The men who steamed in to build Severn Valley Railway

Entertainment | Published:

When these stalwarts celebrated a milestone in the Severn Valley Railway's history little did they know how successful the attraction would become.

They were marking the 21st anniversary of the momentous decision to re-open the line,which was shut just prior to the Beeching Axe in 1963.

Keith, Jeremy Colborn, Columb, Chris, Ray Plackett in 2015

A meeting at the Coopers Arms public house in Kidderminster on July 6, 1965 resulted in the formation of the Severn Valley Railway Society.

It took five years of effort and intensive fundraising before the first five-mile section of the 16-mile line, between Bridgnorth and Hampton Loade, was bought and the railway opened for passenger services again in May 1970 following a successful period of fundraising.

In 1974, a further eight miles of track was opened to passengers, with trains stopping at Highley, Arley and Bewdley.

Ten years later the line was line was finally completed with the return of the service to Kidderminster and the launch of a brand new station. More than £400,000 was raised to purchase the sections of line and fund the services.

Since then the Kidderminster to Bridgnorth line has become one of the region's biggest tourist attractions welcoming around 300,000 passengers a year.

Reopening of the SVR from Bridgnorth to Hampton Loade


The celebration event, held in July 1986, saw about 30 of the 50 founding members retrace their steps to the pub and take an anniversary ride along the tracks.

Pictured from the left outside the station at Kidderminster are five founding members, John Garth, deputy chairman of the holdings company, Chris George, Keith Beddoes, Bert Cleaver and Columb Howell, with Major Peter Olver. At the rear is station master Malcolm Broadhurst.

Major Olver, an inspecting officer with the Department of Transport, cut the 21st anniversary cake, which was a model of the locomotive Eastbury Grange.

An atmospheric shot of Bridgnorth railway station in 1968


There were to be many more milestones for the railway and last year saw an even bigger celebration marking 50 years of that first meeting at the Coopers Arms.

Founding members gathered to mark the anniversary which had special meaning for one of them as he was the man who started the ball rolling when he launched an appeal for rail enthusiasts to rally round.

Keith Beddoes, from Randlay, Telford, was inspired by the re-opening of a branch of the Bluebell Line in Sussex. He put out an advert, called a meeting to draw up a rescue plan and the rest as they say is history. Speaking at last year's celebration event at Kidderminster Railway Station, he recalled the events of 1965: "We were just a group of ordinary people who didn't know each other, yet there was such a sense of excitement between us at what we had taken on. "

Next month the railway becomes one of the first heritage lines in the country to host the Flying Scotsman, following its £4.2 million renovation at its Autumn Gala from September 22 to 25.


Top Stories


More from the Express & Star

UK & International News