So the Severn Valley Railway (SVR) announce a series of Diesel Running Days during September to create some much needed revenue during this difficult year. As there’s been no gigs and nearly all social events cancelled, this looked like a great day out and good excuse to meet up with old friends, drink cider/ ale and enjoy some Diesel Hydraulic haulage following the route of the River Severn! Originally, the SVR announced that the Clayton D8568, would be working but this was shelved and D821 was to be it’s replacement. A bonus as far as our little group were concerned. So a compartment was booked on board the train for 4 for us and a dog and hotels booked in Kidderminster for a couple of nights and we had something to look forward to!
So, for the benefit of those reading this who have limited knowledge of Diesel hydraulic locomotives, here’s a bit of an introduction to D821 Greyhound.
British Railways class 42, Warship Diesel Hydraulic locos were introduced from 1958 to replace steam locos on the Western Region. They were based on a West German design of the V200 locomotive and scaled down to suit the British loading gauge. D821 was built at Swindon Works and introduced to traffic in May 1960. It spent it’s short working life allocated at Laira (Plymouth) and Newton Abbot and was withdrawn in December 1972 when British Railways decided that Diesel Hydraulic traction was non standard and gradually phased it out, being replaced by more standard Diesel Electric locomotives that operated all over the network. Following withdrawal, D821 languished at Laira for 6 months and was purchased for preservation by the Diesel Traction Group (DTG). It was the first main line diesel loco to be preserved by a private group and moved to Didcot Railway Centre on 24/5/72 under it’s own power. It has moved around over the years, with a spells at the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and currently at the Severn Valley Railway. It has attended many open days and special events at preserved Railways from Llangollen, East Lancs Railway (Bury), West Somerset Railway (Minehead) and even ended up at Falmouth, when it was twinned with a Royal Naval ship and was renamed “Cornwall” (Good name!!)
So after a cooked breakfast at the Gainsborough Hotel, Pete and I walked into Kidderminster to collect the wristbands from the SVR booking office. There is a curious shop outside in Kidderminster, which sells CB Radio and Guns! (Have I gone back in time and found myself in the USA?) I could not resist a photo of this shop for my friend Clive (who likes photos of shop fronts … whatever floats your boat!)
We were allocated a compartment for the day and for 75 quid (split 4 ways) which seemed very good value. Three return trips between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth with adequate time for (pub/food/toilet!) breaks during the day and getting back to Kidderminster at 19.30, just in time for a curry before retiring for the night. We met Chris, Ade and his chocolate lab called Jasper and boarded the train, ready for 09.45 departure to Bridgnorth. This was the first time we’d managed to meet up for quite some time (thanks to lockdown and that bloody virus!) and we’d come prepared with bags full of ale and cider. Ade had brought along a couple of two litre bottles full of yellow liquid (which looked like the bottles of liquid that lorry drivers throw out of their cabs and litter the hard shoulder of the motorways!) Thankfully, this yellow liquid was Newton Court Cider (near Leominster)which was a first press at 5.8%. It was absolutely delicious! As a follow up, Chris had brought along some bottles of Cider House Special at 7.3% … a semi sparkling premium cider from Bridgnorth … which was the destination we were heading for! That went down a treat as well!
Severn Valley Railway
The 09.45 departed bang on time with D821 Greyhound at the sharp end and made it’s way past the loco shed at Kidderminster (which houses the 51 of the preserved class 50 locomotives!) It then passes the West Midlands Safari Park at Bewdley. From the train you get to see the elephants and the white rhinos. We were looking out for “Inesh” a baby white rhino, which was born earlier this year. I saw mum and dad rhino and Aidee caught a glimpse of little “Inesh” as the train made it’s way towards Bewdley. It was past 10am, so time to crack open the cider! The conversation flowed, as did the cider and Jasper made himself comfortable on the floor of the compartment as we travelled the 16 miles towards Bridgnorth. The “Warship” performed well and could be heard thrashing away up front. My lords!!!
On arrival at Bridgnorth, a class 14 Diesel Hydraulic “shunter” was attached to the front of the train to run back to Kidderminster with D821 as a pair. This loco was to assist/hinder D821 for the rest of the day! These preserved railways love to “play trains” … why use one loco, when you can put two or sometimes three on the front! Anyway, it all adds to the entertainment. It gave D821 an additional 54 tonnes to haul as well as coaches on the train!
The SVR has a public house at each end of the line, both conveniently situated on the stations. Kidderminster has the “King and Castle” and Bridgnorth has the “Railwayman’s Arms”. Both are usually very good but on this trip, mainly thanks to the Covid 19 rules and regulations, we found the “table service” at the Railwayman’s Arms so slow that we gave up and saved ourselves for the Fish and Chip shop outside Kidderminster station and then a pint of mild at the King and Castle (I actually asked for a pint of pale, hoppy ale … and a pint of mild appeared!!) The mild was actually very tasty, so much so that I ordered another one! Great service at this pub and a pleasant atmosphere as we sat at a table in the main concourse of this Victorian railway station. Good selection of ales and cider as well.
Here’s the actual locomotive workings for the enthusiasts!
- D821 Greyhound ~ 09.45 Kidderminster to Bridgnorth.
- D9551 + D821 Greyhound ~ 11.40 Bridgnorth to Kidderminster.
- D9551 (D821 Greyhound on rear) ~ 13.15 Kidderminster to Bridgnorth.
- D821 Greyhound (D9551 on rear) ~ 14.45 Bridgnorth to Kidderminster.
- D821 Greyhound + D9551 ~ 17.00 Kidderminster to Bridgnorth.
- D821 Greyhound ~ 18.30 Bridgnorth to Kidderminster.
Apparently on Friday 23/10/20, the SVR will be running another one of these days using heritage Diesel locomotives. This time D1062 Western Courier and 40106 and it’s likely to be the last one this year.