For over 100 years the original Severn Valley Railway served the communities and industries along its route between Shrewsbury and Worcester forming part of the national network initially for the Great Western Railway until nationalisation in 1948 when British Railways took over. Like many lines across the country it fell victim to changing traffic patterns and the growth in road transport which resulted in progressive closures, with the final working on the Kidderminster to Bewdley section in 1970.
However the railway closure was not accepted by many enthusiasts. In 1965 a group formed the Severn Valley Railway Society. The ideas of those early pioneers came to fruition over the ensuing years as the line reopened in stages culminating in the restoration of passenger services on the full length of the preserved line from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster in July 1984.
The line is a major tourist attraction varying around 250,000 passengers a year and provides a wide range of facilities from corporate hospitality to a schools education service. The olde worlde charm of the line’s country stations and unspoilt scenery has provided locations for much film and television work including, with some irony, the BBC’s situation comedy based on a country station threatened with closure ‘Oh Doctor Beeching’!
The Severn Valley Railway of today follows the meandering course of the River Severn form the Shropshire town of Bridgnorth, through the villages of Hampton Loade, Highley and Arley, to the Worcestershire town of Bewdley where it leaves the river and heads east to terminate at Kidderminster. The journey passes through varied and mostly untouched landscapes between a number of beautifully restored country stations from which one can gain access to local villages and riverside walks.
Mike Heath’s photographic portrail takes a personal journey from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster and back calling off at each station en route. Through over 140 glorious colour photographs he captures the real atmosphere of this busy railway, revealing it to be, truly, ‘a line for all seasons’.
ISBN 1841144444, hardback, 214x230mm, 144 pages.