On July 6th 1965 a group of about fifty local enthusiasts met at the Coopers Arms public house in Kidderminster. The result was the formation of the Severn Valley Railway Society. The intention was to purchase from British Railways a five and a half mile section of line from Bridgnorth, south through Hampton Loade, to Alveley Colliery sidings near Highley. Spearheaded by the
flamboyant Sir Gerald Nabarro MP, the then Chairman of the Company, a share issue was launched. The aim was to raise
110,000 pounds. The cost of purchasing the nine miles of line from Alveley Colliery sidings, through Highley, Arley and Bewdley as far as Foley Park, near Kidderminster, was set by British Railways at
74,000 pounds. In the event the share issue was so successful that, with additional
fnancial help from local engineering company Rubery Owen Group, the line to Bewdley was purchased and progressively opened during 1974.
Love him or hate him, the charismatic Sir Gerald had a way of getting things done! This did not always go down well with the volunteers, with the result that at one point in 1973 a strike was seriously threatened. The press loved the story with headlines such as "Tyrant" Nab must go say train fans in the Daily Mail and "I'll steam on" says Nab in the Daily Express. In the Birmingham Evening Mail the headline read "Ultimatum to Nabarro: Go - or trains don't". It is pleasing to report that the only strike ever to be mooted on the Severn Valley Railway never took place. After this incident Sir Gerald's interest in the SVR quickly waned. He died suddenly in November 1973 at his home in Broadway, Worcestershire.
The Severn Valley Railway is a full-size standard-gauge railway line, running regular, mainly steam-hauled, passenger trains between Kidderminster in Worcestershire and Bridgnorth in Shropshire, a distance of approximately sixteen miles. A remarkable feature of the Railway is that it is very largely run by unpaid volunteers, with a paid staff of around 70 people responsible for administration and commercial activities, plus regular track and rolling stock maintenance. Through the year, volunteers appear on the Railway to perform many tasks, including repairing and repainting stations, reconstruction of viaducts and bridges, and rebuilding locomotives and rolling stock, not to mention operating the trains!