-known perverse thing by which an abandoned line on which one never travelled, always looks and feels more enticing than its still-in-use immediate neighbour !
 

muddythefish

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Severn Valley as I understand it also had a chance to buy the Bewdley - Stourport - Hartlebury section but wasn't in a position to go ahead. By the chance they got to Bewdley in 1974 it was too late and the trackbed had begun to be sold off. The railway of course extended to Kidderminster instead in 1984 IIRC. The stub of the old Stourport branch (actually the original SVR) is still there as far as the tunnel, with houses built over the trackbed into Stourport on the other side. Bewdley with steam trains arriving from 4 directions would have wonderful.
 

DelW

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... A similarly delectable route was, I gather, that westward from Bewdley to Tenbury Wells and Woofferton: lost its passenger services in stages, 1961 / 62 -- just a little earlier than Bewdley -- Shrewsbury...

...Cannot help the occasional twinge of wishing that things had so worked out that the Tenbury route (piers of whose bridge across the Severn, just out of Bewdley, can -- I believe -- still be seen today from passing SVR trains) had been chosen by the society, instead...
I have a childhood memory of a day trip from our house in north Birmingham to Bewdley, and my standing on the river bank with my fishing net*, watching a DMU head out of Bewdley across that bridge. It would have been before August 1961, when we moved house, and I think it was a bubble car, though I might be wrong on that. I'm unsure now whether we went by train or in my parents' newly acquired Morris Minor.

The bridge piers are indeed still there, clearly visible on Google satellite view.

* I caught a tiny fish, and was allowed to take it home in a jam jar, which made a bigger impression at that age than did the exact type of train!
 

Calthrop

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@DelW -- might it conceivably even have been an ex-GWR diesel railcar -- type with basically curved / sloping ends -- which type saw, so I understand, much use on this route at one time? -- or would that be simply too far into the wish-fulfilment department?

(I learn from Wiki, that the bridge concerned was called Dowles Bridge: spans dismantled in 1964 -- which might cast some doubt on the idea which is around, referred to upthread, that the Tenbury Wells route was for a while a rival of the Bridgnorth one, for preservation.)
 

Merle Haggard

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I'm given to understand that at the inception of the Severn Valley rail preservation undertaking, track was still down between Bewdley and Tenbury Wells: for a while, it was a "toss-up" as to whether the preservation society would / should acquire Bewdley to Bridgnorth, or the Tenbury line.

I was slightly involved with the SVR about 1968 (I bought an LMS coach & kept it there). I don't think that the original group had any other intention than to buy the present route, but about the time I was there a young man floated the idea of reopening the Tenbury Wells line. My recollection is that he might have been disenchanted with the SVR (perhaps he thought that they didn't appreciate his many talents) and was more a rival scheme rather than an alternative. There was also talk of re-opening the CM&DP but I can't remember whether this was related.
There's a hard-back book about the history of the preserved line written in the 80s and that would perhaps give the details.
Like all organisations there was a number of different groups on the early SVR, not always pursuing the same goals.

I think that, later the SVR bought the remaining track (or possibly sleepers) on the branch for re-use, and of course they own the trackbed for a short distance; it still has track down until the routes diverge and some gala days a DMU is run to the end (as well as the stump towards Droitwich S of Bewdley which they also own) for the ardent route-basher.
 

Calthrop

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Thanks -- this goes a long way towards making sense of a matter which I'd started to feel did so dubiously, if at all.

Re stubs of line still in place at Bewdley: cue here for shameless bragging on my part -- although I never did the Severn Valley line under BR, or the Tenbury route ("born too late" / lived too far away, and nothing took me in those times, to the West Midlands): I managed to cover the then still-open sections Bewdley -- Hartlebury and Bewdley -- Kidderminster, in 1969, not very many months before those passenger services were withdrawn in their turn by BR.
 

Taunton

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@DelW -- might it conceivably even have been an ex-GWR diesel railcar -- type with basically curved / sloping ends -- which type saw, so I understand, much use on this route at one time? -- or would that be simply too far into the wish-fulfilment department?
1961, that would have been quite likely, this series of lines were a last bastion of the GWR single-unit railcars, from a depot at Worcester; the Thames valley branches run from Southall was their other location by then. Some repainted in dmu green, others in crimson/cream to the end.
 

Calthrop

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1961, that would have been quite likely, this series of lines were a last bastion of the GWR single-unit railcars, from a depot at Worcester; the Thames valley branches run from Southall was their other location by then. Some repainted in dmu green, others in crimson/cream to the end.

