A Brief History of the Line

As with all the railway lines in Britain: the Severn Valley Railway’s history is a storied one.

After a topographical survey was taken of the area by a number of investors and planners, building of the railway line began in 1858.

In the wake of the Industrial revolution Britain had changed beyond recognition; put simply, the landscape of Britain was changing. Where once green farm land stretched for mile upon mile, now the industrial buildings, more associated with the city, were starting to be built in the countryside, providing valuable employment for thousands of Britons whose traditional jobs working the land were now starting to be replaced by ever-improving agricultural machinery.

By 1862 work on the line had been completed, linking up many disparate rural locations and creating a simple, affordable way for the inhabitants of those villages to travel through the area. Communities from Hartlebury, Shrewsbury, Stourport-on-Sever and even Cressage were now just a train ride away. The original line stretched for over 40 miles and for 100 years played a vital part in the development of thousands of people.

In 1963 Britain was changing once more.

The national rail nationalisation programme had begun in earnest, so for the first time in a century the rail line was closed to the public – although this wouldn’t remain the case for long. Two years later fifty local people, all enthusiastic supporters of the Severn Valley Railway, met at the Coopers Arms in Kidderminster. Although the original plan was to purchase only 5 and a half miles of the original railway line, support for the newly formed Society soon snowballed and their sights began to aim higher.

Backed by MP and Knight, Gerald Nabarro, the Society was soon barrelling towards claiming its prize. In 1970, after the initial purchase was made, a Light Railway Order was granted so that the SVR could once more serve the public. Operating between Bridgnorth and Hampton Loade, these early services proved immensely popular amongst both the young, who might not have seen a steam-engine based train before and the old who yearned for the simpler times of the pre-war years. Within a few years, as coal trains ceased to use the line, the SVR were able to purchase yet more stretches of the track until they owned the full 16 and a half miles that we know and love today.

Despite the apparent popularity the SVR had with the British public, its continued success has not always been guaranteed. In the mid-eighties the construction of a bypass road threatened to obliterate Bridgnorth Station, thankfully this outcome was avoided. Since then the Severn Valley Railway Society has been able to build stations of their own, linking the historical railway up with the rest of the British rail network, whilst maintaining the vintage aesthetic of yesteryear.

Today, the Severn Valley Railway exists as a unique time capsule: serving as a reminder as to how our country used to be.


If you’d like to take a ride on the Severn Valley Railways or even take part in one of the one-off experiences that the SVR run on a regular basis then head to their site to find out more.