The `laws' applying to locomotive boilers have always been somewhat sparse, Factory Acts do not apply, but the Railway Inspectorate, who control the activities of most railways, require that all boilers are properly examined and maintained, and that they have proper insurance. The all embracing Health and Safety at Work Act, 1974 imposes many liabilities and responsibilities on any employer or operator of virtually anything, and can be certain to catch anyone who does not operate and maintain a boiler properly so that an accident occurs.

The main Regulation affecting boilers and their inspection is The Pressure Systems Safety Regulations 2000. Unfortunately I do not as yet have details of these new regulations, so the following details of the older Pressure Vessels and Transportable Gas Containers Regulations, 1989 No 2169. will remain available for now but please treat these as guidelines and obtain a copy of the new regulations.
Section 4(2) states that the pressure system shall be properly designed and properly constructed from suitable material so as to prevent danger.

Section 4(5) states that the pressure system shall be provided with such protective devices as may be necessary for preventing danger, i.e. boilers must have adequate safety valves to prevent excess pressure building up. Although these regulations refer to mobile systems, this term does not include locomotives.

Section 5. Suppliers and manufacturers, also anyone modifying or repairing any boiler, shall provide written information concerning design, construction, examiniation, operation and maintenance as may reasonably be required for these regulations to be complied with. These people shall ensure that the following information is indelibly marked on the boiler or a plate attached to it: Manufacturers name, date of manufacture, standard to which vessel was built, Maximum pressure of the vessel, the design temperature.

Section 8. The user shall not operate the system unless he has a written scheme for the periodic examination by a competent person of protective devices and the pressure vessel itself., and any parts of the pipework in which a defect may give rise to danger. A competent person is one who has knowledge of the pressure system, normally the boiler inspector. This written scheme will specify the nature and frequency of examination, and will specify any special measures necessary to prepare the pressure system for safe examination other than those it would be reasonable to expect the user to take.

Section 9. Covers the preparation and submission of reports by inspectors, including specification of repairs (if any) required to be done. The Health and Safety Booklet Locomotive Boilers HS(G)29 is a revision of one in which AIR and ARPS (now merged as HRA) were involved in preparation several years ago. Its purpose is to provide guidance on the practical applications of Regulations made under the H.& S.W. Act of 1974.

This booklet gives emphasis on the importance of examination, testing, repair and maintenance of boilers being carried out to an adequate standard, which in turn requires the choice of suitable persons both to carry out and supervise these functions, and this includes keeping records of steaming times, examinations, repairs and maintenance, including washing out. For this purpose Responsible Person(s) should be properly appointed within each organisation, who should not only have knowledge of locomotive boilers, but also authority regarding their use; he must if necessary prohibit the use, even raising of steam, in any boiler if there is any doubt as to its safety.

The importance of the competent persons - boiler inspectors - having experience of locomotive type boilers is very much stressed, and the choice of insurance company may be dictated by the organisation's experience in locomotive boiler examination.

Examinations by the competent person will normally be made on completion of a new boiler, with a hydraulic test followed by a further examination the first time the boiler is steamed. Further thorough examinations should be made within 14 months, i.e. every year, with a cold examination internally and externally as far as can be made accessible, followed by an examination in steam. The competent person may also need to make similar examinations after any major repairs have been carried out on the boiler, at his discretion.

Engines working on the National Network are required to have their boilers lifted from the frames, all lagging stripped off, all tubes and superheater flues, as well as all boiler fittings, removed for thorough examination internally as well as externally every seven years. For engines working only on independant railways this may be extended to ten years; in very exceptional circumstances this may be extended further at the discretion of the competent person.

Suitably experienced staff, appointed by the responsible person, are also required to inspect boilers internally and externally before and after wash out and also before bringing into use a boiler which has been laid up for a period during the currency of the certificate.

Water is a corrosive substance in conjunction with steel, also steel, copper and water form an elemental electric cell, leading to local corrosion. The purer mountain waters are often acidic, and therefore more corrosive than the hard waters, the dissolved substances of which deposit onto the tubes and plates, leading to them overheating and burning, and which have to be removed, often by mechanical means, at wash out. To avoid these problems water needs to be treated, exactly how should be researched by a water treatment chemist, preferably not from a water treatment firm who will be wanting to sell their products.

Whilst tubes and flues can be recycled, it is better that they are worn out before they are removed when this becomes necessary.

