Severn Valley Railway Company Limited
Severn Valley Railway Company Limited is a Company Limited by Guarantee (for which reason it is normally referred to on the SVRSevern Valley Railway as "the Guarantee Company").
Attempts to preserve the Severn Valley Railway began in 1965 with The Severn Valley Railway Society (SVRSSevern Valley Railway Society). However for legal reasons it was necessary for a Company, rather than a Society, to acquire and operate the railway. The Guarantee Company was therefore formed in May 1967 to negotiate the purchase of the line between Bridgnorth and Alveley Sidings, and to obtain the Light Railway Order (LROLight Railway Order) to operate the first section of line between Bridgnorth and Hampton Loade.
From 1967 to 1969 the Guarantee Company worked towards this end, while the SVRSSevern Valley Railway Society remained the ‘public face’ of the SVRSevern Valley Railway. By late 1979, with the legal process coming towards a conclusion, the membership agreed that the Guarantee Company was now the organisation with which to go forward, so the SVRSSevern Valley Railway Society was merged into the Guarantee Company on 6 December that year.
The SVRSevern Valley Railway, operated by the Guarantee Company, began services in May 1970. However the next stages of development, including purchase of the southern end of the line to Foley Park and ultimately Kidderminster, required substantial investment. A Public Company with a Share Capital was considered a more suitable vehicle for this, leading to the formation of Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) Ltd. ("SVRSevern Valley Railway(H)") in March 1972.
When SVRSevern Valley Railway(H) was formed, it was envisaged that the Guarantee Company would no longer be required, leading to the creation of another organisation, the Severn Valley Railway Association (SVRASevern Valley Railway Association). However it transpired that the existing LROLight Railway Order could not be transferred to SVRSevern Valley Railway(H) at that time, so the Guarantee Company remained in existence. The activities of the SVRASevern Valley Railway Association were eventually merged into the Guarantee Company from October 2015, although an issue with its SVRH shareholding, ring-fencing unspent lottery monies and transferring assets meant winding up of the SVRASevern Valley Railway Association was took until 2022 to be concluded.
In due course SVRSevern Valley Railway(H) assumed responsibility for the ownership of the infrastructure and operation of the SVRSevern Valley Railway.
Although it no longer owns the line, the Guarantee Company is still an active part of the Severn Valley Railway. It remains as the SVRSevern Valley Railway’s membership arm and provides volunteer staff to operate the railway (all volunteers must be members). The SVRSevern Valley Railway has around 10,800 members and membership is by subscription. Members receive preferential rates of travel.
It has the largest shareholding in SVRSevern Valley Railway(H): in 2022 it was 17.93% of issued capital (1,972,467 shares). It nominates three directors to the SVRSevern Valley Railway(H) board, increased from two in 2015 when it merged with the SVRASevern Valley Railway Association.
It also publishes Severn Valley Railway News, a quarterly magazine, free to members.
The VLO organises a Volunteer Reward Scheme, a monthly draw using the database of working volunteers, funded by the Guarantee Board. Winners receive a small value of vouchers to spend on the SVRSevern Valley Railway.
It arranges with an annual 'Pig Roast', a thank you evening for paid staff and volunteers, at The Engine House. Until 2022 it was jointly funded with SVRSevern Valley Railway(H).
- The SVR Organisation
- The Severn Valley Railway Company (19th Century)
- Guarantee Company chairmen and SVR General Managers
- SVR fundraising lotteries
- Guarantee Company Annual Reports ending 31 December 2019; 31 December 2020, p. 5; 31 December 2021, p. 3; and 31 December 2022, p. 8
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 215, Autumn 2021
- SVRSevern Valley Railway(G) Financial Statements for the year ended 31 December 2022