Exciting Times Ahead Tinged with Sorrow
The start of 2015 appeared to herald a memorable year ahead with the expected return to service of
Bradley Manor. Events are being arranged to celebrate this together with a 50 year commemoration in
November of the last days of Manor Class operations on the former Cambrian system. We also later
learned of an impending visit by HRH Princess to the SVR in April with a special train hauled by
Erlestoke Manor to commemorate 50 years of the SVR in preservation. Sadly all this was overshadowed
by the news that our much loved Trish Stevens had tragically lost her battle against the illness that she had contracted last autumn and which was mentioned in the last newsletter.
Trish Stevens – EMF Sales Coach and Bewdley Station
It is with great sadness that we announce that Trish Stevens sadly passed away on January 18th 2015 after a relatively short illness. She was well-known for her help and support of the Erlestoke Manor Fund, helping husband Graham in the shop and always being present at any fund-raising event, particularly on the annual EMF Obbo trips, where she always made everyone feel welcome and a personal friend. John and Joan Allen remembered “Trish was so helpful and made our journey on the obbo trips so special, always smiling”
Mother of three, step-mother to two, and with eight grand-children, she always did her best for all the family in spite, or maybe because of her own difficult childhood, and was determined that everyone should haveanything she could give. Similarly, she was a great and special friend to many on the railway, and will be greatly missed by those who have lost one of their dearest friends. The working groups at Bewdley will miss the lovely cakes she often baked for them. In addition to her work on the railway, and being a life-long animal lover, she also spent an increasing amount of time caring for and re homing feral cats as part of her work with the local branch of Cat Action Trust where she was also the branch treasurer.
The very moving funeral service in Kidderminster was attended by many EMF and SVR members and the family have expressed appreciation of the tremendous support of the SVR Volunteer family at this dreadful time – she will indeed, be greatly missed, by many, many people.
Princess Anne drives 7812!
Royalty on the regulator! Yes, it really happened on Monday 13th April when HRH the Princess Royal, during her visit to the SVR to commemorate the first 50 years of its existence as a preserved railway, accepted an invitation to ride on the footplate.
The locomotive chosen was our own 7812 Erlestoke Manor looking immaculate for the occasion!
Furthermore, when invited to drive the loco she accepted and, having donned appropriate apparel thoughtfully provided just in case, competently drove the train consisting of a single observation car from Bewdley to Kidderminster start to stop!
Appropriately the official driver rostered for the occasion was EMF shareholder and ex SVR Chairman Paul Fathers. Ryan Green was the fireman and Roger Norfolk, SVR Loco Crew Manger, was also on the footplate. Paul said afterwards that, to his surprise, she seemed to be fairly knowledgeable about the rudiments of driving a steam locomotive, including the tricky bit of handling the ejector (for vacuum and braking), and he hardly had to give any instructions at all. She confided in him that she had in fact had some previous experience when David Shepherd, the artist had given her some tuition on one of his locomotives.
Paul asked how it compared to riding a horse to which she replied, probably not surprisingly, that horse riding was much easier! Commiserations to the team in attendance in the “obbo” saloon who were robbed of her presence in their coach, but at least they can say they’ve been driven by a Princess! (Don’t miss your obbo trip! See below).
The photo below shows the Princess, accompanied by the Lord Lieutenant of Worcestershire and Nick
Paul (SVR Chairman) admiring Erlestoke Manor after arrival at Kidderminster. The observant will note
that the topmost of the standard four light headcode, normal for Royal trains, has been eclipsed by the
SVR Jubilee headboard which is mounted on the bracket that would otherwise have been used for the
Shareholders Obbo Trip -2nd July
Come and enjoy the delights of the observation saloon (which Princess Anne forsook for the footplate!) on our annual shareholders “obbo” trip on 2nd July for an approximately 3 hour return trip to Bridgnorth. The morning trip departs Kidderminster at 11.45am and includes full buffet lunch and light refreshments, price £35 each for shareholders and their guests (if places available). The afternoon trip departs 3.40pm and includes afternoon cream tea and strawberries.
One of the magnificent GWR design observation saloons (as seen on right a few minutes after the royal visit), attached at the rear of a service train, accommodates our guests for the 3 hour round trip – price £35 for morning trip with full buffet, £23 for the afternoon trip with cream tea. A raffle usually takes place en route to help bolster EMF funds. Hopefully 7812 should be hauling the train. Contact David Kilner on 0771 365 6363, by post to him at 3 Woodbury Park, Holt Heath, Worcester WR6 6NT or otherwise by email at Bradleym@brearley56e.fsnet.co.uk for reservations.
Cambrian 50 Celebration
This event to recall the last working days of Manorclass engines in BR service in November 1965 (our two included amongst the last four – all still existing) is beginning to capture the imagination and is programmed as an SVR sponsored event but organised by EMF for the weekend of 14-15th November. Plans are developing to offer a number of relevant attractions to recreate the atmosphere of those final swansong days of Manors working on the Cambrian and more details will be forthcoming in our next newsletter in the autumn. Meanwhile you can register your interest to attend with David Kilner (contact details above) and note it in your diaries for a weekend to remember!