A boiler is a very difficult thing to fully preserve; it needs to be completely dried out internally and externally, and then kept warm and dry, e.g. in a heated museum or a desert. Boilers left out of doors with water in them between use, are corroding away, and modern day usage with occasional steaming is the worst possible treatment, as continual heating up and cooling down stresses parts tending to cause fractures. Most of the boilers in use today are old, the material far beyond the age of anything that would have been in commercial service.

Boilers wear from erosion from the ash etc, as well as burning from the flames of the fire. Wet ashes in a smokebox, and water left in the bottom of a barrel or firebox can cause bad corrosion and thinning of plates. Modern welding methods of both steel and copper enable new sections of plate to be welded in, or local areas just to be built up.

In the end, the economics of major and expensive patching up of old boilers must be considered against that of building a completely new boiler, many small boilers are now being built new.

Photos from


British Railways had already informed the Society in July 1965 that the bridge over Hollybush Road would be removed shortly and as an exercise for the working parties it was decided to recover ballast in Bridgnorth tunnel, with BR's permission.

Bridgnorth station was not the northern terminus when built, but the main intermediate station of the Severn Valley line being 18¼ miles from Hartlebury and 22½ miles from Shrewsbury.

Bridgnorth station was opened to the public on 1 February 1862, promting great celebrations in the town. Originally under SVR Company ownership, it was passed to Great Western Railway (GWR), and eventually British Railways in 1948.

It closed to passengers after 101 years on 8 September 1963, and to freight traffic on 30 November 1963.

The line now ends just after the modern-day station, where the line would formerly have gone through Bridgnorth Tunnel and on to the next station on the line, Coalport.
The Railwayman's Arms is situated at the SVR station and never closed, and thus became popular with preservationists.

After only two years preservationists had plans for Bridgnorth, resulting in the formation of the Severn Valley Railway Society. Vegetation was cleared, railway bric-a-brac was collected and the station buildings were refurbished. Bridgnorth station was fortunately never damaged through demolition activity. From then on preservation gained momentum until the present day.

Bridgnorth became the engineering centre of the new SVR because of the need to repair the growing numbers of rolling stock and locomotives after opening to the public when the first train steamed from Bridgnorth to Hampton Loade in May 1970.

The station is reached from High Town via a footbridge over a main road and a valley, the present bridge having opened in 1994.

The main locomotive works for the SVR are located at Bridgnorth. It is not normally open to the public because of health and safety regulations but conducted tours and open days are arranged from time to time. Major features of the locomotive works include the Boiler Shop equipped with a Noble and Lunn wheel lathe and ex-LT lifting jacks amongst other equiptment.

Cliff Railway

In 1890 a public meeting was called to discuss a new means of communication between the High Town and Low Town of Bridgnorth, avoiding the need to scale the 200 plus steps. The meeting was reported in the local press, and the matter came to the attention of Mr. G. Croydon Marks. Mr. Croydon Marks and Mr. George Newnes, M.P. subsequently laid a proposal before the town council for the erection of a Patent Cliff Railway, or inclined lift. Plans were finally accepted for a route from the bottom of the Stoneway Steps to the end of the Castle Walk and consequently a company entitled The Bridgnorth Castle Hill Railway Company Ltd was registered in 1891.

The original patented design of the railway was for a single track with two cars, with a crossing point mid way between top and bottom, but this was abandoned in favour of a double track. When finished, the track measured 201 ft long, with a vertical rise of 111ft. This gave the railway an incline of 33°, the steepest in England.

The railway opened on 7th July 1892. The ceremony was performed by the Mayor, and in celebration the local townspeople enjoyed a public holiday. Between July and September 1892 over 50,000 passengers used the railway. The railway ran continuously for the next 41 years, until April 1933. In May 1934 it was reopened by new shareholders.

Bridgnorth's Cliff Railway is open all year round (except Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day) and costs just one pound for a return journey. It's open 8am (Sunday 12noon) to 8pm in summer and 8am (Sunday 12noon) to 6.30pm in winter.

It's suitable for ambulant disabled (though sadly it's not wheelchair accessible), and help is given with folding wheelchairs and pushchairs.