(My bolding) -- this brings to mind for me, a thread (A BR [Western Region] puzzle...) which I started on 22/1/2018, on "Railway History & Nostalgia". Was seeking there for informational help for a friend of mine who in his early teens, spent time in summer 1959 or '60, at Wargrave, in sight (in the middle distance) of the Henley-on-Thames branch: witnessed on that line, in between steam workings, single-unit diesel cars in traffic. He was then-and-there, neither physically close-to; nor as "detail-savvy" railway-wise as he became in later years: wondered decades later whether the single units were ex-GWR railcars, BR "bubble-cars", or some of each. It was generally figured in the thread proceeding from that OP of mine, that the likelihood of GWR cars having featured, was high.
 

DelW

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@DelW -- might it conceivably even have been an ex-GWR diesel railcar -- type with basically curved / sloping ends -- which type saw, so I understand, much use on this route at one time? -- or would that be simply too far into the wish-fulfilment department?

1961, that would have been quite likely, this series of lines were a last bastion of the GWR single-unit railcars, from a depot at Worcester; the Thames valley branches run from Southall was their other location by then. Some repainted in dmu green, others in crimson/cream to the end.
In my mind, it was a BR bubble car in green with "whiskers", and with the exhaust up the cab end - but at this distance in time I'm not sure whether than has been mixed in from another memory. My father was a great fan of the GWR and had it been a GWR unit, I think that might have stuck in my mind more definitely. The river, the bridge and the fish in a jam jar are much clearer memories though :)
 

Calthrop

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Childhood memories can be maddeningly vague and tricky, can't they? I'd give a lot, for a fair few rail-related ones of mine to be clarified / "certainised".
 

Sprinter107

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While class 122s regularly worked up the SVR line, (as did 3 car class 116s as far as Bridgnorth on summer Sundays), the Tenbury line was never worked by dmus. GW railcars worked that line. However, the BRCW used the line to test the 110 dmus, a pic of one of those on the Tenbury line is in the Wild Swan publication, and I think some of the 104s may have been tested across there also.
 

DelW

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While class 122s regularly worked up the SVR line, (as did 3 car class 116s as far as Bridgnorth on summer Sundays), the Tenbury line was never worked by dmus. GW railcars worked that line. However, the BRCW used the line to test the 110 dmus, a pic of one of those on the Tenbury line is in the Wild Swan publication, and I think some of the 104s may have been tested across there also.
Hmm, interesting, so the strong probability is that it would have been a GWR railcar, which I wasn't aware of ever having seen in pre-preservation times; but with the outside possibility of a DMU, since I've no idea whether it was in service or not at the time. Maybe I'll have to try hypnosis to try and clarify the picture!
 

Calthrop

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Yes, hypnosis, concerning such puzzles from one's earliest years: I've mused at times on perhaps trying that, to retrieve and fill out vague memories of early-1950s railway experiences of mine !
 

Bevan Price

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The last GWR railcars were withdrawn during August & October 1962, with some of the last survivors based at Worcester, so they were probably used on the Severn Valley during 1961.
My only trip between Hartlebury & Shrewsbury was in about Autumn 1963, with a Class 122 Bubblecar. We passed a southbound passenger service which had an Ivatt Class 2MT 41241.
 

Merle Haggard

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I'm given to understand that at the inception of the Severn Valley rail preservation undertaking, track was still down between Bewdley and Tenbury Wells: for a while, it was a "toss-up" as to whether the preservation society would / should acquire Bewdley to Bridgnorth, or the Tenbury line. Just a personal thing of mine: while recognising that the SVR is a magnificent preserved line, I find it as a route to travel, just slightly monotonous -- fine scenery, but ongoingly the same, along the riverside mile after mile. Cannot help the occasional twinge of wishing that things had so worked out that the Tenbury route (piers of whose bridge across the Severn, just out of Bewdley, can -- I believe -- still be seen today from passing SVR trains) had been chosen by the society, instead. This line's route looks, from the map, full of delight; though some opine that it would actually not have offered so wonderful a ride as all that -- comprising as it would, lengthy "samey" plodding through the Wyre Forest. Probably just an instance of the well-known perverse thing by which an abandoned line on which one never travelled, always looks and feels more enticing than its still-in-use immediate neighbour !

I've now found my copy of the book about the Severn Valley Railway and it amplifies and corrects my previous answer. I'll quote the relevant paragraph about the origins of the preservation scheme.

"An idea for the preservation of the railway was already in the mind of a Kidderminster resident, Keith Beddoes, who had inspected it at Bridgnorth and Hampton Loade in April 1965 and who had made tentative enquiries. He had also considered the alternative idea of preserving the Tenbury line b between Cleobury Mortimer and Bewdley, but this was unsuitable because BR could not allow access into Bewdley station at that time. A third possibility the Cleobury Mortimer & Ditton Priors Light railway, was unsuitable because of its light axle load limits and remoteness. Bridgnorth to Hampton Loade seemed ideal'

So there we have it, but it was one man's decision - the reference to access to Bewdley was of course because BR still ran to and from Alveley Colliery. And, although the CD&P was 'uncoloured' I've seen a GWR map which shows the SVR route as 'Yellow'...
 
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