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11 February 2015

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You are in: Hereford and Worcester > In Pictures > Photo Galleries > Around Hereford and Worcester > It was 40 years ago

It was 40 years ago

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Do you have special memories of the Severn Valley Railway? Let us know your memories.

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Ray Hulley
I can remember clearly a journey that I took on the Severn Valley railway in July 1961. This same trip has been taken by several thousand of Royal Air Force Regular and National Servicemen every week for several years in the 1950s as part of the journey from RAF Cardington, where recruits first joined the RAF to be kitted out with their uniform, have a medical check-up and, in the case of National Servicemen, take education and intelligence tests to determine their RAF trades for the next two years, and RAF Bridgnorth, the No. 7 School of Recruit Training.We set out from Cardington railway station (now closed) in the morning with a packed lunch making us feel like being on a Sunday school outing! We made our way to Bridgnorth by special troop train via Bedford and Northampton, where the train stopped for 10 minutes for all on board to get a cuppa from the Salvation Army tea bar on the platform. We then carried on to Birmingham via Rugby, Coventry and on to Snow Hill, Stourbridge Junction and Kidderminster, where we joined the Severn Valley railway of the GWR.On our arrival at Bridgnorth station, the atmosphere completely changed for the worse. Instead of being 'looked after' by the friendly NCOs from Cardington, we were subjected to a torrent of shouting and abuse from the Bridgnorth NCOs, all of whom acted like little Hitlers! I had never been more scared in my life, and this was the impression of all the other recruits. So Bridgnorth station is firmly etched in my memory as a place where my life changed dramatically, and the next seven weeks of my initial recruit training was a continuation of the same treatment meted out at Bridgnorth station. But that's another story - recalled in my submission to the RAF Bridgnorth website.

Neil Ainsworth
When I was 10 my best friend lived opposite the station at Bridgnorth and as the line had closed we played on the tracks, walked through the tunnel, crept into the old workshops to play, and generally made mischief in this industrial abandoned playground. I recall there was a small plate layers trolley which we comandeered - two axles and a loose timber deck which was originally used by rail workers. We would push it to the Daniels Mill bridge and let it roll back into the station only to crash into the buffers unceremonially tipping off all those who were brave enough to remain clinging to the oily timber deck. It would take 6 to 8 of us boys to lift the deck back onto the axles ready for another run down the grade into the station.All things you shouldn’t do but it was an adventure to young boys.One sunny afternoon in the school holidays we had been watching the signal box beilng demolished, we looked inside and saw levers, cables and all sorts being stripped out. There was a big yellow JCB parked next to the signal box wall and when the workers went for lunch we found ourselves climbing into the cab and pulling this knob and that and making engine sounds as all little boys do.My friend pointed to a key with its ring hanging down. I don’t remember which one of us turned it but the engine sprang to life causing the machine to lurch forward heading in the direction of the edge of the platform and a 3 foot drop onto the lines.The front bucket was down and as the yellow monster moved forward with the bucket scraping along the ground there was a steel spike sticking out of the ground. The spike was the remnants of the fixed goods loading crane which had been removed some weeks before. The bucket hit the spike, the JCB juddered and stalled. The workmen, alerted by the noise, emerged, sandwiches and tea in hand, to see what was happening. We jumped down and fled to avoid a telling off, or worse.The workmen didn’t hold a grudge because only a few days later they allowed us to scrounge some old tools. I still have the pick axe given to me. I dont know what on earth the workman thought a 10 year old was going to do with such a tool but I treasured it.Later we found ourselves playing on the lines between the station and the tunnel when we spied a strange machine. It was a small engine, about the size of a lawn mower, sat on a cross beam running on the lines on some small wheels. The engine could move from side to side and drove a box spanner. The workman could position the engine and lower the spanner onto the bolts securing the rail onto the sleeper.. We were curious and after watching him remove many bolts, asked what he was doing. He told us he was unsecuring the bolts so he could remove the rails. Shortly aftewards he went off for a break, when he returned he was refixing the bolts he had undone only hours before. We asked him why he was doing this and he said that he had been told to as the station had just been bought. This was the dawn of the Severn Valley Railway. Our days of our own private railway adventure playground were over.

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