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Severn Valley Railway celebrates award after triumphant jubilee weekend

The Severn Valley Railway has received an award for its ‘resilience and innovation’ - beating off competition from visitor attractions across the UK.

 Severn Valley Railway Bridgnorth Jubilee day. In Picture: The Purple 'Elizabeth II' train arrives in Bridgnorth
Severn Valley Railway Bridgnorth Jubilee day. In Picture: The Purple 'Elizabeth II' train arrives in Bridgnorth

The heritage railway was named as the winner of VisitEngland’s bronze award for Resilience and Innovation.

A ceremony took place at the Library of Birmingham on Wednesday evening, which saw representatives from a number of tourist attractions attend and was hosted by Clare Balding CBE.

Meanwhile SVR saw 'excellent' ticket sales during the Platinum Jubilee weekend, with nearly 5,000 visitors travelling to the railway for its four-day event.

It opened with the public re-naming of locomotive No. 34027 as ‘Elizabeth II’, complete with its new number ‘70’, decorated especially to mark the occasion.

Crowds at SVR's jubilee weekend

Under sunny skies and with a platform packed with visitors, the Severn Valley Railway holdings chairman kicked off the celebrations with a speech dedicated to staff member Ronan O'Brien.

Mike Ball said: "Ronan led the team very much hands on. He hand painted this locomotive which I think you’ll agree it looks magnificent."

Managing director Helen Smith, Viscount Cobham and Mark Younger of Taw Valley Ltd, which owns the locomotive, also addressed the crowd before it was christened with a bottle of champagne.

The locomotive was not the only Elizabeth present on the railway for the bank holiday weekend, as more than 200 Elizabeth's attended throughout the event, taking advantage of SVR’s ‘Elizabeths go free’ initiative.

The Severn Valley Railway had extensive coverage of the event on local and national news, including the BBC One Show and experienced larger-than-expected sales in cafes, pubs and shops.

Post-visit survey results showed that 71 per cent of visitors had come with the specific purpose of seeing the purple loco, and 41 per cent of them had never visited the SVR before.

Michael Dunn, head of visitor experience, said: “Whilst this weekend was a little bit ‘out there’ when it comes to our usual heritage offer, consumer demand is changing and weekends like this one offered access to a new group of people who wouldn't usually come.

“I am confident they will return to the railway in future, and that we have engaged with a new generation and type of enthusiast.

“The publicity we have received will feed into a much bigger result over the coming weeks and months and allow us to fight against current short-term challenges and build a stronger foundation for our long-term aim, which is to continue raising funds to put back into the heritage preservation that the Severn Valley Railway is renowned for.

"Being brave enough to do something ‘different’ as a united SVR Family will benefit us in the long run.”

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