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Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust wins £95,000 Heritage Lottery Fund support (26th February 2014)

Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust wins £95,000 Heritage Lottery Fund support

The Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust (SVR Charitable Trust) has won £95,000 to support one of Britain’s leading heritage railways. The Heritage Lottery Fund grant will help fund the restoration of the classic Great Western Railway (GWR) locomotive 4930 'Hagley Hall' which will be used as the learning and resource tool for the students and apprentices of the Severn Valley Railway’s Heritage Skills Training Academy based in Shropshire and Worcestershire.

After 27 years out of service, locomotive 4930 will be returned to the operational splendour of its GWR era for the general public to enjoy in full working order. The restoration of 4930 ’Hagley Hall’, named by the GWR after a local Worcestershire stately home, and being mainly locally based in the West Midlands during its working life, will be of considerable interest to the local community. Visitors will be able to follow its restoration to completion then experience at first-hand, a journey along the branch line in the same way as previous generations.

Maintaining its reputation as a pioneer, in September 2013 the SVR developed and launched a pilot Heritage Academy; an apprenticeship and training scheme for young people.

It is recognised that the SVR’s workshops are already well developed and seen as a centre of excellence by the Heritage Railway Association and other heritage railways, and the workshops will provide an excellent environment in which to learn under the tutelage of experts.

Trainee James Lewis, aged 18, started his apprenticeship in September 2013 moving from his home town of Swindon – home of the Museum of the Great Western Railway (GWR) – to Kidderminster.

He said the “best thing” about the apprenticeship is being able to indulge in my hobby every day.

The size of the restoration project, which will involve stripping the locomotive down to the last nut and bolt, will enable apprentices to experience and acquire a full range of heritage engineering skills.

Hugh McQuade, Chairman of the Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust, said: Whilst the Severn Valley Railway’s workforce consists of highly qualified and skilled staff and volunteers, it is ageing. Individuals with the requisite heritage skills, for example steam locomotive fitters or boilersmiths do not exist in the modern workplace and for the Railway to survive these time served skills need to be passed on to a younger generation. The HLF funding will therefore have far reaching benefits for the Railway now and into the future.”

The SVR is a leading, heritage railway attracting up to 250,000 visitors a year, employing a small number of paid staff, and is supported by a 1,300-strong group of working volunteers who give their time to run historic heritage steam and diesel trains, providing visitors with a memorable experience of the Golden Age of Travel.

Reyahn King, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands, said: “Visitors to the Severn Valley Railway will be delighted that a onetime static exhibit is a working locomotive once more. The project also provides volunteers and trainees with valuable restoration skills that will benefit the organisation in the future.”

Anyone wishing to donate to the Severn Valley Charitable Trust should visit www.svrtrust.org.uk