Black Country Bugle
Flagship locomotive steams back into service
AFTER 36 years, the Severn Valley Railway’s flagship locomotive is back in traffic. Earlier this month GWR No. 4930 Hagley Hall pulled its first passenger service following a complete overhaul that cost £1.4 million.
Around 250 people gathered on the concourse of Kidderminster Town station for a special service, which began with a minute’s silence to honour Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
One of the guests of honour was Columb Howell, an original SVR pioneer, who helped save the railway in the 1960s. Almost 50 years ago he was one of a small team that rescued the rusting Hagley Hall from a scrapyard in Barry, Wales.
After restoration, the locomotive returned to passenger working in 1979. It cemented its role as the
SVR’S flagship engine in 1984, when it hauled the first passenger service on the day that Kidderminster Town station was opened. Unfortunately, it had to be withdrawn from traffic in 1986, after several of its boiler stays had failed, necessitating a major overhaul.
That overhaul had to wait 27 years to begin, during which time 4930 was on static display at various locations. It entered the workshops at Bridgnorth in 2013 for the work to begin in earnest.
“The overhaul of Hagley Hall has truly been the stuff of dreams,” said Mike Ball, the SVR’S chairman. “Many people shared that dream. They had a vision and the grit to carry on with a project they cared passionately about. It’s thanks to them that we’re here today, to celebrate 4930’s return to steam.”