Feb 28 1973 saw the first stage of the Light Railway Order for the southern end of the line come into effect.

The Order granted BR the power to operate as a Light Railway (under the Light Railways Act 1896). The Order was then transferred to SVR in 1974.

It covered the existing boundary at Alveley to a point 247 yards east of the Stourport Road Bridge. Power was also granted to operate over the Stourport Branch from Bewdley to a point 302 yards south of the southern portal of Mount Pleasant Tunnel.

Previously on this day,

In 1872 the GWR Board approved the provision of a single needle telegraph instrument at Eardington – presumably to control traffic in the loop siding

In 1894 the GWR proposed to make Coalport a crossing station, with a second platform and additional sidings.

tracking the bypass

On Feb 27 1983, the track was relaid on the new bypass bridge.

The steelwork was delivered in the first week of 1983 and installed during January and the concrete pour was 9 February.

The first vehicle over the bridge was the 6-ton steam crane. The next morning the Red Ruston was the first diesel locomotive to cross.

43106, 80079 and 4930 returned from main line duties at Hereford on the same day and became the first steam locomotives to cross the new bridge.

The bridge was completed in time for the line to re-open for the 1983 season. However construction of the bypass required lowering the B4555 Highley road to pass underneath it, and consequently increasing the height of the railway embankment. Less than two months later, the embankment collapsed a few yards beyond the bridge. Shropshire County Council and the SVR worked jointly for 14 hours a day seven days a week to reopen the line three weeks later.

4.50 from Paddington

On Feb 25 1987, Miss Marple’s 4.50 from Paddington was first broadcast, filmed on SVR.

It included multiple locos, and the use of the relaid section of the Stourport branch, which was necessary to film the sequences of parallel running trains. In the main scene 80079 hauled the 4.33 stopping all stations to Brackhampton, and 6960 hauled the 4.50. Then in another scene 4566 was filmed in the area of the safari park curve. Brackhampton was Bewdley platform 2, and the compartment they alighted from was on GWR 5883. Filming was from the Bewdley South signal box window, and the compartment window.

And on Feb 26 1858, at a special general meeting of the Severn Valley Railway Company, 19thc version, shareholder approval was given to the tender for the contract to construct the SVR branch – the lowest cost option.

As a result the Abandonment Bill was withdrawn and a Bill was enacted on 23 July to extend the time allowed for completion. Construction began in early August, with a new deadline of 23 July 1861.


Our own Victoria Bridge is in good company. Its designer John Fowler became engineer to the Severn Valley Railway v1 in 1855.

He was a civil engineer specialising in the construction of railways, and in 1853 became chief engineer for the world’s first underground Metropolitan Railway, built with the cut and cover method under the streets (which earned him some £152k, now worth £13.9M), and the District Railway and Hammersmith and City Railway – now the majority of the Circle Line.

During his training he worked on the Aire and Calder Navigation, and the London and Brighton Railway with John Rastrick. With George Leather he was resident engineer on the Stockton and Hartlepool Railway, and appointed its engineer when it opened in 1841.

His client list included the Great Northern, the Highland, the Cheshire Lines, the East Lincs, and the OW&W. After I K Brunel’s death in 1859 he was retained by the Great Western Railway. His designs include London Victoria Station, Sheffield Victoria, Glasgow St Enoch, Liverpool Central, and Manchester Central where the 64m wide train shed roof was the second widest unsupported iron arch in Britain (after the roof of St Pancras).

His bridge designs include Grosvenor in the 1860s, the first railway bridge over the River Thames, and the 13-arch Dollis Brook Viaduct.

Our own Victoria Bridge was constructed 1859-61, and the near identical Edward Albert Bridge in nearby Coalbrookdale 1863-64.

When the Tay Bridge collapsed in 1879, Fowler and his partners Barlow and Harrison were appointed in 1881 to a commission to review the Bouch’s design for the Forth Bridge.

The recommendation was a steel cantilever, designed by Fowler and Baker, constructed 1883-1890. After its successful completion, Fowler was created a Baronet. Sir John Fowler 1st Baronet

Victoria Bridge on SVRWiki

planning the bypass

On this day in 1973 SVR’s civil engineer was instructed to begin preparation of a planning application for the bypass bridge.

An EGM of the Guarantee Company was held on 18 May 1973, with around 300 members who attended being asked if the Company should raise the money to build the bridge or abandon Bridgnorth. The decision was taken, with only one vote against, to build the bridge.

From reopening of the SVR in 1970, a proportion of fare revenue had been set aside in a dedicated trust fund to pay for the construction of this bridge. Further fund raising initiatives began following the EGM, and in 1974 an SVRA raffle raised around £800.

