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In the 14 years that I have lived in Worcestershire I have travelled on the Severn Valley Line a few times and visited Kidderminster to admire the station and trains on several occasions. Mine and hubby's most recent trip on the line was the fish and chip train which runs on Saturday evenings during the summer. My review will focus on this trip. Food is ordered on the outward journey and served at Bridgnorth station. We had to wait a short while at Bridgnorth for the food but it was worth it and at £5 each (on top of the rail fare) good value. There was also a bar on the train so we were not short of something to wash the chips down with. Staff on the station and train were friendly and helpful. For me the best thing about the Severn valley railway is the historic and nostalgic locomotives and rolling stock. The second best thing is the view from the train window with the railway passing next to West Midlands safari park, beautiful countryside and of course the river Severn. The stations along the line are generally pretty and well kept. All in all our evening out was, like all our previous trips on the SVR, a pleasant experience. The only downside was the wait at the mainline station in Kidderminster afterwards for our train home (and this wasn't too bad thanks to the SVR station bar). Unlike most services on the line the fish and chip train is not steam hauled but run by an early style diesel multiple unit. Serious steam enthusiasts should bear this in mind although I found that there was plenty of opportunity to admire steam trains in the stations at either end of the line and my fascination with railway history meant that I found the vehicle rather interesting.
We live approximately five miles away from the Kidderminster station of the Severn Valley Railway and have travelled on their many times. For up to date information, prices, special events and all other information please visit www.svr.co.uk ***Severn Valley Railway History**** The Severn Valley Railway was used during the nineteenth and twentieth Century (until the 1960s) as a through route for transport. It is a full gauge railway that carried passengers and freight which was mainly of the agricultural kind as well as coal. Due to the growing popularity of the motor car during the 1950s and nationalisation of the railways in the 1940s this led to the decline of passenger trains. Therefore, together with a decline in coal from Arley led to the closure of the line.... until the preservationists came along and made it into what it is today... a beautiful piece of history which children and adults alike enjoy. ****The Route*** The Severn Valley Railway takes approximately an hour and runs from Kidderminster, through to Bewdley, Arley, Highley, Hampton Loade and then onto Bridgnorth. You are able to alight at any of the stations to look around. The stations are often very pretty with lots of flowers and shrubbery, especially during the summer months. Bewdley - is a thriving old town where you can walk along the river, have a pub lunch and take in the views. There are often boat races along the river too or feed the ducks with the children. Arley, Highley and Hampton Loade - all run alongside the River Severn so there are some beautiful walks you can take. Kidderminster - is a busy town with all the usual shops available. ***The Trains**** Are steam trains which have been realistically and beautifully restored and maintained to their original features as much as possible. There are also a couple of diesel trains that run the line also. Third class is included in the price of your ticket, but you may up grade to first class where there are separate compartments for a small extra charge. ****Railway and Visitor Center*** Is like a museum where there are educational and interactive attractions as well as more engines and trains to visit including a postal train. There is a picnic area outside and a children's play area to keep the children entertained. There is a small extra charge to enter this attraction ***Other Services*** There is an excellent provision of baby facilities, cafes and gift shops throughout the Severn Valley and they are extremely child friendly with separate carriages on the trains for push chairs etc. ***Special Events**** Throughout the year the Severn Valley Railway hold special events which include Thomas the Tank engine days where Thomas and friends come to visit, Santa Specials where the children get to visit Santa and receive a gift. There are also special Sunday Luncheon and Evening Meal trains available, check the website for details. ****Parking**** Is widely available at Kidderminster and Bridgnorth for a small charge ***Verdict*** A very well organised and family friendly attraction, well worth a visit, especially for the boys and fathers who love trains!
I visited in Mid 2007 for one of there gala events, it was billed as a major event, with breakfeast train from kidderminister and demo freight trains. We arrived in plenty of time for the breakfeast train, but we were told that the carriage was full and we couldnt dine. We alighted the train at Arley to take some pictures, which was nice. Lots of trains passed and i took some good pictures. But the pricce of the tickets was still high, even booked in advance was approx 30 GBP including breakfeast which we couldnt have. Again staff attuide was poor, especially towards the childern, who were seen as a pain and unwanted. The toys/books in the shop were over priced 4 GBP for a small thomas toy. Its fine for a standard day trip but, i wouldnt go to one of these galas again. total waste of money really.
