Severn Valley Railway launches new interactive exhibits

Visitors to the Severn Valley Railway this half-term holiday will be the first to see a new, innovative mobile exhibition that lifts the lid on the history of the 158-year-old line.

Severn Valley Railway
Severn Valley Railway

The Engine House visitor centre at Highley will go deep into the lives of SVR folk over the centuries. Full size totem characters are set to give a rich insight into their experiences, and visitors can meet Sarah Woodward, a businesswoman who built her fortunes on the railway’s arrival, and Edward Wilson, the engineer who designed Falling Sands viaduct at Kidderminster.

There will be the chance for youngsters to build their own viaduct and try out being a navvy, transporting rocks with a shovel and wheelbarrow, plus a wardrobe of clothes for adults and children to dress up. There will also be a bat trail around The Engine House which people can follow to discover lots of facts about the history of the railway.

Meanwhile, a specially-adapted brake van which was restored last year at Kidderminster station, affectionately known as the Stove R, now contains interactive exhibits with the sounds, sights and smells of the railway over the years. Visitors will get a glimpse into the lives of a series of characters associated with the SVR, through voice recordings and diary entries.

Helen Smith, the railway’s general manager, said: “We’re getting ready to welcome thousands of visitors to the SVR this half-term, and our carefully designed excursion trips mean a full day of fun for everyone.

"We’re especially pleased to be able to launch the Stove R mobile exhibition this month, and think this is going to be a real hit with everyone who wants to know more about the history and background of our heritage railway.”

The new exhibitions have been made possible by funding from The National Lottery Heritage Fund, as part of a £1.3 million project to restore the SVR’s Falling Sands viaduct. Work on the viaduct itself continues, as contractors use rope access equipment to repair the brickwork and repoint the mortar on the outside of the structure.

Last week, the Severn Valley Railway announced it had been successful in securing £906,000 from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund, to help it through the next six months and the impact of the coronavirus on its operation and business.

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