39 Steps

21 March 1978, filming of a scene for The 39 Steps involved No 46443 dressed as Midland Railway 644 making an emergency stop on Victoria Bridge. The Rank Organisation film featured Robert Powell as Richard Hannay, Karen Dotrice as Alex and John Mills as Colonel Scudder.

The railway sequence was set in early 1914 and begins in the ticket office at London St Pancras Station. The action scenes used 46443 and five LMS carriages with ‘Midland’ stickers applied.

The scenes filmed on the SVR, which last around 5 minutes in total, include Hannay boarding the train (filmed on Bewdley island platform), a wide shot of the train passing the Spring Grove area, a distant shot passing Trimpley Reservoir, crossing Oldbury viaduct, a lineside shot west of Bewdley tunnel

After a cutaway to a short scene where his pursuers order all trains leaving St Pancras to be searched, the railway sequence continues with the train on Eardington bank, emerging from Arley Station Bridge having passed through the station at speed, passing Trimpley, passing through a station at speed, filmed from a footbridge over the line (Bewdley again).

Then police searching the train, the train approaching the bridge, where Hannay pulls the communication cord to bring it to an emergency stop, approaching Victoria Bridge, stopped on Victoria Bridge, the escape scene on the bridge, a parting shot of the train setting off through Eymore cutting, and Hannay climbing down from the bridge.

Some SVR volunteers were extras in the film and will have happy memories…

Average mileages

18 March 1953, in a paper read at the Institution of Locomotive Engineers based on figures gathered through 1952, Mr R C Bond, BR Chief Locomotive Construction & Maintenance Officer, listed the average mileages run between general overhauls of pre-nationalisation classes.

The Stanier Black Fives with manganese steel axlebox liners topped the list at 97,291 miles. Next came the LNER A1 class with roller bearings on all axles at 93,363 miles. Then came four Great Western Railway classes – Halls, Counties, Castles and 28XX – all at around 87,000 miles.

The Journal of the Institution of Locomotive Engineers volume 51 published in 1961 reported in No 281 J F Harrison’s Presidential Address:

Includes an appreciation of the Gresley Pacifics: Harrison had been born in Settle, and following a very brief appreciation of Midland Railway locomotives he noted that A3 Pacifics had taken over working the major express trains over the Settle & Carlisle Line with photographs of them at Ais Gill, and on the Thames Clyde Express.

He noted that the Peppercorn A1 Pacifics “were intended to give a better performance than any previous Pacific, to be cheaper to maintain, and to run increased mileages per annum and between general repairs.

These five locomotives, Nos. 60153/60154/60155/60156/60157, have now been in service for exactly twelve years, during which they have run 4.8 million miles, one in fact having just completed 1,000,000 miles, or 228 miles for every calendar day since leaving Doncaster as a new engine.

The average miles between shopping of these engines is 120,000, and these figures compare with figures given by Mr. R.C. Bond in his Paper to this Institution in 1953 showing the best London & North Eastern mileages in those days as 93,363 with average annual mileages of 80,000.

The total miles run by the fifty engines, including the five roller bearing engines, since new, is approximately 48,000,000, an average of 202 miles per calendar day-figures which I know cannot be approached by any steam locomotive class in this country. I will refer to this figure later in my Address.

When one realises that these locomotives are better than the A4 Class, examples of which took part in the interchange trials in 1948, and which attained the best coal and water consumption figures per drawbar horsepower/hour, one realises that these latter locomotives were, and in fact still are, perhaps the finest steam locomotives in the world.

For some 105 years the Great Northern and London & North Eastern Railway had only four Locomotive Engineers, all of whom have a position in history, but I suggest none more so than Gresley who was honoured by a knighthood in 1936.

Surely there is a lesson to be learned from this continuance of a single policy for periods of up to twenty-five years each. This has been noticeable also on the Great Western Railway.

It is, therefore, with great pleasure that I pay this modest and brief tribute to the late Sir Herbert Nigel Gresley, who cannot be by-passed as the greatest Locomotive Engineer in this country in the 20th century if one judges these matters on the performance of the designer’s products over such a lengthy period of time.

It is surprising, however, to see that the British Transport Commission have only thought fit to preserve amongst their historic locomotives two examples of this great Engineer’s work, and then neither of the first two Pacifics he ever built.”


On 16 March 2008 Collett Mogul 7325 was propelled into the newly-built Engine House as its first resident.

