The Route & Stations
The 16 mile journey between the carpet manufacturing centre of Kidderminster and market town of Bridgnorth on the Severn Valley Railway is a unique experience taking in 6 stations, 2 halts, 2 tunnels, a 200 foot single span bridge, a reservoir, wonderful views of the River Severn and miles of unspoilt Worcestershire and Shropshire countryside.
Kidderminster has the best transport links of the 6 Severn Valley Stations with the Kidderminster mainline station (Birmingham to Worcester) right alongside the SVR. Kidderminster is about 10 miles from the M5/M42 and the station has a large pay and display car park, but this does fill to capacity on Bank Holidays. There are alternative car parks within walking distance.
Heading out of the Kidderminster Town Station the next stop on the Severn Valley line is the Georgian town of Bewdley, on the way crossing the River Stour and Staffordshire and Worcester Canal, through Bewdley Tunnel and passing the Devil's Spittleful - a sandstone outcrop set in ancient heathland adjacent to the West Midlands Safari Park.
Bewdley Station is the largest on the SVR with 3 platforms, 2 signal boxes, double line working, a covered pedestrian footbridge and bags of character. Car parking here is currently free. Bewdley Station is in an elevated position on the side of a hill, and upon leaving the station the line is at roof level of surrounding houses as it crosses Wribbenhall Viaduct.
From Bewdley the Railway heads to Arley, closely following the path of the River Severn, passing piers in the river that are all that remains of Dowles Bridge which carried a second line out of Bewdley through the Wyre Forest and on to Cleobury Mortimer and Tenbury Wells. The line continues through Northwood Halt before passing Trimpley Reservoir below Eymore Wood with the Wyre Forest rising steeply from the opposite bank of the River Severn. Trains then enter a cutting before emerging spectacularly onto the Victoria Bridge, crossing the River Severn in a single 200 foot arch - the largest single span bridge in the world in 1861. From here it is just a short distance to Arley Station.
From Arley the Severn Valley Railway remains on the west side of the river all the way to Bridgnorth, arriving next at Highley Station, the scene of some of the worst weather damage suffered on the line in the storms of June 2007. Repairs were required at nearly 50 sites along the railway with Highley requiring some major civil engineering to restore the rail track bed which was washed away by 6 inches of rain that fell in just a few hours. The Engine House Visitor and Education Centre is located at the Highley site.
After leaving Highley Station the railway heads through the Severn Valley Country Park and Country Halt, from where National Cycle Route 45 runs adjacent to the line all the way to Hampton Loade Station. Hampton is in quite a remote location accessed by car down a narrow lane, but well worth the trip for the peaceful location and charming country station. The station has a small free car park.
Shortly after leaving Hampton Loade Station the railway passes Chelmarsh Reservoir on the left and on the opposite bank of the Severn, Dudmaston Hall, neither of which are visible from the train. The line then passes through Eardington Halt, into Knowlesands Tunnel, emerging on Olbury Viaduct which crosses a stream feeding the millpond for Daniel's Mill. It is then just a short distance into Bridgnorth Station. This station has ample pay and display car parking. A high level pedestrian footbridge takes you from the station to a footpath running alongside the park around Bridgnorth Castle and up into Hightown.
Severn Valley Railway History
The original Severn Valley Railway was constructed between 1858 and 1862 running from Hartlebury in Worcestershire to Shrewsbury in Shropshire. During the 1870's the SVR became part of the Great Western Railway and a few years later the line was connected to the West Midlands via a link from Bewdley to Kidderminster. The line was never economically viable as Severn Valley Railway or under Great Western. Over the years diesel engines replaced steam on many of the services, but passengers were leaving the railways in favour of the car, and services on the line ended in 1963. Steam hauled trains continued to run on the line right until the end of passenger and freight services.
Within 2 years of the line closing, the Severn Valley Railway Society had been formed, raising sufficent funds to aquire the section of SVR between Alveley and Bridgnorth. Restoration work on the line was carried out and by 1970 they were able to run a passenger service from Bridgnorth to Hampton Loade. Further fund raising enabled the section of line from Alveley to Kidderminster to be purchased, also allowing the line to gain access to the British Railways network at Kidderminster, and by the middle of 1974 trains were running into Bewdley. It was not until 1984 that SVR were able to aquire the last section of line into Kidderminster, finally opening up the final stretch of track from Bewdley.
Severn Valley Railway has continued to develop over the years with the addition of some significant buildings and facilities, including a new boiler repair shop at Bridgnorth, a huge carriage storage, maintenance and washing building at Kidderminster in 2003, the Kidderminster Town Station in 2006, and the Engine House Visitor and Education Centre in 2009. A quarter of a million passengers now travel on the Severn Valley Railway each year.
The success of the line owes a great deal to the dedication of volunteers, who at the weekend will outnumber paid staff by almost 3 to 1! Find out more about volunteering at the SVR.