Sterns is a location between Hampton Loade and Bridgnorth, at the foot of Eardington Bank at approximately MP 147. It is the point at which the River Severn is closest to the railway, and is notorious as a maintenance trouble spot, due to the ground regularly slipping towards the river many times over the history of the railway, especially after periods of heavy rain. The line of telegraph poles adjacent to the railway vividly illustrates this, with one post having been carried away from the line by ground movements since the mid-1970s, now only just visible in the trees towards the river.
SVRSevern Valley RailwaySVRA:Severn Valley Railway AssociationSVRS:Severn Valley Railway Society News and newsletters regularly refer to repair work at Sterns. Some examples are as follows:
- Over the winter of 1976-77, intense cold followed by heavy rain resulted in the line dropping 2ft 6" and moving 4ft nearer the river.
- In 1994-95 ten feet of river bank was washed away, triggering further slippage. 3,000 tons of rock was deposited on the river bank as a temporary measure.
- In the Summer 2007 storm damage, the first severe thunderstorm did not affect Sterns, but further slips began in the following weeks as the wet weather continued. Part of the solution involved building a 150 foot long piled concrete retaining wall alongside Sterns Cottage, the house alongside the line on the side nearer the river.
- In February 2014, evidence of further subsidence appeared with a significant dip in the line. Pictures of the repair work in progress can be seen in this news archive page on the SVR Live web site.
- Following extensive flooding in February 2020 land movements were again observed. A comprehensive drainage network was proposed to collect rainwater and transport it to the river in an efficient manner before it can get down to the slip planes and exacerbate the problem.
The section of line through Sterns was for many years under a strict 5mph speed limit, with drainage improvements and earthworks in 2013/14 finally allowing for the limit to be increased to 15mph (although further ground movement led to the reinstatement of a lower temporary speed limit soon after). A consequence of this speed restriction is that northbound trains are made to work harder as they are prevented from ‘taking a run’ at Eardington Bank.
Access for photography
Travelling South on the B4555 follow the road past Eardington station. A large layby can be found on the right hand side of the road which is ideally suited to the location at Sterns, accessed via the left turn just before the road diverges underneath the railway.
- SVRSevern Valley RailwaySVRA:Severn Valley Railway AssociationSVRS:Severn Valley Railway Society News 52 p26 notes that the poles were adjacent to the track until shortly before 1979.
- Branch Lines, June 2020 (Retrieved 26 June 2020)