When GWR 4953 ‘Pitchford Hall’ appears as a special guest at the Severn Valley Railway’s Autumn Steam Gala, there’ll be extra cause for celebration at a nearby stately home in Shropshire.
The visiting locomotive is named for Pitchford Hall, situated 17.5 miles from the SVR’s Bridgnorth station, between Much Wenlock and Shrewsbury. Pitchford Hall is a Grade I listed Tudor historic house, dating from the 16th century and nestled in the Shropshire Hills.
The Great Western Railway started naming its 4900 Hall class locomotives after large country houses from the early 1920s. Another member of this class, 4930 ‘Hagley Hall’, was named for the residence of Viscount Cobham at Hagley, just a few miles from the SVR’s southern terminus at Kidderminster. Fittingly, ‘Hagley Hall’ is now owned by the SVR, and is currently under restoration.
A total of 259 Hall class locomotives were built by the GWR, of which just 11 have survived into preservation.
Locomotive 4953 ‘Pitchford Hall’ has visited the Severn Valley Railway previously, but has never run the whole length of the line. In 2007, when most of the line was closed following severe flood damage, it hauled special services from Bewdley, transferring to the main line at Kidderminster and continuing through to Birmingham Snow Hill.
“We are thrilled to have ‘Pitchford Hall’ with us for the Autumn Steam Gala,” said SVR general manager Helen Smith. “It has impeccable local connections and we think its BR black lined livery will draw plenty of attention.”
James and Rowena Nason, the owners of Pitchford Hall, said:
“Both Halls have been restored in recent years and it’s wonderful to see the house and the locomotive in good condition again, and now within just a few miles from each other in Shropshire. This is a special occasion, and we hope that people will make the most of celebrating the great British heritage of this wonderful locomotive and house.”
The SVR is celebrating the return of ‘Pitchford Hall’ to its Shropshire ‘roots’ by offering free tickets to its Autumn Steam Gala to anyone who’s staying in any of the holiday cottages on the 1000-acre Pitchford Hall estate during the event.
The Autumn Steam Gala runs from 16th to 19th September 2021.