The opportunity to create such a building arose when the old Highley Colliery sidings and landsale yard went up for auction in 2001 and SVRH secured the land for £35,000.

It was originally conceived as a simple storage building to house out of ticket engines under cover. But by increasing the focus into education, essential grant funding was secured.

Inevitably with the geological factors, and the old mine and quarry workings, the ground stability was challenging, and hence costly. Construction began in 2006 and involved hillside grading, soil nailing stabilisation, old mine workings grouted, and a large retaining wall construction. 120 piles up to 15 metres deep were sunk and tied together by beams cast in reinforced concrete.

So 7325 and its fellow residents remain secure and weather proofed awaiting their time for overhaul – including GWR 4566, 5764, 7819, LMS 46443, 47383, 48773 and TPO 80300, Royal Coach 798.

Also on this day,

in 1972, a contract between the newly formed SVRH and the Guarantee Company set out the terms of asset transfers from the H to the G

in 1988, BR 4345 Tourist Standard Open arrived on the SVR from Carnforth

Steam on the main line

On 14 March 1981

the first public main line excursion from Bridgnorth – the 11 coach Severn Valley Crusader ran to Paddington, hauled to Bewdley by 7819 and 46521; two class 25s then took over

4930 took the Welsh Marches Express between Hereford and Newport

then in 1983,

BR 16267 Composite Corridor, arrived on SVR – built in 1963 at Derby, and the last Mk1 CK built – normally in the Crimson & Cream set, owned by SVRCT

and BR 4545 Tourist Standard Open arrived on SVR – built in 1956 at York – seats 64 at tables with three cross-vestibules to enable speedier loading

and in 1985, GWR 83831 Loco Coal Wagon arrived on SVR – built in 1931 at Swindon


On 8 March 1969, GWR Banana Van 82554 arrived from Worcester.

It was originally built as a Mink A goods van to diagram V12, lot 576 at Swindon in 1908, and converted to the Fruit B in 1925, which involved removal of vents, and installation of insulation and end-centre shuttered louvre. It has a capacity of 10 tons.

Fruit B banana vans were built to transport bananas – with insulated bodies and fitted with steam heating to allow bananas to be shipped green and ripen en-route.

In GWR telegraphic code, Mink was a covered goods van and Fruit is obvious. The extra letter identifies variations, so the Mink A was a 16ft ventilated van versus the Mink G being a 21ft ordinary van.

82554 ended working life at Worcester, and was restored for storage use at SVR Bewdley. Following a major overhaul by the Wagon Dept completed in 1994, it is mostly used at BH MPD for storage.

GWR 4786

On 6 March 1926 GWR 4786 Full Third was completed at Swindon, one of 279 such carriages built between 1925 and 1929.

4786 is a Collett designed Bow-Ended 57ft full third coach, built to seat 64 passengers in eight compartments, with a side corridor and a toilet cubicle at each end. Having worked main line long distance services, and then cross country, it was withdrawn in 1960 and modified for S&T use at Shrewsbury. SVRH bought it in 1986 from the Coleham Depot.

Now owned by GW(SVR)A it is being returned to the fully lined GW livery to join the 1920s GW set.


On 2 March 1985 75069 had its first main line outing in preservation. Having been built in BR’s Swindon Works in 1955, it was appropriate that the Red Dragon tour’s route was Newport, Swindon and Gloucester.

75069 is a BR Standard 4MT 4-6-0, designed by Robert Riddles. As a Standard 4MT its use was mixed traffic on secondary routes, and was one of the final batch allocated to BR Southern Region, but after just 11 years in service it was withdrawn in September 1966. Its tender carries 4,250 gallons of water, and some 7 tons of coal.

Also on 2 March, in 1974 Highley signal box was brought back into use, with the commissioning of the token equipment according to the Electric Train Token regulations.

Jackfield Halt

March 1 1954 saw the reopening of Jackfield Halt platform and shelter in its new location.

The halt had originally opened on 3 December 1934, midway between Coalport and Ironbridge. Unfortunately the site was on unstable ground – made worse by the clay mining history of the area.

Problems with subsidence arose over the years, culminating in a major landslide in spring 1952. The line and halt slumped 25 feet towards the river and many houses were also destroyed.

The halt platform and shelter were rebuilt a quarter mile to a position east of the sidings, but needed a 5 mph restriction and regular realignment and re-ballasting.

Also on this day in 1856, a meeting of interested parties was held at Bridgnorth in an attempt to attract new shareholders.


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.