Rail 150

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Rail 150 at Shildon included 4 SVRSevern Valley Railway locos (Wikimedia Commons)

The Rail 150 celebrations took place at the large railway wagon works in Shildon, Co. Durham, in 1975. It was held to mark the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Stockton & Darlington Railway in 1825.

It comprised an exhibition of locomotives and rolling stock from 24 to 30 August, followed by a ‘Grand Steam Cavalcade’ of locomotives on 31 August from Shildon to Heighington.[1]

Other events included the opening of North Road Station Museum at Darlington and the Timothy Hackworth Museum at Shildon.[2] It also coincided with the opening of the National Railway Museum at Leeman Road, York[3].

SVRSevern Valley Railway involvement

During summer 1974 the SVRSevern Valley Railway received a request from the organisers to provide a number of items of SVRSevern Valley Railway rolling stock for the forthcoming event. The original request was for five locomotives; 43106, 70000 Britannia, 8233, 600 Gordon and 813, together with four carriages; GWR 1145, GWR 5883, LMS 12992 and LNER 10078.[4]

A total of 65 locomotives had originally been planned to be exhibited at Shildon, although this was eventually reduced to around 35 by BRBritish Rail or British Railways inspections and non-readiness. The SVRSevern Valley Railway's only non-attendee was 70000 Britannia, whose restoration including firebox repairs was still in progress (and would not be completed until 1978). Work on transforming Gordon from a working locomotive into a 'museum exhibit' began in mid-June and included a repaint into fully lined Longmoor Blue livery. The time for preparing the SVRSevern Valley Railway's other attendees was even more limited, with both 43106 and 8233 in regular SVRSevern Valley Railway service until early July before cleaning and painting could begin. At the same time BRBritish Rail or British Railways needed the locomotives to be delivered earlier than anticipated, due to their difficulties on finding sufficient crews with steam experience in an area of the country which had been 'steam-free' for almost eight years. For several weeks all three locos were …worked on furiously in Bridgnorth yard with "...a great deal of weekend, weekday and evening activity."[5] GWRGreat Western Railway 813, which had spent a number of years undergoing restoration, was re-assembled and cosmetically restored, including painting and lettering at Bewdley, travelling to Shildon by road to appear as a static exhibit.[6]

None of the four SVRSevern Valley Railway carriages originally requested appeared at the event. Restoration work on 5883 was unfinished, with its place at Shildon taken by 'Clapham' Buffet 9631 whose restoration had taken priority.[7] LNER 4236, which had arrived on the SVRSevern Valley Railway in April 1975, was hastily repainted into LNERLondon & North Eastern Railway brown "imitation varnished teak" livery, providing an LNERLondon & North Eastern Railway representative in place of 10078. LMS 26986 was touched in and revarnished before replacing LMSLondon Midland & Scottish Railway 12992.

On 28 July 1975 600 Gordon travelled light engine from Bridgnorth to Urlay Nook RN Armaments Depot, Eaglescliffe.[7] Prior to it appearing, SVRSevern Valley Railway staff were able to finish off the paintwork that they did not have time to complete prior to it leaving Bridgnorth.[8]

It was followed on 11 August by LMSLondon Midland & Scottish Railway 8233 piloting 43106 (also in steam), together with carriages LMSLondon Midland & Scottish Railway 26986, 'Clapham' Buffet 9631 and LNERLondon & North Eastern Railway 4236. The David Cooke Collection includes images of 8233 piloting 43106 on the three-coach train leaving Kidderminster station and on the mainline.

In the cavalcade, 600 hauled ex-Metropolitan Railway electric locomotive No. 12 'Sarah Siddons'.[9]

Then future (and now former) SVRSevern Valley Railway residents 1000, 5690 Leander and 6960 Raveningham Hall also took part.[9]

After taking part in Cavalcade, 43106 returned to the Railway "under its own steam" with 600 Gordon and the three coaches. 8233 did not return to the SVRSevern Valley Railway until 6 September "due to circumstances beyond the control of the Severn Valley Railway", spending a week in the BRBritish Rail or British Railways diesel depot adjoining the newly opened National Railway Museum at York[10].

Mainline excursion trains

As part of the Rail 150 celebrations excursion trains were run from various parts of the country on Sundays in September 1975, with steam haulage between Sheffield and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Serendipitously, on 14 September D1013 Western Ranger (still then in BRBritish Rail or British Railways service) hauled one such train, The Bristolian-Tynesider, from Bristol Temple Meads to Birmingham New Street and return[11][12].

See also


  1. Stockton & Darlington Railway, 1825: 1975 : Rail 150 Exhibition and Steam Cavalcade : souvenir guide, ISBN : 0950422304
  2. White, Andrew, ‘Organiser of celebrations for Rail 150 dies’, The Northern Echo, 31 May 2019 (Retrieved 17 January 2023)
  3. National Railway Museum on Wikipedia
  4. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 32
  5. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 36, p.30., Shildon 1975, Alan Wilkinson
  6. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 175
  7. 7.0 7.1 SVRSevern Valley Railway News 36
  8. Andy Williams' Facebook post in Unofficial Severn Valley Railway Facebook group, 17 January 2014 (Retrieved 18 January 2023)
  9. 9.0 9.1 Railcentre.co.uk (Retrieved 17 January 2023)
  10. SVRSevern Valley Railway News 37, 38
  11. Railway Correspondence and Travel Society (Retrieved 17 January 2023)
  12. 'The Railtour Files - 1975', Six Bells Junction website