The SVRSevern Valley Railway Apprentices was originally known as the SVRSevern Valley Railway Junior Club, although it is still sometimes referred to by the earlier name. The Club enables youngsters who are interested in railways to apply to join in various activities. The railway provides the Ambulance coach in Bewdley Down Yard as a mess coach and Club Room.
It should not be confused with the Heritage Skills Training Academy which offers formal Apprenticeships to the over 16s.
The Junior Club has been the initial stepping-stone for many of the younger current SVRSevern Valley Railway volunteers, enough in total to run the railway as was demonstrated during 'Don's Day' in August 2015. The Club supervisors are SVRSevern Valley Railway members have some railway knowledge who work with the youngsters on a regular basis and in all weather conditions, and hold an enhanced DBS.
As the SVRSevern Valley Railway Junior Club it has a small shareholding in Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) PLC.
The SVRSevern Valley Railway Junior Club was formed in 1990 with a launch weekend being held on the 7-8 July. The club was originally for 8-13 year olds, and the club mascot was ‘Jimmy the Jinty’.
In 1991 the Club organised a memorial train to raise funds for the Blue Peter Romanian appeal. Another charity train ran on 16 May 1992 in memory of David Williams, a former SVRSevern Valley Railway TTI and treasurer of the Club who had passed away in March 1992.
From 1995, new insurance and health and safety regulations were introduced which prevented children under 14 from working on the railway. The Club was split into two sections, ‘Jinties’ aged 8 and under and ‘Apprentices’ aged 9-13. In 1996 the Apprentices first dressed in animal character costumes as part of that year’s Santa Special services. As a thank you, traditionally the Club organised a get together early in January, with food prepared by the senior supervisors. The buffet lunch is rounded off with suitably educational railway films.
By 2007 the ‘Junior Apprentice Club’ members’ ages ranged from 10-14.
Before the (COVID-19) pandemic it was organised in two groups, those aged 11 to 12 and those aged 13. It was limited to eight in the younger group and six in the older to work safely and allow the Volunteer Liaison Office to place the 14 year olds in the limited places available for senior apprentices, although this could lead to a long waiting list.
The Club was suspended during the pandemic. In 2022 a series of appeals were made for new volunteers to take over from the ageing committee. The club was relaunched in late 2022, again for 11-14 year olds.
Social activities continue and Apprentices assist with Santa Special services, though no longer in animal character costumes.
Club members assist with the Coalyard Miniature Railway. The Club also joins other members on the SVRSevern Valley Railway stand attending Warley National Model Railway Exhibition.
In early years they took part in working parties involved in restoring Northwood Halt. Other projects in which SVRSevern Valley Railway Apprentices have been involved include GWR 4930 Hagley Hall, Barry Railway Carriage 163, LNER 24506 Brake Third and LNER 52255 Open Third.
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 113
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 95
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 103
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 122
- SVRLive (Retrieved 11 October 2018)
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 157
- SVR VLO website
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 219 Autumn 2022
- SVRSevern Valley Railway News 220
- [https://www.svrlive.com/blnov22 Branch Lines November 2022
- [https://www.svrlive.com/bldec22 Branch Lines December 2022