The Severn Valley Railway’s (SVR) 34027 Taw Valley engine is now known as Elizabeth II and was repainted in purple and gold especially for the occasion. It steamed into Bridgnorth Station at about 1.30pm on Thursday, with hundreds of onlookers crowding to get pictures of the locomotive – many of whom were going to board for the return journey to Kidderminster,
It marked the start of the weekend’s attractions all along the line which include a ferris wheel and vintage cars at Bridgnorth, a photographic display at the engine house in Highley, a Frank Sinatra tribute act at Kidderminster and a Battle of Britain Memorial Flypast between the two main stations on Sunday.
To mark the official crowning of Elizabeth II 70 years ago, every customers named Elizabeth who is travelling with another fare-paying customer gets a return journey between Bridgnorth and Kidderminster.
One person who took advantage of this was Elizabeth Millichip, 76 and her husband David who were celebrating their 58th wedding anniversary on the same day as the jubilee and enjoying an afternoon tea.
She said: “It’s a lovely place to celebrate both occasions and it is great to see the effort that has been put in here to make it special – we have been on the ferris wheel, had our lunch and we’re now looking forward to going on the Elizabeth II."
Another Elizabeth – Stevens – and her husband Colin were also waiting for the special train.
Colin said he was a train enthusiast, having been brought up close to a diesel line in the Black Country. He and Elizabeth moved to Shifnal three years ago.
He said: “ I used to bring the children on the Christmas runs and I used to go fishing at Arley – it is a beautiful run with some stunning scenery all down the line,
The popularity of the newly liveried Elizabeth II was shown when an order of 200 scale models from Hornby sold out within days.
Station master Chris Thomas said the publicity and interest in the engine had really captured the imagination.
He started as a volunteer at the SVR in 1969 when he was trimming hedges and putting fences back on the then derelict railway.
Mr Thomas said: “There has been a lot of hard work done over all those years by everyone to get it looking like it does and weekends like this act as a showcase for all we have to offer.
“We are expecting it to get increasingly busy over the four days and it is hard work for the volunteers but it is like a labour of love and the smiles on visitors’ faces make it all worthwhile.”
For a full programme of events and timetable, go to www.svr.co.uk