30th September 2000
Severn Valley Railway Diesel Gala

A second perspective of the Saturday - Adrian Knight describes....

With College on Friday and Football on Sunday, I decided that Saturday would be the best day to visit the Severn Valley Diesel Gala.  With a 45 minute service offered with Modern traction which appealed to me along and Heritage traction which appealed to my Dad, Saturday 30th September was pencilled in our diaries to keep clear.

Our first task was to get to Kidderminster from Birmingham Snow Hill for the first departure of the day.  After consulting the Timetable the 08:00 from Snow Hill gave a 17 minute connection at Kidderminster to get our tickets which we thought would be long enough however...

150018 08:00 Birmingham Snow Hill - Kidderminster (5 late)
150018 (a wreck if ever there was one) arrived at 08:05 putting a strain on our connection and no time was made up on the journey to Kidderminster.  On arrival, we noted a rather long queue outside the station so we made a dash up the path along with about 30 others who had joined the train en-route to get our place in the queue.  Apparently only two windows were open and so we moved at snails pace.  With the 09:00 looking tight, a Severn Valley member announced that anyone with cash could pay on the train - Result a mad dash by everyone to the train.  This was the only cause for complaint in the whole day.  Would it not have been possible for someone to have a load of pre-printed tickets to stand on the gate to the station and serve people with cash only to speed up the queue allowing the booking office to deal with cheques / credit cards / other requests?  I think this would have saved a lot of time.

56006 piloting 37906 09:00 Kidderminster - Bewdley
A rousing departure just after 09:00 was provided by both EWS locos which looked immaculate.  Freightliner 57, 57012 was observed waiting to enter the yard which meant Freightliner had kept their word in sending it.  Slug 6 won the noise and clag competition with the grid however I wonder what the Lions thought in the Safari Park with these 2 beasts of the Iron rails opening up as we passed them?  Arrival at Bewdley saw 56006 removed for Slug 6 to make a solo effort to Bridgnorth.

37906 09:17 Bewdley - Bridgnorth (Bale at Hampton Loade)
Departure from Bewdley was noisy to say the least and as we were due to pass our first train at Hampton Loade, the driver had an excuse to show us what Slug 6 was capable of slowing and then accelerating hard leaving more clag behind than an of the steam fleet was capable of!  The station staff at Hampton Loade were brilliant all day as they allowed everyone to bale and join the train returning which I felt was good.  There was also plenty of slack in the timetable which allowed time to be made up.

D1013 09:35 Bridgnorth - Bewdley (Joined at Hampton Loade)
By bagging a seat in the last carriage would mean being in the front coach on departure from Kidderminster again later which was to be a good move.  It also allowed my Dad to re-live his childhood days of holidaying in Devon listening to Diesel-Hydraulic and Hoovers later.  Performance of Western Ranger was somewhat reserved in comparison to Slug 6.  More tender loving care being given by the driver as he couldn't afford to thrash it to death unlike Slug 6!

56006 piloting D1013 10:41 Bewdley - Kidderminster
The Grid was added at Bewdley for the trip back to Kidderminster.  It was here that we were to pass the first kettle of the day interestingly crewed by a fireperson (female) and so she incurred the yells of "Tea up" as she passed us on the footplate from virtually everyone who was window hanging.  The Grid did its best to match the Clag levels of Slug 6 but failed quite miserably although a good high-speed run in places was enjoyed back to Kidderminster.

50049 piloting 50007 11:15 Kidderminster - Bewdley
The power of the two Hoovers along with Clag levels were appreciated in the mid morning sun, the power of the pushing you into the back of your seat.  During the journey an interesting conversation broke out as to how to record the journey in peoples moves book.  Should it be noted as 50049 piloting 50007 Sir Edward Elgar or 50046 Ajax as it provided virtually everything except the bodyshell to Sir Edward?

50007 11:32 Bewdley - Bridgnorth (Bale at Hampton Loade)
Apparently the driver of Sir Edward had been a bit reserved with the power handle on Friday but today's journey was to be quite different with Sir Edward on song all the way.  The Second Kettle was passed at Arley to the shouts of more banter.  A plus 1 connection was at Hampton Loade although as we were in the first coach, the dash was just the length of Sir Edward although again the Guard on the Kidderminster train held it for us to join.

