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Saturday 11th May 2019

©  Stuart Smith

For our 2019 Annual General Meeting, members travelled to the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. I had opted to stay in Yorkshire the night beforehand, and so was able to reach Keighley in time for their first departure of the day (at 09:30), which was operated by a two-car Class 101 ‘heritage’ DMU, formed of vehicles 51189 & 51803. Despite the forecast of heavy rains, the day was actually warm and sunny, with plenty of blue skies. The train was relatively lightly-loaded, and appeared to double up as a means of dropping staff/volunteers off along the line. At Damens Loop, we past a P-Way train heading towards Keighley, which was being hauled by D0266 – a 1950’s experimental prototype by English Electric. Although unsuccessful when with British Railways, it has been at the K&WVR since 1966, and is a useful and reliable locomotive for P-Way trains. It was also used to haul passenger trains during the 2014 Tour de France event held in the Worth Valley area.

Upon arrival at Oxenhope, the DMU was shunted out of the way, (it does form a mid-afternoon service) to allow the steam-hauled stock to arrive into the platform from the adjacent carriage sidings. This was propelled in by an ex-Midland Railway 4F, no.43924.

This locomotive was the first steam loco to be saved from the Woodham Scrapyard in 1970. It took until 1974 to restore it to working order, and then operated continuously until 1987. Following a thorough overhaul, it returned to traffic again in 2011, and has performed regularly ever since. Whilst heading back to Keighley, I arranged with the onboard staff to ‘reserve’ seats for our party, in order to ease loading amongst the regular passengers. This worked well, with our group directed to the front coach behind the loco.

With members now gathered, time allowed to watch the loco run-round and take on water, before departing with the 11:00 service. Our actual AGM was being held at the Mill Hey Brewhouse in Haworth. Located right opposite the station, this historic building has been restored both externally and internally into an attractive venue. The upstairs function room served as an excellent venue for members to chat and relax upon arrival.

Following the formal business of the AGM (see elsewhere for a selection of reports from Institution Officers), we were served a buffet lunch. Over lunch, talk as ever turned to all things railway, from old to new, and both domestic and continental.

Suitably refreshed and replenished, we headed back over to the station forecourt, where we were met by David Petyt who would be our guide around the locomotive and carriage sheds at Haworth. The first oddity explained was the curious layout at Haworth. The current station and yard area was rebuilt following a run-away train derailment in 1880, which demolished the former goods shed and station surroundings.

The route was initially built solely to serve the expanding wool trade, with passenger traffic very much an afterthought. Additionally, the main shed which today houses the locomotive maintenance shed, was not originally built for railway use, and was converted in the 1970’s (including a more recent extension) for use by the locomotive department.

As well as those vehicles in service mentioned above, we noted the following:

David was well versed on all aspects of the tour, even down to the current state of each locomotive undergoing overhauls.

2020 sees the 50th Anniversary of The Railway Children, and over the August Bank Holiday weekend, a large scale festival to mark the occasion will be taking place. This will feature the original locomotive and carriages used in the filming, operating on an intensive timetable, having been returned to the original condition as in 1970.

Following the conclusion of our guided visit, we returned back to the station to board the 14:35 departure through to Oxenhope. This again had reserved seating for our party, very handy for this trip as it was significantly busier than the early morning train.

At Oxenhope, we made a final journey back to Keighley on the 15:00 service, to conclude a very interesting day in excellent company.

Our thanks go to the hosts and staff at the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, and to those at the Mill Hey Brewhouse too.

The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway

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K&WV Rly Pictorial

An pictorial record of the visit to the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway by Tom Chaffin