In 2015, the Severn Valley Railway celebrates its 50th year, having been brought back to life in 1965 after the purchase of the line from British Rail. Since then, the Railway has developed into one of the best preserved railways in the country. The journey is full of interest, as the route follows closely the course of the River Severn for most of the way on its journey between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth.
Severn Valley Railway’s Kidderminster station
I visited the line on a sunny Saturday in June on a day when a food festival was being held in the Engine Shed at Highley station. I was accompanied by eldest son Jamie, and we were both pleasantly surprised at what a great day out the Severn Valley Railway is.
We arrived at Kidderminster station at around 09:00 after an uneventful hour and three-quarters journey by car. First impressions were good as we walked into the station, which looked like a scene from the early days of steam, but the station was, in fact, completed in 2006 and is based on an original Great Western Railway station.
Class 20 D8509 at Kidderminster
With almost an hour before the first train, a visit to the refreshment room was needed. The bacon and egg cob, washed down with a mug of black coffee, set me up for the day, and was very reasonably priced.
The first train of the day, the 09:55 to Bridgnorth, was scheduled to be diesel hauled, and to my surprise, the diesel turned out to be a class 20, one of my favourite old diesel locomotives. Before departure, there was time to photograph a number of engines manoeuvring into place for an intensive timetable including driver experiences, fish and chip special and a murder mystery train.
The journey to Bridgnorth was about 70 minutes and was a delightful journey along the Severn, passing along a route that contained very few roads, with Bewdley the only town along the 16 mile route. The train stops at the village stations of Arley, Highley and Hampton Loade, providing a vital connection between these rural settlements. The line also runs past the West Midlands Safari Park at Bewdley, and we saw elephants, a hippo, wildebeest and gazelle.
Mother and baby elephant at West Midlands Safari Park
Apart from the termini, the only station we alighted at was Highley, a quaint village station situated almost a mile from the village, although an excellent pub, The Swan, has great river views and is a short stroll down a steep path from the station. Also at Highley is the Engine House, an education centre opened in March 2008. It houses some of the railway’s out of service locomotives, wagons and coaches, as well as exhibits including railway artifacts and a film about the Severn Valley Railway. Amenities include a restaurant, gift shop and picnic area, with great views of the line.
In the Engine House was a food festival, with local suppliers selling various items including cheese, beer and vegetables. A nice place to break your journey, but not something to travel miles to visit.
Diesel multiple unit M50933 at Kidderminster
After several journeys up and down the line, we returned to Kidderminster on the last service train, in time to photograph the Diesel multiple unit forming the fish and chip special, as well as the dining train forming the murder mystery tour.
After a final visit to the excellent refreshment room at Kidderminster station, where I enjoyed possibly the best cheese salad sandwich I have every tasted, it was time to make the journey back home. The Severn Valley Railway is one place I will return to again.
A Flickr photo album of my visit to the Severn Valley Railway is available here.
- The Original Slogger (locoyard.com)
- Severn Valley Railway steams ahead with Spring Bank Holiday and half-term fun (birminghammail.co.uk)