Santa's nearly here

So, just one weekend to go before we shut up shop at Bridgnorth and decamp to Arley for three weekends of festive cheer, twinkling lights, excited children, live music, and keeping the pressie boxes filled.
It's a wonderful place to be - constant action, movement, sounds, and an enormous contrast to the now-rather-dreary, end-of-season, diminished timetable that we've had to conclude on, with trains running semi-fast to Bewdley, calling at Hampton Loade and Arley, and who's going for the next cup of tea to keep us warm.
The fast-paced half-hourly service of santa trains will actually be a pleasant lift after the last few weeks, and there's still time to chat, drink cup-a-soup in the pway hut, and clap to the band, in between the vital jobs of filling-and-refilling the postbags with pressies, 'elfing' along the grotto(s), and moving passengers along the queuing marquee, platform and bridge.
If you haven't already signed up, there's still time - a variety of jobs, good conditions, good fun, lots of laughs, and a great way to share the festive spirit with fellow volunteers - dozens of them.
Email if you've not yet committed..

7511 - wow, look at you now

7511 was one of the earliest Stanier period vehicles, from 1934.

Many of its fittings hark back to Period I and Period II influences of the 1920s, and the brasswork on these doors are a fine example. The south lavatory sports a decorated set of locks and handles from 7511's surviving toilet door, while the north end has a plain set of identical size that survived from 7571 of 1935.

Another feature that continued through several decades was the carpet. Reproduction carpet (made in Kidderminster, of course) has been laid during November. It has been painstakingly designed from photographs of corridor vestibule coaches and is as accurate as we can possibly get it.

With the carpets installed, we will shortly be able to fit the tables. These have been receiving a lot of attention from carpenters Dave Dorney and Ron White at Bridgnorth, while at Kidderminster, our table-top expert David Higgins has been fitting the green leather cloth to the centre panels.
A sample of a rich red curtain fabrichas been trialled with the carpets and a table in-situ, to the satisfaction of all those who viewed it.

Externally, the coach roof is now in its final coat of silvery grey. Gangways and end panels are also in final gloss; black for ironwork, and crimson lake for the body panels, which are also varnished over now.

The lamps for the tables have been completed by volunteers at Kidderminster: Geoff Leigh, machining; 'Cutnall Green Fred' on soldering; and David Fort, polishing and wiring up. These have all been securely installed onto the window sills of 7511 in the manner that restaurant department Open Firsts were treated by the LMS. (Ordinary non-dining Open Firsts had a candle-stick type lamp that actually stood on the tables).

The lamp shades continue to develop slowly. Twelve panels of white acrylic, stitched with brass wire to a skeletal frame, make up each shade; representing about ten hours work for each shade - if you don't make any mistakes and have to start again.

A batch of correct-pattern LMS style No Smoking totem transfers have been fitted on 7511's main windows, fourteen in all, and the second original litter bin from 7571, with LMSR monogram, has been found at last, and installed in the north lavatory.

So what's still to do?

Lamp shades, brass feet for table legs, shaping the table leg ends to take the feet, fitting the green cloth covered panels into the table frames, make 28 curtain tie back brackets in brass, sew 14 pairs of curtains and tie back tags.

Somewhere half-way through this list, we will be able to send the coach to Kidderminster for bogies, brakes and steam testing, after Christmas, then paint, line and letter the sides - with lots of gold leaf.

The railway books on sale in the marquee are a very small part of the fundraising which has enabled this glorious transformation. As one of the 'tenants' of the original 'Gilt Edge' sleeper coach, I look forward to a far more comfortable journey in this beautiful coach on its outshopping.


The line north of Alveley was closed by BR in 1963 and the Severn Valley Railway Company was formed on 25 March 1967.
Although trains had been run for 'day members' on open weekends in 1968, the first Light Railway Order was granted in November 1969.

The Alveley-Bridgnorth section was purchased and a second LRO granted on 20 May 1970 when passenger services to Hampton Loade commenced.

The signal box was built on the base of the 1923 box and incorporated a GW 3-bar VT frame ex Windmill End Junction. In 1970 pointwork at the north end of the station was connected and erection of signals commenced. In 1971 the down home signal was brought into use and the down yard ground frame commissioned.

Installation of mechanical locking proceeded in 1972 and by then all pointwork (excluding the slip at the south end of the yard) was connected. On 2 June 1973 token working to Hampton Loade was introduced, working prior to this being by one engine in steam between Bridgnorth and Alveley. In 1974 the Down Inner Home bracket signal was commissioned.

