Highley

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Highley station (Wikimedia Commons)
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UpIn reference to the direction of travel means towards the major terminus (i.e. towards Kidderminster on the present day SVR) (towards Kidderminster) DownIn reference to the direction of travel means away from the major terminus (i.e. towards Bridgnorth on the present day SVR) (towards Bridgnorth)
Arley (2¼ miles) Hampton Loade (2 miles)
via Country Park Halt

Highley station is the only station on the SVRSevern Valley Railway with one platform (the other stops with single platforms being request halts). It also has a yard containing two sidings, controlled by Highley signal box. The yard, which is situated between the station platform and the signal box, is not signalled for through moves or passenger trains, but can be used to pass non-passenger trains with another train in the platform. On occasion a 'special' passenger train may cross with a scheduled passenger service; this is achieved by de-training the passengers from the 'special' and shunting the empty train into the yard while the passenger service passes.

The station building is constructed to the same standard as others on the line but of stone, probably quarried locally, rather than brick.

Facilities

The station has a small kiosk serving snacks and hot and cold drinks. There is also a station fund second hand bookshop in the the grounded body of GWR Horse Box 542 on the platform. A picnic area is located next to the signal box, opposite the platform.

The Engine House is situated approximately 200 yards from Highley Station, on the opposite side of the line from the platform. This can be reached via a footbridge which is located at the south end of the station. There is also a foot crossing which the public may use, except when a train is approaching or standing in the station.

Highley Station Fund

The Fund raises funds by operating the shop. It owns shares In Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) PLC and also owns BR 891054 Cattle Van and GWR 3429 Fruit D Van.

Highley history before preservation

  • 1862: Highley station opened with the rest of the Severn Valley Line on 1 February, with only one platform and no facility for crossing trains. At the time the population of Highley village was only 407[1].
  • 1869: The GWRGreat Western Railway approved the installation of a cattle dock.
  • 1870s: Highley Colliery came into production. This resulted in a growth of both passenger and goods traffic at Highley.
  • 1880: A siding was provided for a stone quarry opposite the station worked by Mr Baker of Kidderminster. It became disused following his death in about 1881.
  • 1882-1883: Approval was given for the platform to be extended and additional sidings installed, resulting in the present layout. A new signal box and interlocking was installed; the Board of Trade approved these works in June 1883. Evidence of the platform extension can be seen as a change in the platform face and surface between the Highley Station Fund shop and the end of the platform.
  • 1908: The General Manager recommended that additional sidings and a passing loop should be provided. In the event the work was not undertaken, as a result of which it was never possible to pass passenger trains at Highley.
  • 1912-1915: Approval was given for construction of a footbridge, which was a steel lattice-girder structure of two spans. The bridge was reluctantly deemed beyond economic repair and demolished by the SVRSevern Valley Railway in 1974. It was situated in the same location as the current footbridge which dates from 2009.
  • 1921: The population of Highley had reached 1,985, with at least 500 employed at the colliery. Over the following years passenger numbers remained high while beginning to fall elsewhere on the line; during the 1930s Highley averaged 20,000 ticket sales per year which exceeded both Stourport and Bridgnorth.
  • 1963: Through passenger services ceased on 9 September, with through freight services ending at the end of November.
GWRGreat Western Railway Traffic statistics for Highley, selected years prior to 1939[2]
Passenger Traffic Freight Traffic
Year Tickets issued Parcels despatched Revenue (£) Tons received & despatched Revenue (£) Total revenue (£)
1903 17,559 3,247 1,185 140,939 24,372 25,557
1913 29,030 7,308 2,515 219,271 32,774 35,289
1923 22,234 4,873 2,838 175,115 41,695 44,533
1933 21,548 6,237 1,877 177,543 24,932 26,809
1938 21,335 6,584 1,606 154,202 23,128 24,734

Historic maps of Highley Station and mine

  • GWRGreat Western Railway plan circa 1880 showing the station
  • Detail from the GWRGreat Western Railway plan showing the Stone Quarry siding
  • 1884 map showing the station and location of the mine
  • 1903 map showing the rail connection to the mine

Points of interest

Opening in preservation

The SVRSevern Valley Railway first ran trains from Bridgnorth via Hampton Loade to Highley on the April 1974 Easter weekend. The first passenger service was the 09:30 from Bridgnorth with GWR Railcar 22, followed by the 12:45 steam service hauled by No 600 Gordon. The weekend saw 16,000 passenger journeys.

