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Minister pushes the ‘delete’ button on the SVR’s ’industrial eyesore’ (29th June 2012)

Minister pushes the ‘delete’ button on the SVR’s ’industrial eyesore’

ONE of the most distinctive - but least beautiful - landmarks which passengers see during a ride on the Severn Valley Railway, is about to disappear forever.

The two giant concrete silos adjacent to the A451 Stourport Road bridge in Kidderminster - the mortal remains of the British Sugar Corporation factory which closed in 2002 - will be demolished over the next few days, following a symbolic ‘first swipe’ at the 230ft-high towers yesterday (Thursday) by Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Eric Pickles, using specialist demolition machinery.

The former Chairman of the Conservative Party who is also MP for Brentwood & Ongar (Essex), rode to the former BSC site – soon to become the new South Kidderminster Enterprise Park – on a special Severn Valley steam train from Bewdley yesterday, hauled by GWR ‘Prairie’ tank No.4566.

He met railway staff, got a first viewing of a model of the West Midland Safari Park’s proposed new development which includes an interchange station on the SVR connecting into the Safari Park’s own internal monorail system, and learned of plans for another Severn Valley Railway halt serving the development of 250 new houses, hotels, pubs, business and industrial premises destined to be built on the 70-acre British Sugar site, where, it is said, 430 new jobs will be created.

Embraced by Wyre Forest District Council’s ‘ReWyre Initiative’, and in partnership with the St.Francis Group which specialises in managing the regeneration of previously contaminated industrial land, the South Kidderminster Enterprise Park is being part-funded to the tune of £2.5 million, by Worcestershire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) which has contributed half of that sum, and Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEPs, which have together contributed the other half.

It was the cessation of rail traffic to and from ‘The Beet’  - the local nickname for the sugar beet processing plant - in October 1982 which allowed the SVR to take over the derelict line, and complete the final part of its progressive extension from Bridgnorth into Kidderminster in 1984. The BSC factory once had a very extensive ‘internal’ railway system, with its own stud of steam locomotives.