Track alterations were carried out in 1976 including extensive resignalling, alteration to the yard connections and track circuiting of the platform roads. The box was closed on 25 September 1977 and the token instruments moved into the SMO. The box was recommissioned on 6 August 1978.

The platform 2 starting signal was erected on 17 February 1980 such that all passenger movements were then under fixed signals. A new platform 1 starting signal was erected in 1980 following the platform extension, and resignalling was completed in 1982 with the commissioning of numbers 21 and 24 signals, by which time the bypass bridge had been constructed.

A 'right away' indicator was added in 1986 and the Up Advanced Starting signal was repositioned in 1992.


"It started in a small way on 17th June 2007 when we were working on Bridgnorth's Down Home Signal which had been giving some trouble - a minor job - and we noticed that a small slip had occurred in the ground at the south end of Oldbury viaduct. A crack about an eighth of an inch wide and a few feet long had opened up alongside the cable troughing. This was a taste of things to come and the later events were to make the term 'tension cracks', along with its symptoms, much more familiar - at that time however, it was (to us) an unknown phenomenon.

After working Bewdley North on 19th June I noticed that the rain on my journey home to Bristol had been heavier than normal and when the dust had settled the next day, we realised that the Bridgnorth Down Home Signal had been left perched high and dry as the surrounding ballast had been washed away. Something major had happened at Highley where a lot of our equipment simply fell into a new hole, including the Up Starting Signal. The damage that we gradually uncovered was to take us the next nine months to get to a stage where trains could resume running - once the engineering contractors had provided some ground into which we could place our equipment.

At Bridgnorth the Down Home Signal had to be removed to allow repairs and the cable from there to the Down Distant was severed and damaged by the work to repair the embankment where it passed behind the industrial estate at Knowlesands. This alone would be a major task for the Department - replacing the signal, signal post telephone, reinstaing the location cupboard, laying troughing to the berth track location and removing and replacing an underground signalling cable from there to the Down Distant, some thousand yards or so. We also took the opportunity to refurbish and repaint the Down Distant.

An underground armoured signalling cable extends for the whole length of the railway, apart from a short length at Bridgnorth where the original pole route remains in use. This cable carries the token circuits as well as local circuits for such things as signal lamps and signal post telephones. It also carries the omnibus telephone circuit and a few selected automatic extensions and lineside emergency telephones. Replacement of this cable has therefore been the single item that has taken up most of our time over the last nine months.

The main telephone circuits between Stations are now provided externally and as such calls are, in many cases, a charge to the railway. The service between Bridgnorth and Hampton Loade was reinstated on 9 February 2008."

New volunteers are welcomed to the S&T - email for details.

Track Safety

Like these splendid gentlemen, to be qualified to be in charge of the platform for a train departure, you have to pass the Personal Track Safety examination. You can be extremely helpful as platform staff without the PTS, but it does give you an extra value - and greater awareness.
It's not difficult, but it is quite a useful bit of knowledge. Try it for yourself here; it's a multiple choice, 13 question list.

Q1. What is a running line?
A1. The main line
A2. The sidings
A3. All lines

Q2. When should you be on the running line?
A1. When taking a walk
A2. When your duties require you to
A3. When taking a photo

Q3. What should you wear when on or near a running line?
A1. Your overalls
A2. Your cap
A3. Your high visibility clothing

Q4. Who should authorise you to go on to a running line?
A1. Your supervisor
A2. The station master
A3. The cabin boy

Q5. What do you need to know before going on to a running line?
A1. What time to come back
A2. What direction and speed of the trains
A3. What engine is running

Q6. If you are in a gang with a lookout man appointed and he signals that a train is approaching, what should you do?
A1. Carry on working
A2. Get your camera out
A3. Raise your arm to acknowledge, and stand clear

Q7. Where is your place of safety?
A1. In the four foot
A2. In the six foot
A3. In the cess

Q8. When walking to your site of work along the line, where is a safe place to walk?
A1. In the four foot
A2. In the six foot
A3. In the cess

Q9. If a train is approaching at 20mph, how long does it take to travel a quarter of a mile?
A1. 15 seconds
A2. 45 seconds
A3. 35 seconds

Q10. If you are working on a running line without a lookout man being appointed, who is responsible for your safety?
A1. The oldest hand
A2. Yourself
A3. All for each other

Q11. During fog or falling snow, when should you go on to the running line?
A1. Only with a lookout man
A2. Never
A3. Only when the trains have been stopped for the work to be carried out

