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Bridgnorth goes carnival with railway station gala (12th June 2012)

BRIDGNORTH STATION, northern terminus of the 16-mile Severn Valley Railway, goes carnival this weekend (June 16th & 17th) with its own special gala as part of this year’s celebrations to mark the line’s 150th anniversary.

It’s only the second time that Bridgnorth Station, birthplace of the SVR preservation scheme in 1965, has had its own dedicated gala - the first was last year - and while admission to the host of displays and exhibitions is free, the volunteers who man and maintain the 1862-built station are hoping that donations from visitors will enable them to complete the replacement of 1950s era concrete lamp-posts with replica Victorian-period ‘gas lamps’.

Some £30,000 from the coffers of the ‘Bridgnorth Station Fund’ has already been spent replacing 14 of the 15 concrete lamp posts,  and erecting four ‘corner-bracket’ gas lamps to station buildings, though as Bridgnorth Assistant Station Master and SVR company director Chris Thomas asserts: “The upkeep and maintenance of the station is a never-ending task. When we’ve finished the platform lighting, we have all of the Station Approach to do!”

Engines will dominate this weekend’s gala – though not perhaps in the way most visitors might imagine.

Two completely new, full-size steam locomotives being built at Bridgnorth – a British Railways ‘82000’ Class 2-6-2 branch line tank engine for future use on the SVR, and the replica of Trevithick’s ultimate locomotive ‘Catch Me Who Can’, the original of which was built at the Bridgnorth foundry of Messrs Rastrick & Hazeldine in 1808, will be rolled out for public assessment of ‘progress so far’.

In addition to the regular Bridgnorth - Kidderminster steam passenger service which sees four engines in use, Bridgnorth visitors will also see ‘live steam’ in the  shape of at least ten 7¼-inch gauge locomotives, operated on their own line by members of Wolverhampton Model Engineering Society, displays of miniature traction and stationary engines, and also model railway layouts in both ‘OO’ gauge and the larger ‘O’ gauge, including one based on Bridgnorth station itself.

And for good measure, the railway will roll out its celebrity vintage ‘Velocipede’ – an ancient pump-action outrigger track vehicle, used by Victorian railway engineers as personal transport for track-inspection duties.

The story of the SVR’s first 150 years (the first train ran from Worcester to Shrewsbury on February 1st 1862) is told in an exhibition of old photographs, documents and ephemera in the Waiting Room on Platform 2, put together by local ladies Val Plante and Ann Chadwick, after countless hours of research in local libraries, newspaper, and county records offices.
Daily ‘Freedom of the Line’ tickets valid for use on all trains cost £16.50 adult, £8.50 child, or £44 family (2 adults + 4 children), but prices are discounted for on-line pre-booking. Go to http://www.svr.co.uk/TicketOffice.aspx