Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Riding The Steam

So, there we are - the fearsome foursome of Millbrook, ensconced within a luxurious apartment in the middle of Great Malvern.

Breakfast was a sizable affair prepped by yours truly upon the state-of-the-art Smeg ceramic hob (quite nice to use, but I much prefer an old fashioned gas burner or six).
Mrs The Millbrooker, who almost always eschews such things as big cooked breakfasts, munched a couple of apples whilst doing sudoku instead.Once the sausages, bacon, eggs and toast had been appropriately dealt with, we put best feet forward and headed back to the station to catch the 11:34 to Kidderminster; it was time to indulge Dong's passion for oily things on tracks.

The trip to Kiddy only takes half and hour from Great M and the Kidderminster Town station of the Severn Valley Railway (that's the steam lot) is but a step away from the mainline. In my 'umble, this is what a station concourse should look like.Our train awaited and, once Mrs The Millbrooker had finished watering the Monstera Deliciosa that she'd found looking thirsty in the ladies powder room, we boarded and found a comfy six seater compartment in an old corridor carriage. You know, I can remember carriages just like this from when we used to catch trains at Freshford when I was but a nipper. Lovely, lovely, lovely. Oh dear - I appear to be starting to wallow in nostalgia.Seating duly secured, we watched the Black Five loco shunting onto the front end, ready to start the journey northwards. Mmmm - the smell of these things is fan-bloody-tanstic. Oh dear again, I appear to be turning into Dong with a fetish for steamy things. I must write out a hundred lines - "I am not a rail enthusiast. I am not a rail enthusiast...."At the risk of sounding like a genuine old fart, one of the great things about the railway as it used to be is that whilst safety has always been taken seriously - people were mostly trusted to understand what was a sensible thing to do and what was just damned stupid. On today's permanent way we're molly-coddled and ordered about in pretty much every way imaginable. Here's Dong demonstrating one of the joys of the old railway: ignoring the rules and having (mostly) risk free fun.And we all stuck our heads out of the window to get smuts in our hair (or stuck to our bald bits). No one got decapitated, and we all had a terrific time. Before I get a pile of comments about H&S - I know the modern railway goes faster than 50mph and sticking your head out at 110 is a lot riskier than at gentle touristic steam speeds, thank you.

The train chuffled (if that's not a word, it should be) serenely through the delightful countryside of the Severn Valley......and Dong continued to enjoy the breeze, the smuts and the danger of head removal.We took a break from riding the steam at Highley, so we could look at the Engine House museum that's been fairly newly opened there. Now, this place is great for the visually impaired: more or less everything is touchable, some of the exhibits (a loco, a brake van, a travelling post office carriage) are open to clamber upon; every explanatory notice board has braille and traceable relief diagrams of the locos etc. Well done to the Severn Valley Railway for the thought that's gone into the presentation. Here's Dong and me inside the brake van exhibit......and an example of the display boards for those of us who can't see properly (no, I don't read braille, I still have enough central vision to get by pretty well - but there's loads of people who need this sort of stuff).Just one more shot of the interior of the Engine House. This is the TPO (travelling post office) carriage that I mentioned earlier. Not only interesting in its own right, but a piece of national history, too. This is one of the High Value Package carriages detached from the mail train in the small hours of the morning on August 8th 1963 and emptied of its contents when the Great Train Robbers helped themselves to £2.3 million in used notes.With a short while to go before our onward train was due to sweep us up the line to Bridgnorth we headed towards the Severn and The Ship Inn on the other side of the tracks from the Engine House. I honestly can't remember a more run-down, dismal pub in a more beautiful location. We drank a swift bottled lager (no ale) and returned to the sanctuary of Highley's platform......and did some more steam and oil sniffing before boarding. Mmmmm.We reached Bridgnorth as its beer and steam festival was in full swing; a bit too crowded and noisy for my (and Shazzerooneypoos') tastes, so we headed into town and found The Old Castle Inn for a refreshment stop. Very nice, too. A decent pint of Hobson's ale, a pleasant view from the beer garden and a helpful sign for local ladies.We had high tea in fine style; a pig roll with apple sauce and stuffing from a stall at the beer and steam festival before boarding and heading back to Kidderminster and our mainline train back to Great Malvern. Here's the elegant commercial kitchen from whence our early evening treat came.After the delights of the steam, getting back onto a modern day DMU (diesel multiple unit) was a bit of a come-down, but we did get a jolly decent sunset over Worcester as we rattled through; even if the windows were grimy and consequently only semi-transparent.After a splash-and-dash back at the apartment, it was time to head out to The Millbrooker-Sis's pad in Malvern Wells for dinner, but I'll tell you all about that another time; it featured not only food and wine, but a severe beating for yours truly as my big sister took more than forty years of sibling rivalry into the boxing ring.

1 comment:

Don said...

Before Bern the Lens has appoplexy and takes you to task I should point out that we were hauled from Kidderminster by ex GWR loco 4936, Kinlet Hall, not by the black 5 which hauled us on the return jouney.

Ex GWR loco's are easily recognised by their distictive copper clad funnels as in Bern's latest picture, also they have 4 figure numbers rather than 5 as when BR took over they realised that all the GWR numberplates were made of brass rather than painted on and therefor expensive to replace.

There is of course the connection that the designer of the black 5 was Sir William . A. Stanier FRS, who originaly worked for the GWR and took the design for their efficient tapered boiler with him to the LMS where he was chief mechanical engineer.

Glad you like the atmosphere but be careful on the detail, otherwise they'l 'ave ya !