Action stations for Severn Valley Railway’s 1940s revival - with video and pictures

By Dominic Robertson | Bridgnorth | Attractions | Published:

Severn Valley Railway was truly transported back in time for an annual event where unsuspecting visitors would have thought they just stepped through a timewarp.

SVR's Highley Station and Engine House was just one of the organisation's venues for a weekend of celebration that made up its Step Back to the 1940s events.

The main event for the day was the spectacular "Battle Returns" performance where visitors were treated to a superb display of role play and entertainment.

Set two days after the Normandy invasion, a host of actors recreated an ambush on a German troop train by Allied Paratroopers and the French Resistance.

Watch the ambush here:

SVR 1940s weekend - ambush re-enactment

Station manager, John Ash, said the day was one of his favourite events in the railway's calendar.

He said: "We try to make it as explosive as possible!"

The event has been part of the calendar for the past two years but has been gradually expanded.


Mr Ash said: "They used to just have the troops battle in the siding yard but then they decided to move it to the Engine House.

"Now we are using the train to make it more realistic."

Churchill was there to address the crowd

Throughout the day there were a host of visitors dressed up for the occasion sporting pin stripes and polka dots, head scarves and hat pins, all helping to create the full 1940s effect.


With the station seeing the regular arrival and departure of trains throughout the day the platform was a bustling throng of 40s finery – like something straight from the cinema screen.

Scores of visitors had gone to considerable lengths to complete the historic illusion, and one such group was Homefires Burning, from North Derbyshire and South Yorkshire.

Annie Cullen and Fiona Monticolombi dress for the event

The group had kitted themselves out in a superb rendition of the Royal Engineers in North Africa, and one of its members, Adrian Roberts of Alfreton, said they always make an effort to attend the weekend.

He said: "We come to this event every year. We do both weekends. The first weekend we bring the home front display and the second weekend we ride the trains and catch up with friends.

"It is an excellent event. The railway is a beautiful railway through a beautiful part of the English countryside with marvellous old rolling stock – better than many others – so you really get the 30s-40s Great Western experience.

"We go to railway 40s events all over the country and this has to be our favourite."


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