The Severn Valley Railway is a major attraction in the West Midlands that is easily accessible due to its close proximity to the M5 motorway and its location next to the present ‘main line’ Kidderminster railway station.
It runs for 16 miles through the countryside of the Severn Valley between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth which is on the border of Shropshire and Worcestershire. The journey takes passengers back in time to an era when train travel had an element of romance and mystery about it. Steam travel inspired authors such as Agatha Christie, to write iconic fiction such as, ‘Murder on the Orient Express.’ Services are predominantly operated by steam although at certain times diesel traction is used to pull the carriages. Building of the original line started in 1858 and took four years to complete linking Hartlebury, near Droitwich in Worcestershire, with Shrewsbury in Shropshire 40 miles away. In the 1870s the Severn Valley Railway was incorporated into the Great Western Railway and a link line was formed to enable trains to run directly from the Black Country to areas in Shropshire.
Prior to its preservation, the Severn Valley line was struggling financially and it was predominantly used to carry freight traffic from the coal mines of Alveley and Highley which were its main source of revenue.
During the Second World War the line was used as a military by-pass around the West Midlands and had special strategic importance. In 1948 the railways were nationalised and passenger traffic started to decrease. In 1963 the line was closed to all through-traffic and the track at the end of the line north of Bridgnorth was dismantled.
People commonly blame the closure of the line on the ‘Beeching Axe’ when, during the early 1960s, Dr Beeching, chairman of the British Railways Board, introduced a major programme of line closures. However, in the case of the Severn Valley line he was not to blame as the decision to shut the railway to passenger traffic had already been made prior to Beeching’s cuts.
The real reason for the demise of the line was the development of major motorway routes and the related growth in lorry traffic that captured much of the freight. Better roads and an increase in car ownership starved the line of its regular passengers.
The present Severn Valley Railway dates back to 1965 when a group of enthusiasts decided to try to preserve the line. After significant efforts they were able to reopen the route in stages. As its popularity has grown it has become one of the best known ‘heritage railways’ in the country. Today the Severn Valley Railway operates all the year round and attracting thousands of tourists to its open days and themed events. Perhaps the most popular of these is a Second World War re-enactment held every summer.
There are other special events throughout the year to entertain all the family and for the real train enthusiast, the railway offers the ‘Footplate Experience’ – a chance to ride on the engine of a steam locomotive. The railway is heavily dependent upon a team of dedicated volunteers who undertake a range of duties from driving the trains to selling tickets.
A journey from one end of the line to the other takes about an hour but it is a good idea to allow more time and stop off at the various stations on the way. Visiting the Severn Valley Railway is truly a magical experience and there is always something to do and see. All events are available to book online and details and times of opening and costs can be found on their website.
A strange phenomena is said to occur during the winter months. Walkers claim to have heard a train and even seen the steam from the engine but all have reported that they were unable to see the actual train which was invisible. One theory is that this happens when the steam from a train that has recently passed hits a cold inversion layer of air. This creates the impression that the train is passing while in reality it passed a few moments before. The Ghost Train of Bewdley was investigated by researchers in 2007 and the story reported in the Shropshire Express & Star Newspaper
Camping and Caravanning Club Site
Wolverley Rd, Wolverley, Kidderminster
Worcestershire, England, DY10 3PX
+44 (0)1562 850 909
- Address: 1 Comberton Place, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, England, United Kingdom, DY10 1QR
- GPS: 52.38424722,-2.239788889
- Phone: 0044 (0)1562 757 900
- Part of UK: England
- Sat Nav Postcode: DY10 1QR
- Entrance Fees: Yes
- Disabled Access: Good but access to some areas is not possible for wheelchair users
- Visibility from Road: Excellent - variety of locations
- Image Credits: Header Image: James David Photography