Despite my previous comments about how much I have enjoyed some of the other preserved railways around the country, I think the Severn Valley Railway (SVR) has to be my favourite. This 16 mile stretch of line runs down the Severn Valley (now there's a shock) from Kidderminster in Worcestershire to Bridgnorth in Shropshire, making it one of the longest preserved lines of the lot. The 'Line for all seasons' certainly lives up to all expectations with a huge range of different events during the year which appeal to all of the family - Thomas the Tank Engine weekends and Santa specials for the little ones (although these are so good we did go before we had our son too...), Diesel and Steam weekends for the enthusiasts, War Weekends and fantastic dining trains for all the family - it really is the most diverse and professional of all of the heritage railways. This is largely, I suppose, due to the fact that they've been in business for rather a long time - the first section re-opened in 1970 after closing in 1963 - and they been the first on the scene with new marketing ideas which the other railways have then copied more or less successfully. So, where to start with a visit? Well, lets go for an ordinary weekend, without any special events as that would be my recommendation for your first visit as its much less crowded - the themed weekends, especially in the summer, get really busy. And lets presume youve resisted one of their fantastic dining trains, because that will give me the chance to talk about eating in and around the line, which is one of my specialist subjects, it has to be said! Right, first off Id start at the Kidderminster end of the line and arrive by train. The mainline station (yes, little brick hut thing) has a regular service and is only a two minute walk from the SVR station. Not only does this save you having to worry about the traffic and parking, its really great to walk from the modern station to the splendour and comfort of the old one - that two minute walk really feels like a walk back in time. There are the usual array of facilities at the station - toilets, gift shop etc. Its really lovely if you go before Christmas as they also have a huge decorated Christmas tree. If you need a feed, head for the King and Castle which is a pub on the station - it doesnt look much, but it serves good food , really good beer and lets in both kids and dogs, which is a major plus in our household. All fed and watered? Well, lets head off down the line then. The first bit of the line is a bit dull as you head out of Kidderminster, but youre soon out into the open country, and dont forget to look right out of the window as you get a good view of the animals at the Bewdley Safari Park on your way past! First stop is Bewdley, where youve got a couple of choices. Its a neat station with the SVR locomotive works if you want to hang about and see whats going on (it has three platforms and can get busy with trains), or you can take the short walk into Bewdley itself, an old market town with lots of character and some interesting little shops. But to be honest, my favourite parts of the SVR are further down the line, so lets move on. The next stop is the beautiful little village of Arley. Now, you really are getting off here to visit the village rather than the station, which is very pretty but quite small - OK for a picnic , though. What you really need to do is to head off into Arley, but be warned it is a 5/10 min walk and although the road is tarmac it is fairly steep. But the trip into the village is well worth it - it really is picture postcard. It has an arboretum, which I have to admit to never have visited, as our usual plot is a walk up to the church followed by the reward of an ice cream from the little tea room, sitting out on their picnic benches overlooking the river watching for trains. Lovely. Told you this would involve food! If you can drag yourself away though, theres more to come yet.. Next stop is Highley, again nice for a picnic, but for me has two major points of interest. Firstly, it gets used for television filming - if you remember Oh Doctor Beeching, this was the station which they used, although the cottages were constructed out of board for the series and dont actually exist. The second point of interest does, Im afraid involve cake. They sell a thing called the Highley Slice which is a very nice caramel and biscuit job - youll sometimes see someone pop out and deliver one with a cup of tea to the driver! Its from a different era entirely.. There is a request stop next - Country Park Halt - but Ive filed that one in my request stops which we always talk about using but havent got around to yet file! After that comes Hampton Loade station, a great place if you fancy a walk (after all that food...) -not only are there some really nice nature walks around and about theres also another relic of a bygone age, a pedestrian ferry across the river. If youre feeling keen, take the ferry and walk to Dudmaston Hall, the local stately home (1 1/2 miles). But personally, I dont think a trip to the SVR is complete if you dont go all the way down the line to the truly fabulous Bridgnorth. The station itself is really great, including another pub (the Railwaymans Arms) which is to be recommended, but dont spend all of you time on the station - the town itself is magnificent. The station is in the top half of the town High Town. Walk over the bridge outside the station and take the cliff railway down to Low Town and youll find bustling little shops, pubs, tea rooms, historic building and riverside walks. A smashing way to end a day on the trains - the back on again for a relax and the ride home..... Hope youve enjoyed the ride!
