Severn Valley Railway Association

The Severn Valley Railway Association was active between 16 October 1971 and 4 October 2015. It was formed to safeguard the interests of members of the Severn Valley Railway Company (the Guarantee Company) and later assumed a particular responsibility for representing the views of the working members.


SVRA History

In May 1971 Sir Gerald Nabarro proposed to establish a public company to finance the purchase of the southern section of the line. He also proposed to wind up the Guarantee Company in which the individual members had a direct interest.

In response, a 'general meeting' was convened on 17 July 1971 by several SVR members who were concerned by these developments. This unofficial meeting agreed that an Association should be formed with a Steering Committee chaired by John Garth to keep its eye on developments and generally to do all it could to contribute to the success of the Severn Valley Railway. This 'unofficial Association' was therefore sometimes referred to as "The Garth Committee".[1]

Following that meeting, it soon became clear that the Guarantee Company also envisaged an "Association" as part of their own plans. A formal General Meeting was held on 16 October 1971, convened jointly by the Board of the Guarantee Company and the Steering Committee of the 'unofficial Association' and chaired by John Garth. A proposal that "The Severn Valley Railway Association (as formed at the meeting held on 17th July, 1971) be formally constituted with immediate effect." was unanimously approved, with John Garth being elected unopposed as its first Chairman. The SVRA was an unincorporated body, whose principal objects as agreed at the October meeting were:

  • To safeguard the interests of the members of the Severn Valley Railway Company Limited
  • To do everything possible to promote the efficient organisation, financial standing and growth of the Severn Valley Railway.[2]

The SVRA successfully proposed resolutions in 1972 against actions that members saw as threatening the interests of the railway. The floatation of the public company proceeded, and that company is now SVR(H). However the Guarantee Company remained in existence, as it was not possible at the time to transfer the existing LRO to the new public company. Individual SVR members therefore retained a say in the workings of the SVR through the Guarantee Company.

Despite the continuation of the Guarantee Company, the SVRA also remained in existence and assumed a particular responsibility for representing the views of the working members. Representatives of both organisations sat on the Board of Directors of SVR(H).

There was a growing overlap in the roles of the two organisations, and in early 2013 proposals for a merger appeared in a Working Members' Survey.[3] Merger talks continued through 2014, with the proposals being agreed at the respective AGMs in 2015. Following this the merger took place in October 2015, although an issue with its SVRH shareholding, ring-fencing unspent lottery monies and transferring assets meant winding up of the SVRA was took until 2022 to be concluded[4].

SVRA Chairmen

Chairmen of the SVRA were as follows:

SVRA branches

The SVR formed local branches from the early days of the railway which provide support to the SVR through their activities. The first five branches (Birmingham, Chester, Kidderminster, Warrington and Wolverhampton) pre-dated the SVRA, becoming a part of it from its establishment in 1971.[13] A number of other branches were subsequently formed. The SVRA and its branches were merged into the Guarantee Company in October 2015.

  • Extant branches are:
    • Cheshire (Originally Macclesfield Branch, formed in December 1980[14])
    • Wolverhampton (formed in January 1967[15]). At the 15 January 2024 General meeting it was decided to wind up the Branch.
    • Stourbridge (formed in late 1971 as "Wordsley and Stourbridge"[16])
  • Other branches were:
    • London (began as the South Eastern Branch in 1971[17] and originally based at Tonbridge.[18] First London meeting was held in late 1974.[19] Closed in December 2014.[20])
    • Bristol (formed January 1978,[21] closed in 2005.[22])
    • Bridgnorth (formed circa 1993[23], last active in 2014.[24])
    • Birmingham (formed by 1969,[25] closed in 1992.[26])
    • Chester (formed by 1971[27], merger with Merseyside proposed in February 1974.[28])
    • Kidderminster (formed by 1970[29])
    • Merseyside (formed November 1973 and based at Birkenhead.[30] By summer 1975 "the only surviving branch in the North West".[31] Closed circa 1976)
    • North West (originally Warrington Branch, formed in January 1971,[32], meetings suspended in 1974 due to poor attendance and closed in January 1975.[33])

SVRA raffles

The SVRA organised regular raffles to raise funds for projects on the railway. The proceeds from the first two raffles in 1972 were used to buy shares in the newly-launched SVR(H), in order to ensure SVRA members had adequate representation in the new organisation.[34] Thereafter normal practice was to hold two raffles per year, usually with one organised by the Association's Committee and the other by one of its Branches.[35]

An incomplete list of raffles organised by the SVRA is shown on the SVR fundraising lotteries page.

See also


  1. SVR News 30, "The Severn Valley Railway Association, a Personal View", Martin Withers
  2. SVR News Issue 21
  3. SVR News 187 p. 17.
  4. Guarantee Company Annual Reports ending 31 December 2019; 31 December 2020, p. 5; 31 December 2021, p. 3; and 31 December 2022, p. 8
  5. SVR News 30, 37
  6. SVR News 38, 56
  7. SVR News 57, 70
  8. SVR News 71, 84
  9. SVR News 85, 132
  10. SVR News 133, 140
  11. SVR News 141, 159
  12. SVR News 161,
  13. SVR News 21
  14. SVR News 65
  15. SVR News 123 “Wolverhampton Branch – a Thirty Year History”
  16. SVR News 21,23
  17. SVR News 50
  18. SVR News 21, 27, 28
  19. SVR News 34
  20. SVR News 188
  21. SVR News 46
  22. SVR News 152
  23. SVR News 107-108
  24. SVR News 188 et seq.
  25. SVR News 12
  26. SVR News 102 et seq
  27. SVR News 19
  28. SVR News 30,31
  29. SVR News 16
  30. SVR News 29,30
  31. SVR News 36
  32. SVR News 18
  33. SVR News 32,35
  34. SVR News 23, 26
  35. SVA reports in SVR News 70 (1983), SVR News 137 (2001) etc.