D1524 11:50 Bridgnorth - Bewdley (Join at Hampton Loade)
Having seen D1524 gleaming at Old Oak, I think its appearance had actually improved.  Performance was brisk with plenty of clag although we did slow considerably before stations before being allowed to enter.  A spin off of being at the back on this train was we would be at the front for the GM'ed 47 sent by Freightliner.

At Arley the Western Farewell re-run was passed which an immaculate headboard on the front.

50049 piloting D1524 12:56 Bewdley - Kidderminster
Defiance was added at Bewdley for the short trip back to Kidderminster.  Performance again was brisk although seeing BR Two Tone Green next to BR Blue, I feel that the green looked more pleasing.  After 50049s run to Glasgow a couple of weeks ago, the leisurely trip back to Kidderminster provided no problems.

57012 with 31108 13:30 Kidderminster - Bridgnorth (Bale at Hampton Loade)
The Brush combination were coupled ready to back on to our train on arrival.  The stock being used was ex LMS therefore Vacuum braked which was to pose some fun with the 57 being Air braked only.  The noise of the 31 being started up drowned out the 57 and this was to provide a taste of things to come.  Performance was mundane pretty much all the way with more sound coming from the 31 than the 57.  On the subject of braking it would have been advisable for the two drivers to talk before departure about how they were going to drive instead of having about 3 or 4 sudden lurches as we stopped at each station.  The Freightliner driver seemed content to just idle along with the 31 driver trying to give him a wake up with blasts of power to no avail.  A Kettle was passed at Bewdley virtually empty and Slug 6 was passed at Arley.

 D1013 / D1023 14:05 Bridgnorth - Kidderminster (Join at Hampton Loade)
The Westerns were rejoined for the trip back to Kiddy with performance slightly more exciting than in the morning.  The pair were gleaming and retained the headboard for the trip back.  Another Kettle at Arley showed another quarter filled train (Why run steam at a Diesel Gala?
- Too many "normals don't bother to read the timetable then moan if they arrive to find no steam locos working on "Britains Premier Steam Railway". Unfortunately, like it or not, "normals" pay to keep preserved railways running, not enthusiasts - Gary.) Defiance was passed again at Bewdley.

D1524 piloting D8000 15:45 Kidderminster - Bewdley
Time for another combination from Kidderminster.  The DMU Shuttle was running late which put us about 10 down on departure.  To compensate an excellent was assault was attained before Bewdley Tunnel with both locos clagging well.  Performance was brisk although we were still about 10 down at Bewdley.  Some quick work removed D1524 ready for D8000s assault to Bridgnorth.

D8000 16:02 Bewdley - Bridgnorth (Bale at Arley)
In order to catch our train home Arley had to be our destination instead of catching a Kettle which I did not want to do.  D8000 worked hard with its load 8 as we made our way to the end of the train in order to run over the bridge and catch the Warship back.  Virtually every window was taken as D8000 was enjoyed in the fading sun.  An interesting way of stopping the train was utilised in order to make sure the end coaches were in the station.  The Station staff whistled to another member at the top of the station who signalled to the driver.  The time delay in this meant leaving a gap of at least two coaches at the end of the platform although it gave us pole position for charging at the footbridge.

D821 15:35 Bridgnorth - Kidderminster (From Arley)
We finally left Arley 5 down which meant our Main Line connection was looking decidedly tight.  A good performance by the Warship made up a little time although we finally arrived at Kidderminster at 16:56 with our departure back to B'ham at 16:57.  The Dash across to the Central Trains station gave us the news that our train was running late.  All that effort for nothing.

158847 16:57 Kidderminster - Birmingham Snow Hill (12 late)
Compensation in the shape of a Class 158 instead of a Class 150 arrived looking very wet indeed.  The run back was uneventful allowing time to reflect on the day.

Verdict
A great Day out with great traction, weather and reasonable prices.  Out of the 12 diesel engines diagrammed, 11 were sampled with only 50031 being missed although this was sampled in the Valleys last year so not a great loss.  And at 15 for 11 locos and 84 miles of haulage, represented extremely good value.  The staff were great allowing no-one to miss anything and the majority of drivers got the best out of their machines.  I hope the Severn Valley repeat the gala again next year although maybe without the Kettles
(doubt it - see earlier comments - Gary)?

Adrian Knight

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