I wrote some time ago about the Llangollen Railway and what a nostalgic and enjoyable trip it was through beautiful countryside which really captures the atmosphere of the Welsh mountains. Another of my favourite railway journeys is the Severn Valley Railway, which is conveniently placed for most people to visit and travels through the heart of England between Bridgenorth and Kidderminster, crosses the majestic 200ft high single span Victoria railway bridge across the river and takes in some of the loveliest scenery in the midlands with stops at some charming towns and villages in between. There are few roads in this part of the Severn valley and as the route follows closely the meandering course of the River Severn some of the varied views of largely unspoilt scenery are only visible from the Railway. We always start our visit at Bridgenorth, which is an hour’s drive from where we live, and the home of the Severn Valley Railway. This really is a beautiful ancient market town, which provides an excellent starting point for a great day out. Its built on a dramatic red stone ridge and unusually, the town is split into two. The low town on the banks of a beautiful stretch of the river Severn is connected to the high town by a winding main road, a cliff railway, hidden walkways and steep flight of steps. The low town is a lovely place for a walk along the river and the gardens or a drink at one of the waterside pubs and has some interesting and attractive old houses, including ‘Diamond Hall’ which was built in the late 17th Century by Colonel Roger Pope with the winnings of his horse ‘Diamond’. The high town has a foreign feel about it with stepped streets lined by red tiled houses with tall chimneys. It has a castle with a keep that leans three times as much as the leaning tower of Pisa, an Italianate church built by Thomas Telford the famous bridge engineer, loads of specialist shops, a busy market, a huge old fashioned book shop and a fantastic restaurant called the ‘Green Room’ on the high street which serves the best pot of tea I’ve ever tasted as well as a tremendous variety of home made food including soups and cakes and an extensive vegetarian menu. Its a great place for a day out even if you’re not going on the train – I’d definitely recommend a trip on 100 year old cliff railway and Bridgenorth station is itself impressive, with refreshment facilities, a licensed bar, a gift shop and the locomotive works. First stop on the railway after leaving Bridgenorth is the village of Hampton Loade, a picturesque, riverside village with a unique privately operated rope guided, pedestrian ferry across the river. The restored country station is absolutely charming and this is an ideal stop for a walk of about a mile and a half, using the ferry, to the National Trust’s Dudmaston Hall with its extensive landscaped gardens. The next stop, Country Park Halt, is a ‘request stop’- the train doesn’t normally stop here unless you tell the guard in advance. As the name suggests, its bang in the middle of the Severn Valley Country Park and Nature Reserve. I’ve never stopped here personally, but I understand that there is a picnic area, a model village and the park has some nice walks noted for their wild flowers and the large variety of birds to be seen. Further down the line is Highley, the station is a perfectly restored stone building housing the Tourist Information shop and selling the re-knowned Highley Slice cake. This stop is also in the country park, and there are pleasant riverside walks back to Hampton Loade or forward to the next stop at Arley, as well as a decent enough pub called the Ship Inn and a very pleasant looking nine-hole golf course. Arley is straight out of a calendar, incredibly picturesque and an idyllically situated riverside village bordering the Wyre Forest. No wonder its been chosen as a venue for a number of television series including ‘Goodnight Mr.Tom’ and ‘Oh Dr. Beeching’. There’s a pub called, strangely enough, The Harbour Inn, which is well worth a visit, a nice antidote to all the plastic theme pubs taking over our high streets. The stop before the journey’s end at Kidderminster is Bewdley, which surely must be one of the most beautiful towns in England. This is the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the Severn Valley Railway. The delightful riverside town derives its name from the French ‘beau lieu’, meaning beautiful place and that’s no exaggeration, the description is well deserved by the town’s attractive setting on the middle reaches of the Severn. Stately 17th century houses line the immaculately preserved broad quays, which bustled with life when Bewdley was a busy inland port. Things to see apart from the beauty of the town itself are the elegant bridge built by Thomas Telford, a large scenic model railway and the excellent museum, which is not at all stuffy, and houses a very interesting collection portraying Bewdley’s days as a prosperous port. You may have seen Bewdley reported on the television last year, its vulnerable situation made it a victim of the terrible floods which swept the country. Kidderminster, the end of the line, is famous for being the birthplace of Roland Hill the founder of the Penny Post, in those pre Consignia days, and its reputation as the centre of the country’s carpet industry. Kidderminster is home to a popular Railway Museum run by a separate charitable association, with entry from the steam railway platforms. Definitely worth a visit to see a large display of old fashioned railway bric a brac including locomotive nameplates, old fashioned signals that you can operate by levers, a simple telephone exchange, plus much morel and entry is free. The railway hosts regular events throughout the year, mostly concentrated in the summer months, and include: · Gala weekends, usually in March, April and September for the enthusiasts among you. · Thomas the Tank weekends in May and September. · Nostalgic 1940’s weekends, held last year in June and July. · The Severn Valley in Bloom weekend in late July, highlighting the beautiful station gardens and floral displays. · A Classic Vehicle Day in October, when each of the stations on the route have gatherings of all types and descriptions of classic vehicles including cars, motorbikes busses, lorries and vans. An up to date programme of events and details of prices can be found on the Severn Valley Railway website, www.svr.co.uk as well as information about Sunday lunches, train connections, foot plate experience courses and access and facilities for the disabled and children. I’d also recommend a visit to, www.7valley.org.uk, one of the best unofficial sites/guides about railways I’ve seen – lots of pictures, details and fantastic hand drawn maps – the sort of thing which really gives the web a good name. The people who run and work on this railway are courteous, enthusiastic and friendly, nothing is too much trouble – perhaps we could persuade them to bid for one or more of the rail franchises, and give Richard Branson and his like a run for their money. This is a perfect day out whether or not you are interested in steam railways and provides a beautiful journey through 16 miles of glorious countryside. So near to Birmingham and close to where the industrial revolution started yet the peace of this beautiful part of the Severn valley is in my opinion second to none.