For the next month, Highley was the southern terminus of the SVRSevern Valley Railway while repair work to the underbridge south of the station was completed. In Mid-May 1974, through services to Arley and Bewdley began.

Visitor Centre

In 2001 a new 'visitor centre' opened at Highley, housed in TPO 80300[3]. This continued in us until replaced by The Engine House.

The line north of Highley

Highley platform is on a curve of 18 chainsAs a unit of measurement, 22 yards or 1/80th of a mile radius. Leaving the station northwards towards Bridgnorth, the line rises at a gradient of 1 in 100, passing successively through a left hand curve of 20 chainsAs a unit of measurement, 22 yards or 1/80th of a mile radius, another left hand curve of 17 chainsAs a unit of measurement, 22 yards or 1/80th of a mile radius ( the sharpest curve on the whole line), and a right hand curve of 18 chainsAs a unit of measurement, 22 yards or 1/80th of a mile radius. This combination of curves and gradient can make departures from Highley awkward for drivers, especially with slippery rail conditions. The original route of the line was planned to be more direct. However during construction in 1859, unstable ground resulted in a major land slip, requiring the deviation still seen today.

Water tower

The water tower came from the ex-LNWRLondon & North Western Railway station at Whitchurch in Shropshire and was installed by the SVRSevern Valley Railway on the site of the original cattle dock. After the cattle dock was dismantled in autumn 1979, a hole 8’ by 6’ by 6’ was dug for the foundation block which was cast on 29 May 1980 using 8 cubic metres of concrete. The tower complete with 2,500 gallon tank was lifted into place on 9 May 1981 using 30 ton steam crane RS 1091. Appropriately 3205 became the first locomotive to take water on Saturday 20 June 1981 during the GW Weekend.[4] Unlike at Bridgnorth and Kidderminster, the water supply at Highley is not specially treated, and so the column is only used on rare occasions such as galas.

Cattle dock

The cattle dock is situated broadly in the original 1869 location, although it is an SVRSevern Valley Railway re-construction. The original cattle dock became unsafe and was dismantled in the autumn of 1979; the fill used by the GWRGreat Western Railway during its original construction was found to consist mainly of old broken tiles![4] The new cattle dock was temporarily removed during the repair work following the 2007 storm damage. The photograph below shows the view in 2005, two years before the storm damage. The cattle dock and water tower can both be seen; construction of The Engine House had not yet begun. Also notable is the absence of lineside fencing at that time.

A major refurbishment of the cattle dock's wooden structure began in May 2017.

Crane

A (non-operational) hand powered crane is located on a small platform in the goods yard. The winding gear appears identical to that on the wooden crane in Bewdley Goods Shed. The refurbished crane was erected in August 1992[5].

Token changing equipment

The 2005 photograph above shows token changing equipment, similar to that at Bewdley, to the left of the line. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 45 includes a picture of this being used in 1977, with the driver of a southbound train in the process of placing the Hampton Loade to Highley token on the nearer pole while the Highley-Arley token awaits collection on the further pole. Photographic evidence suggests it survived the 2007 washout[6], but was removed, dismantled and stored, during the subsequent reinforcement of the ground on which it stood[7].

Refreshment kiosk

The refreshment kiosk stands on the site of the original GWRGreat Western Railway porter's hut which was demolished in 1974 during the early days of preservation at Highley. During 1981, volunteers began construction of a replacement kiosk in the style of the original hut but with larger windows to act as a serving hatch. It was officially opened by Avril Rowlands, the author of God's Wonderful Railway, on Sunday 25 April 1982 during the Spring Gala.[8]

Awards

When first taken over by the SVRSevern Valley Railway, Highley Station was in a very dilapidated condition. The standard of restoration has won a number of awards, including the ‘Best Preserved Station’ award in 1982. Plaques commemorating these awards can be seen in the waiting room.

Gallery

Sharpo's World photos at Highley, showing station buildings, signalbox etc. before the Engine House was built

See also

List of stations
Highley Station Footbridge
2007 Storm Damage
The Engine House
List of film and TV productions filmed on the Severn Valley Railway
Highley Colliery Company

References

Marshall (1989), p99-100
Vanns (1998), p62
  1. Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales, John Marius Wilson, 1870-72
  2. Nabarro (1971) p. 54.
  3. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 137
  4. 4.04.1 SVRSevern Valley Railway News 61
  5. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 105
  6. Sowden (2012), P19
  7. Sowden (2012), P23
  8. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 64

Links

Highley Station web site