David Skitt – The Severn Valley Railway.
74 Members of the History Group enjoyed an illustrated talk on the Severn Valley Railway, given by David Skitt at the April 2013 meeting. He presented his information with humour, detail and many anecdotes, giving us the historical background of the railway, the current circumstances and also a pictorial ‘journey’ from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth.
He explained the birth of the railway building boom of the mid 1850’s and how the rail system spread over the midland region, evolving into the Great Western Railway. He then charted the history of the railway to its demise at the hands of Dr Beeching in 1963 and the subsequent purchase and development of the track and stock to create what is now known as the Severn Valley Railway.
Following this, David took us on an illustrated ‘journey’ on the SVR, from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth, detailing the interesting and special features of the ‘ride’ and the stations along the route and revealing to us film-making moments involving the SVR. He also explained the signalling system and the token system both of which are an integral part of the journey. David also paid tribute to the invaluable contribution of both the paid staff and the volunteers on the railway, helping with the operation , preservation and education.
To conclude, David mentioned some of the Special Weekends held by the SVR eg the ‘Santa Specials’, which are always popular in the run up to Christmas; the 40’s Weekends, which attract huge numbers of visitors in the summer; and the Spring and Autumn Steam Galas, among others. He added that the Observation Coach is a memorable way to travel to commemorate a significant event and that the Engine Shed at Highley is well worth visiting at any time.
David’s presentation was very well received and he was warmly thanked for his excellent talk.