After some considerable delay, the SVR was informed by the County Council in early 1982 that the bypass was ‘all systems go’ and that the SVR would be required to fulfil their part of the Agreement and build the necessary bridge to carry the line over it. However an amicable agreement was reached between the SVR and Shropshire County Council, with the Council agreeing to make a substantial contribution towards the cost of the bridge

11 miles and 60 chains

The construction contract with Peto, Brassey and Betts followed Fowler’s specification which specified that cuttings and embankments were to be 30ft wide at formation level. For an additional payment of £20,000, all earthworks were to be built for double track. Tunnels were to be 24ft wide and not less than 16ft high at the centre and brick lined if the Engineer specified this was necessary. Bridgnorth Tunnel was to be built without shafts and without disturbing any buildings.

Although a clause in the contract that the railway should be built as a single line but with earthworks for double track for a consideration of an additional £20,000 was confirmed it was subsequently decided to defer the additional expenditure until traffic made doubling of the track necessary. In the event almost all bridges were built to double track capacity although Bridgnorth tunnel was only built to single track width.

Linear Measurement

1 Chain = 100 links or 66 feet

1 Mile = 80 chains or 5,280 feet

At a shareholders’ meeting on 23 February 1859, Fowler reported that; “…the acquisition of land for the purposes of the most important works on the line has been steadily attended to and the Contractors have placed men and materials on the ground as soon as they have had permission to do so. At the present time seven of the cuttings on the line have been completed and fourteen more are in progress. Ten of the bridges are also in progress, including the viaduct across the Stour at Stourport. A considerable number of rails and permanent way materials have been delivered.

The quantity of land actually in the hands of the Contractors at the present time is eleven miles and sixty chains but I am informed that a large additional quantity will be ready in a very short time. I see no reason to doubt that the line may be opened throughout on 1st October, 1860.

(Fowler’s estimates of the completion date were always optimistic, although he emphasised that they were dependent on the availability of land.)

Bypass for LRO

On 23 February 1970 the SVR entered into an Agreement with Salop County Council that the Company would dedicate the necessary land to build Bridgnorth Bypass, which would sever the line south of Bridgnorth. The SVR would then be responsible for construction of a bridge over the bypass. This agreement was necessary before the LRO could be granted to reopen the line.

before the bypass

Shropshire County Council had first announced plans for a bypass at Bridgnorth in around 1937, although by the 1960s no decision had been reached.

In response to BR’s application on 1 February 1968 for the first Light Railway Order, the Council objected on the grounds that it would add a further £60,000 to the cost of the bypass, were they to build it (for context, the SVR were negotiating with BR to buy the first section of the line for £25,000 at the time).

As the result of pressure from the Minister of Transport, SVR was advised to enter into an agreement with Shropshire County Council so that if and when the proposed bypass was authorised by the Department of the Environment, the SVR would dedicate the necessary land required by the Council to build the road, and then fund the building of the substantial bridge needed to keep Bridgnorth rail linked. The agreement enabled the LRO, so that public trains could run.

[By late 1972, with the bypass becoming a realistic prospect, concerns were mounting that Sir Gerald Nabarro could use this as a reason to abandon Bridgnorth… more on this another time]

Shovelling and barrowing

infill on the London Transport jacks

15 cubic meters (two truck loads) of ready mixed concrete got delivered yesterday for the infill on the LT jacks, the new cast iron storage outside and infill at the north end of the pit on road 2 in the yard.

100 batches in this would have been very time consuming!

Preparation had been going on for some time by our WW seconded team who had measured, cut, fitted, and checked the relevant areas:

Then the weekly loco missive requested ‘Assistance with shovelling, spreading, barrowing, compacting etc will be needed please’. Some 20 turned out to shovel, spread, barrow and compact.

cast iron storage outside – concrete pad for brake blocks and fire bars – note the rail reuse with concrete sleepers for the retaining wall

new concrete steps and infill at the north end of the pit on road 2 in the yard

Pete resting after a LOT of concrete shovelling!

The Wailing Wall team involved have now returned to their normal work, with relief – after a job very well done.

Parking the rail

The Wailing Wall Construction Company has tackled many jobs in its time, big and small. One of the more strenuous tasks is digging holes, and this was needed last month in preparation for the new ANPR parking control system that goes live after tomorrow.

The signs have to be mounted at very precise points and heights – all laid down in the planning consent (needed because of us being in the conservation area). Reusing rail lengths makes for very sturdy and appropriate posts. In this case they were cut by the PWay team to 3 yards apiece, and we needed five of them, weighing in at about 270lbs each.

To meet the specification, holes had to be dug 2ft6in deep, to support the height of the signs, and in the positions where there was no existing structure to fix to.

post in hole, concrete ready
next post on rollers
once more with feeling…
final post concreted in place

Availability of the rail meant we had no time to paint it before installing, which would have been much easier. Fortunately the weather was kind and the black gloss was quickly applied.

Andy painting the sign 3 post
sign 5 on a painted post
sign 1 with payment machine against cleaning cupboard
signage and lower payment machine
sign 4 against the signal box