Shropshire’s Severn Valley Railway found itself at the heart of its very own Top Gear-style challenge this afternoon as part of a fundraiser for Children in Need.
The Sir Keith Park steam locomotive went head-to-head against a Morgan three-wheel car in a straight race between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth, with Sky Sports presenter Vicky Gomersall at the helm of the train and Coronation street actor Tony Hirst, who plays fireman Paul Kershaw, at the wheel of the Morgan.
And in a result which will no doubt have pleased Jeremy Clarkson and his petrolhead colleagues, the Morgan vehicle triumphed – completing the 16-mile route in about 45 minutes, some five minutes quicker than the train.
Organisers had expected the race to be much closer but claimed the Morgan’s success was aided by a lack of traffic in the Kidderminster area.
Tickets were sold for people to board the train for the challenge, and it is hoped about £5,000 will be raised for the national charity appeal.
The train pulled a set of eight carriages, weighing a further 240 tonnes, including a Children in Need coach with children from Edward’s Trust in Birmingham and Pudsey Bear.
Each driver had to collect traditional railway tokens along the route which involved the Morgan team jumping out at Highley and Arley stations and running over a bridge.
Teresa Green, spokeswoman for the Severn Valley Railway, said: “The day went really well, it’s just a shame it wasn’t a bit closer.
“The Morgan had a clean run through as the notorious Kidderminster traffic wasn’t there.”
John Leftwich, of Severn Valley Railway Charitable Trust Ltd, said: “A time trial between a 130-tonne steam locomotive and 500kg car sounds unfair, but the steam train is restricted to 25mph on the track and the Morgan 3 Wheeler had more obstacles to contend with.”
Mrs Green said: “After he picked up his trophy, Tony waited around on the platform for Vicky so he could gloat. It was a fantastic day in the English countryside and all the children seemed to really enjoy it.”