Shropshire Railways History Past and present

                           Shrewsbury to Bridgnorth

Parliament agreed in 1853 to build the original Severn Valley Railway, thus linking the County Towns of Shropshire and Worcestershire. Regular services started between Shrewsbury and Hartlebury Junction on 1 st  February 1862, operated by West Midlands Railways. There were plenty of engineering challenges on the route which followed very closely to the course of the river Severn. Apart from there being a number of steep gradients to overcome, numerous viaducts and several tunnels were required, including one over the town of Bridgnorth. The track was built as a single line all the way with passing loops at most stations where two platforms were available. Along the line there were 13 intermediate stations. In the early days there were four daily passenger trains each way from Shrewsbury to Bridgnorth with further services available south to Hartlebury. There was also a steady flow of freight traffic, mainly coming from Highley in the form of coal wagons from the local mines, but also from agricultural traffic in this very rural area where the farming industry would have been a major employee. In July 1872 the line became incorporated into the GWR and they opened up a link from Bewdley to Kidderminster. Bewdley then became an important junction, with many trains from Hartlebury running north to Bridgnorth, and Kidderminster trains running East on the line to Wofferton via Tenbury.   By the 1930’s passenger trains still ran regularly despite falling passenger numbers. Like many of its counterparts the SVR opened up new halts on the line in a bid to increase its usage. The Severn Valley Railway was never financially successful, but like many other lines it was given a renewed lease of life with the outbreak of World War Two; the SVR served a large RAF camp near Bridgnorth. After the war traffic declined further and neighbouring lines started to close. In 1961 the Wofferton line via Tenbury closed; thus leaving the southern section of the SVR around Bewdley very vulnerable with an uncertain future ahead of it. When the Bewdley to Tenbury closed in 1962 it was clear that the SVR was under serious threat. By 1963 the axe had fallen and the last train from Bridgnorth to Shrewsbury ran at 7 27pm on Saturday 9 th  September in that year. Coal traffic continued for another six years until 1969 when the line was closed completely north of Bewdley. Passenger traffic continued between Bewdley, Kidderminster and Hartlebury Junction until the final axe fell on 3 rd  January 1970. It then looked like the end of the SVR for ever; but many local people had other ideas………………plans for a restoration was already well under the way!
The South Tunnel entrance at Bridgnorth