‘West Country’ No. 34027 Taw Valley hauled a special train on the Severn Valley Railway on June 19 to mark the 10th anniversary of the devastating floods which nearly destroyed the railway.
Working alongside a Class 50 Co-Co, the rebuilt ‘Light Pacific’ hauled the Belmond ‘Northern Belle’ over the 16-mile railway between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth, carrying a number of SVR members and supporters, passing along the sections of track which were badly damaged by the storms.
The VIP services also coincided with the official launch of the brand-new exhibition, ‘2007 Storm Damage – Ten Years On’ at The Engine House Visitor Centre, Highley, which features a number of striking photographs highlighting the extent of the damage to the railway caused by the storms in 2007.
The train ran ten years to the day since the first of two torrential rainstorms swept through the West Midlands, in which a month’s worth of rain fell in the space of 30 minutes, causing significant damage to the railway.
A further storm on July 20 2007 caused further damage to the southern end of the line, with cuttings filled with debris and embankments washed away leaving track suspended in mid-air.
Such was the damage, only a section of line between Kidderminster and Bewdley remained open to traffic, with the final repair bill topping £3.8million.
Clare Gibbard, the SVR’s Marketing and Communications Manager said: “Looking back to that fateful summer, ten years on, it is almost unbelievable to think that the aftermath of those storms threatened to destroy the future of the SVR altogether.
“It is thanks to the incredible level of goodwill, support and hard work from our volunteer and paid staff, supporters and the general public at the time that the SVR is the thriving attraction that it is today.”