Q12. How near to the track should you or your tools be when a train is passing?
A1. 10ft (3m)
A2. 6'6" (2m)
A3. 3'3" (1m)

Q13. If you are on or near a running line, and an approaching train sounds its whistle, what do you do?
A1. Ignore it
A2. Raise your arm to acknowledge it
A3. Sit down on the bank

If you'd like your answers checked by the Bridgnorth ASM (with no obligation!), send them to the station website email

Disabled visitors

I have a blind friend, and a restricted-mobility friend, and a wheelchair-bound friend, and many variously-disabled acquaintances. Our wheelchair-bound friend made, with our guidance, a hugely-enjoyed visit to the railway with his wife on gala weekend. It is possible for visitors of just about any disability to enjoy a visit to our railway, by forward planning and prior arrangement. is a very helpful website with loads of info and links. SVR features fairly well, although it is not currently included in a linked site at - we are, as we speak, putting that right!

So, what did the researcher say about us? "Also in the town [of Bridgnorth] is the Severn Valley Railway which has specially adapted carriages for wheelchairs and a disabled toilet on the train. The staff are on hand to offer assistance if required. There is a tearoom with a steeply ramped entrance and a shop at Bridgnorth station.

It takes about an hour and a quarter to travel the line from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster. There is a three quarter of an hour turn around at Kidderminster during which you can visit the small museum and have a cup of tea in the tea room there, before travelling back to Bridgnorth. It is necessary to contact the railway beforehand to check what time the adapted carriages are running, in order to avoid a long wait. There is disabled parking immediately outside the station ticket office.

The latest addition to the Severn Valley Railway is the new Engine House Visitor Centre at Highley. This can be reached from Highley station but please note until 2009 access for wheelchair users is via a very steep ramp at the end of the platform and across a crossing point on the line. The station staff will be pleased to assist you to negotiate this if requested.

The new facility is excellent and access to the exhibits is really good for those with limited mobility. Unlike many similar exhibitions visitors are encouraged to indulge in touching the trains which makes it excellent for those with visual impairment. Access to the cafe which serves meals and light snacks and also has an outside viewing area is via a lift to the first floor. There are several video shows in the centre but please note that the one at the far end of the centre has a display of fast moving images between showings and for those who might have a problem with this it would be best to wait away from the area until the commentary starts. The designated toilet is on the ground floor and there is also a small shop on site."

Fairly complimentary, eh? As it should be able to be - confinement to a wheelchair is not normally by choice, so the least we can do is make such visitors as welcome and comfortable as possible. To update some of the data in that report: we now have no less than four adapted carriages, with a fifth in the pipeline. The footbridge at Highley is scheduled for construction in January 2009.

So if you have disabled relatives and/friends - SVR is a great place to come!


Why the long gap? 'Cos I forgot how to log in - sorry, will not happen again.

Anyway, we've had lots of fun on the station getting on with railings, refurbing cattle dock trackbed, sorting acquired timber, and so much more.

The magnificent bunch in the pic are our new dream team of teens - from left to right: Adam, 15, likes lighting fires, stoking fires, drinking tea and coffee, restoking fires, getting grubby, restoking fires, and maybe even eating before checking if the waiting room fire needs restoking.

Next to him is Chris, 14, our brilliant ex-Apprentices platform staff member, extremely responsible and sensible, don't think he's fussed about stoking fires (not that he'd get a look in), but very good at helping passengers - and we hope he'll join us for Santa trains at Arley (when there are no trains at Bridgnorth).

Carrot-top Richard is also 14, and quite a contrast to Chris. He's a bundle of fun and enthusiasm, with us for his Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award, and is like Adam's twin in personality. Double-trouble! But they are being a fantastic help to our 'oldies' in the Wailing Wall Construction Company, and with chipping the railings, and of course stoking the fire in the waiting room. Oh, and eating. We're delighted he wants to stick with us after his DoE, 'cos we love having him.

Far right is Oliver, 16, and more like Chris in personality - quiet and sensible, and very very keen. Spent his 16th birthday at the MPD - as the first day he was officially qualified to - having a shower - a cold shower... Now he's on the roster and so happy in his job. Well thought of and greatly liked. And we hope he, too, will join us at Arley to help Santa, when he's not booked in the shed.

These four lads are soooo keen, it's great to have them here.
And you can see them again at on the VLO page for 14-16 year old prospective volunteers - [thanks, Paul].