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Oxfordshire Railway Society 1980 Trip

The Severn Valley Railway

by Peter Heath

To misquote a few lines of a recent hit record, didn't we have a lovely time the day we went to Bewdley, and on the way back ..........“ but more of that later. It was one of those rare days (the sun was shining out of a cloudless sky ) on Saturday 5th July when Abingdon Coaches’ newest vehicle left Marcham. The coach did, in fact, have an “L” registration but they had only purchased it shortly before and it had come through its MOT less than twenty four hours ago. By the time we had picked up our last passengers in Kid1ington there were 46 of us aboard. After an interesting but uneventful journey, we arrived in good time to see the 11 .45 departure from Bewdley.

After browsing through the well stocked shop, having a coffee and taking the odd photograph we prepared to board the 12.30. A Severn Valley Railway official, resplendent in navy waistcoat and “scrambled egg” hat, told us that our party had been allocated seats in the carriage next to the Bar.......we wondered how he knew. A Class 52 diesel “ ‘Western Courier”, looking immaculate in maroon livery, was coupled up, and after putting the Society’s impressive Headboard on the front we eased out of the station. To the steam fans it seemed strange that the loco pulling us was less than 20 years old, and already preserved.

As we supped our ale we looked out on the tranquil scene as we ambled along, passing green fields and with the river never far away. After trundling over the famous and much photographed Victoria Bridge we went through Arley, Highley and Hampton Loade stations, all neat and tidy with their gas lamps, milk churns and olden advertising signs. Somewhere along the line a steam hauled train passed us; it could so easily have been a quarter of a century ago. Fifty five minutes after leaving Bewdley we pulled into Bridgnorth, just over 12 miles away.
We had one and a half hours here; some went off to explore the picturesque town, some had no difficulty in finding the bar on platform one, whilst the rest looked round the depot with its impressive collection of locos. The scene here, too, was reminiscent of the l95Os, with the smell of coal and smoke and oily rags, except that most of the motive power looked as though it had just come out of the paintshop.

At 3.O5 pm we were on our way back. But this time Great Western railway “Hagley Hall”, No. 493O was to do the honours, and it was interesting to note that this locomotive was about 30 years older than “Western Courier”. At Arley, we had to wait some time for the latter loco to pass us, coming in the opposite direction. We later learnt that it was delayed by a cow on the line which refused to give second best until it was eventually chased away.After the Diesel had left,our engine was suddenly detached and ran back towards Bridgenorth only to return a few minutes later. We made enquiries as to what was happening and were told that the Diesel had failed just up the line,but had presumably restarted. We steamed into Bewdley about 20 minutes late.

“On the way back....” we were involved in another failure when our charabanc, having successfuUy negotiated the arduous Broadway Hill, developed engine trouble and limped to a garage, where it then expired. A small band of volunteers pushed the vehicle to the adjoining workshop, and whilst the trouble was being rectified, the enterprising cafe next door extended their opening hours and a welcome cup, of tea was purchased. We were soon on our way, however, and the good spirited trippers settled back in their seats reflecting, no doubt, that it could have been that other diesel (the maroon one)— after all we did mange to push a bus, but all in all it was a successful and enjoyable trip and we might even have another one in 1981.

To misquote another song— “We’ll gather Bluebells in the Spring”- maybe.

For forthcoming Oxfordshire Railway Society Visits, please click here.


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