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Full steam ahead for Severn Valley Railway gala

By Rebecca Sayce | Wyre Forest entertainment | Published:

More than 7,000 people are expected to attend the Autumn Steam Gala bid at the Severn Valley Railway this weekend and staff and volunteers are hoping to steam to success and raise £1 million through shares for a major development.

The hugely-popular season finale event, which started today(September 21) and which runs until Sunday(September 24), has been chosen as the perfect springboard for the last month of campaigning in the share offer programme to fund the transformation of Bridgnorth Station, the biggest redevelopment project in the railway’s history.

However, time is running out and the share offer must close on October 31 and the railway still needs to raise £1 million to reach its £2.5 million target.

The project aims to provide much-improved visitor facilities, while conserving and enhancing the historic station, encouraging more people to start their journey from Bridgnorth to travel along the line to Kidderminster, further boosting the local economy.

Share offer teams will be on hand throughout the Gala, taking applications and explaining the ambitious project and travel benefits on offer to those who buy shares.

Photograph F Richards. Bluebell No.564 which will be taking to the tracks for the Autumn Steam Gala.

Clare Gibbard, the railway's marketing and communications manager, said: “Our flagship steam event is the perfect opportunity to showcase the railway and to shout about our fantastic plans for Bridgnorth.

“Time is now tight, but we still really hope to reach our £2.5million target, enabling us to protect, conserve and enhance this wonderful station for future generations.”

Famed for its visiting locomotive line-up, this year’s Autumn Steam Gala will feature No.564 Great Eastern Railway Y14, courtesy of the M&GN Joint Railway Society & North Norfolk Railway, the only one of the 289 of its class built to survive into preservation.

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One of only eight built, four of which survive today, No.323 Bluebell appears thanks to Bluebell Railway Plc. and is expected to be a real passenger favourite.

A Royal visitor is also to be featured and No. 2 Prince, a Small England class, appears thanks to the Ffestiniog Railway. Named in honour of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales, later King Edward VII.

Prince may also be a familiar face to railway visitors, having spent a year on display in The Engine House Visitor Centre in 2011.

Built in 1934, No. 926 Repton, a Southern Railway Schools class, completes the visiting quartet, thanks to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

Gala visitors can also see the last Gala appearance of the resident No. 7812 Erlestoke Manor before it is overhauled.

All-night steam train running, breakfast trains, brake van rides, autotrains, Victorian narrow-gauge steam train rides and morning shunting demonstrations as well as an intensive steam train service will be on offer.

Rebecca Sayce

By Rebecca Sayce
@becci_star

Entertainment journalist for Express & Star and Shropshire Star. Contact me: rebecca.sayce@expressandstar.co.uk

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