Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust Ltd

The Charitable Trust's 10th anniversary logo
The Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust is one of the three main organisations which make up the Severn Valley Railway. It is a Registered Charity which supports the SVR by raising funds to help restoration and maintenance projects, to help arrest the decline of heritage engineering skills and to safeguard the long-term future and operational capability of the Railway. 2022 marks the Charitable Trust's 10th anniversary.

The Charitable Trust is a membership body. Governance is through up to nine trustees, including ex officio the chairman (or their nominee) from each of the Railway's other main organisations, Severn Valley Railway (Holdings) PLC ("SVR(H)") which owns the infrastructure and operates the Railway, and Severn Valley Railway Company Limited ("the Guarantee Company") which is responsible for the membership and volunteers.


Origins and Objects

SVR Rolling Stock Trust: 2001 to 2012

The Charitable Trust began as the SVR Rolling Stock Trust which, as the name implies, was originally established to support the Railway's rolling stock. The SVR Rolling Stock Trust Company Limited was incorporated on 17 December 2001 as a private company limited by guarantee, company number 04341280. As a charitable body, its Objects were:[1]

"To advance education for the benefit of the public by:

  • the acquisition, restoration, preservation, operation maintenance and display of heritage railway locomotives, coaches, wagons and artefacts
  • the provision of facilities for the education, training and certification of trainees in the practicalities, techniques and methods used in the restoration, repair and operation of historic railways"

The SVR Rolling Stock Trust operated in that form for more than 10 years.

Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust: 2012 onwards

On 29 June 2012 the Charitable Trust took on a wider remit as the SVR's general charitable trust, for which purpose it adopted its present name.[2] The current (2019) Articles of Association state that:[3]

"The Charity’s Objects are specifically restricted to the following:

  • to advance education for the benefit of the public by the acquisition, restoration, preservation and operation of heritage railway locomotives, carriages, wagons, station buildings, track and other associated infrastructure
  • establishing buildings to house and preserve the Charity’s rolling stock collection
  • the provision of educational and interpretive displays for the travelling public and
  • the provision of education and skills training used in the restoration, repair and operation of historic railways to ensure their long term survival"

The Charitable Trust became the SVR's 'owner of last resort', "...ensuring that various locomotives, coaches and wagons that have been lovingly restored over many years by SVR volunteers can remain at the Railway, in perpetuity. As the members of the many preservation groups inevitably age and their numbers dwindle, items of rolling stock can be donated to the Charitable Trust, in order to be absolutely certain they will remain at the Railway for the long-term."[4]

The Trust is a member of the Heritage Trust Network, an umbrella organisation for built heritage preservation groups and individuals formed in 2016 from the Association of Preservation Trusts (UK-APT). Members work to restore built heritage and bring historic buildings back into community use.[5]


June 2022 marked the 10th anniversary of the Charitable Trust. Over that period it has raised £8.74m for the Railway;[6] £6.54 million directly through the Trust and £2.2 million in emergency grants directly to the Railway.[7]

The Trust receives funds from single donations and regular giving, grant making bodies, companies and groups and gifts in Wills. In its early years it appointed Compton Fundraising Consultants. It subsequently moved to a staff and volunteer-based model.

It has sought to develop large scale fundraising, including lottery funding.

To generate support from "influential individuals" the Trust may typically invite a small group to spend a day on the SVR using an Observation Saloon to make conducted visits to workshops to meet staff and volunteer craftsmen.[8]

  • In addition to gifts it seeks pledges or future bequests. Those leaving a gift in their Will to the SVR Charitable Trust are invited to join the Guardians' Club.[9]
  • Individuals donating over £100 or giving regular gifts by monthly contributions are invited to join the Patrons' Club.[9]
  • It has the support of Corporate partners

In May 2016, the Trust secured a grant of £75,000 from a Department for Transport competition, for a scheme to transform the Railway’s travel offering for disabled passengers. The scheme involved the restoration and conversion of BR 4399 Tourist Standard Open and 80776, and the purchase of lightweight, portable ramps for each of the Railway’s wheelchair-accessible carriages.

Fundraising events

From time to time the Charitable Trust organises special fund raising events. Past events have included:[10]

  • April 2014: Charity Race Day at Ludlow Races raising £62,000.[11]
  • June 2015: Charity Race Day at Worcester Racecourse raising £34,500.[12]
  • June 2016: Charity Race Day at Worcester Racecourse raising £22,000[13]
  • September 2016: VIP Flying Scotsman Charity Day[14]
  • The Charitable Trust took over the organisation of the annual Peep Behind the Scenes day for 2017.
  • 14 June 2017: Charity Race Day at Worcester Racecourse raising £23,000.[15]
  • 11 June 2018: Annual Charity Race Day at Worcester Racecourse raising £13,000.[16]

Current appeals and restricted funding

The Trust's website lists its current appeals (11 as at 2021) and the annual report and accounts details funds restricted by the donor to particular items or projects (19 as at 2021)[17]. In May 2022 the Trust launched an appeal to help raise £500,000 to restore Bridgnorth Locomotive Yard.


The Trust supports a variety of projects including rolling stock, infrastructure, permanent way, diesel, Bridgnorth development, education and access. Its annual report and accounts, available online from Companies House, lists the projects it has supported in the previous year and the amounts committed. Major projects include:

In October 2017 the Trust announced it was establishing an In Memory Garden for SVR supporters, close to The Engine House.

Charitable expenditure

The report and accounts and Charity Commission website record expenditure on charitable activities by year. An incomplete record follows:

Financial year ending Amount Notes
2016 £166,770
2017 £436,890
2018 £382,580
2019 £695,990
2020 £2,141,254 Includes £691k Falling Sands Viaduct renovation and £503k bequest allocated to 4930 Hagley Hall.[21]
2021 £690,171
2022 £1,224,345 Includes £483k Roof and Crane appeal

Endowment Future Fund

The Trust set up an endowment Future Fund, the income from which is intended to allow sustainable investment on the Railway in years to come. It has aspirations to grow the Fund eventually to £10 million.[22] It appointed professional investment managers, Brewin Dolphin, to manage the investment. Donations to the Future Fund were matched, pound for pound, by a Heritage Lottery Fund Catalyst programme grant of up to £500,000 which was awarded in 2013 and reached on 26 May 2017, giving a total fund value of over £1 million. As of July 2022 it had grown to £1.83 million[17].

Rolling stock

The Charitable Trust owns GWR 7819 Hinton Manor, BR Class 11 12099 and a number of carriages and goods wagons. A full list of all the rolling stock owned by the Trust can be found here.

Some of these vehicles were donated to the Trust by preservation groups, including the following.


Platform Issue 6

'Platform is the Charitable Trust's magazine. Issues 1-5 were published annually between 2015 and 2019. Issue 6 was published in July 2022 to mark the Trust's 10th anniversary. All 6 issues are available to download from the Charitable Trust's Downloads page (external link).

Shareholding in SVR(H)

The Trust is a minor shareholder in SVR(H) by way of donated or bequeathed shares. In the 2012 Share Offer existing shareholders with small numbers of shares who did not want to increase their holding were invited to donate their shares to the Trust. In 2021 the market value was £24,435[17].

See also