BRIDGNORTH is renowned as the northern terminus of the Severn Valley Railway (SVR), Britain’s second most popular heritage line in terms of passenger numbers.
However, it is often forgotten it was also a cradle of the steam railway.
For it was in the town’s Hazeldine Foundry the locomotive which hauled the world’s first fare-paying passenger train was built in 1808. Cornish mining engineer Richard Trevithick’s Catch-me-who-can ran on a circle of track near the future site of Euston station.
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Now an art trail comprising 12 decorated statues of the locomotive has been commissioned by Bridgnorth Town Council and set up around the town.
The first of the statues appropriately arrived by train, hauled by GWR 2-8-0 No. 2857 on July 24, and was unloaded at Bridgnorth station. Designed and produced by Bridgnorth artist Tania Holland, it was decorated with historic newspaper articles linked to the station’s past.
SVR general manager Nick Ralls said: “The trail will add another element to Bridgnorth’s appeal as a destination to day trippers, holiday makers and our own passengers alike.”
Bridgnorth-based firm Grainger and Worrall cast the 12 statues, with much of the design work carried out by eight apprentices, aged 17-23, from the Marches Centre of Manufacturing & Technology in Estate Road. Lead apprentice Ella Jones was at the station to welcome the arrival of the first statue.
The Mayor of Bridgnorth, Coun Ron Whittle, officially opened the trail in High Street on July 28.
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