Summer and Autumn Evening Specials
We are also promoting two Saturday evening specials consisting of the 3 GWR toplight coaches plus
observation car, hopefully Manor hauled, for the evenings of 25th July and 5th September for EMF
shareholders, supporters and friends, each departing Kidderminster at 6.30pm, returning about 10.30pm.
Limited first class accommodation is available for travelling in the observation car including cold buffet
and a free drink (cash bar open) at £35.00 per person. For travelling in the 3 toplights, a bargain standard fare is offered at £15.00 per person (but bring your own food and refreshment). Bookings for these two events can be made through our sales coach at Bewdley, by post to Graham Stevens, 13 Mahon Place, Bewdley, Worcestershire DY12 2PB, or book on-line at www.erlestokemanorfund.co.uk.
Boiler and Tender Appeal
The income from the appeal, assuming standing orders continue at the same rate for another year, stands at about £40k, about £10k short of our initial target. With the boiler now in the completion stages, and most parts for the tender chassis now procured or funds earmarked for procurement, the major outstanding item is the material required for the tender tank. A vacuum brake cylinder casting has recently been purchased. We intend to construct the tender including the tank ourselves at Tyseley with some specialist works contracted to Tyseley Works. We are hoping to benefit from the experience of the team (including some EMF shareholders) who have largely completed the construction of a new bunker and side tanks for Prairie loco no 4150 at Bewdley. Our Appeal remains open for subscriptions towards the completion of this capital project and Appeal leaflets will continue to be distributed with the newsletters until our stock of them runs out.
With Taw Valley’s boiler completed and no longer taking up boiler shop space, from February, Bridgnorth’s efforts focussed on Bradley’s boiler and progress has since been rapid. The inner door plate and tube plate had been fitted back in the upturned firebox by the time of the photo (left) taken on 20th March. Since then the foundation ring has also been put back in place (in the gap between the inner and outer firebox walls) so we are really getting on to the final straight. After the remaining rivets and stays have been replaced, the boiler tubes will be installed and a new smokebox fitted during the coming months.
At Tyseley, the fully overhauled and repainted chassis has virtually reached a stage when it can be returned to Bridgnorth, and is merely waiting for an appropriate moment and agreement that space is available for it in the workshop. Meanwhile it is under cover, with remaining works being carried out around the cab. This includes refitting the reversing control mechanism which has been overhauled by Tyseley works at the same time as Erlestoke’s (see below). The old 4000 gallon tender has had its first top coat of paint applied at Bridgnorth.
Erlestoke’s Winter Maintenance
Erlestoke received some useful attention during the January – February close season when the wayshaft (part of the reversing gear transmission) and the reverser control in the cab were removed and overhauled, funded by EMF. The difficult jobs of removing and replacing the mechanisms were done by our volunteers with the specialist machining contracted out to Tyseley Works and these are two less jobs to do when its general overhaul is due. A quick decision was made by the trustees to contract a heritage painting company to clean up and revarnish 7812’s paintwork resulting in a sparkling loco for the new season. Maybe this helped SVR chose this loco for Princess Anne’s visit although we weren’t aware of that at the time.
Some complimentary comments noted on Facebook soon after 7812’s earliest runs following winter maintenance seem to justify our winter maintenance efforts;
“Just had my first turn of the season this morning. I must say that this is the finest loco on the Valley. It’s a privilege to be allowed to drive her, she performed faultlessly and is a credit to the Manor Fund”. (Andy Eynon)
“After a 71 mile road test today I can confirm that this is a fine engine!”(Adrian Hassell)
“I love driving this engine as well”. (Kevin Smith)
Bewdley Station Developments
As part of developments to improve the infrastructure and enhance the ambience around Bewdley station, new GWR style security gates on the station approach ramp are to be provided. Upon invitation by the SVR and mindful of the extra security this would provide to EMF’s assets in the station yard (sales coach, storage vans etc), the trustees have agreed to make a financial contribution from the EMF towards this provision. We look forward to seeing the gates installed during the coming months.
Bernard’s watchful eye.
Alongside is a picture (and inset) of a younger edition of our President Bernard Rainbow at Crewe Bank, Shrewsbury keeping an eye on 7029 during a July 1985 rail tour.
Mainline Steam Thrives!
In case you were getting the blues about the traumatic impact on UK mainline steam from recent unfortunate events, EMF trustees Des Ainsworth and Dave Kilner can confirm it is definitely alive and well in Italy, having just had a taste of it during a recent Tuscan holiday as the attached photo taken on 1st May during a railtour near Siena can testify. The trip was a fun packed family day out with noisy festivities including street markets and folk bands.
The train of five vintage coaches (wooden seats!) on a circular route of secondary branchlines was hauled by this handsome beast, … erm .., you’re not quite so sure? Something missing perhaps? It sounded good and performed well though! Perhaps we can offer them one of those redundant receptacles now collecting coins on our station platforms, maybe even with a bit of copper around, to help add that little extra je ne sais quoi which helps to tickle the senses of those of more GWR persuasion towards our engines or the one above. Or maybe we should just take one of our locos on a Tuscan holiday, no problem with structure gauges either! The Italian structure gauge is much larger.