KWVR @ 40
Back on track: The birth of the KWVR!
As the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway Preservation Society (KWVR) celebrates 40 years on the track, we look back at how it all started...
June 29th, 1968: Day One for the KWVR!
The 1960s were not a good time for the country's railways which saw hundreds of branch lines closed, thousands of miles of network lost as well as many stations. The railway line running along the Worth Valley might have ended up as just another forgotten track if it hadn't been for some very dedicated volunteers.
The original aim of the volunteers - who first got together in 1962 - was to run a commuter service up and down the line but first this had to be bought from British Rail. They also had to present evidence to Parliament to prove they were competent enough to run a passenger-carrying railway.
Day One: Waiting for the train!
Speaking to BBC Look North on the occasion of the railway's twentieth anniversary in 1988, KWVR chairman Graham Mitchell said: "Between British Rail closing the line and us reopening it, there was a great deal of maintenance to do. If you consider the amount of maintenance you have to do upon your own house and then multiply it by six for the stations we've got, plus goods sheds, you get some idea of the sort of restoration we had to do."
One of the original volunteers was Bob Cryer, former MP for both the Keighley and Bradford South constituencies. When Bob died in a road traffic accident in 1994, Graham Mitchell paid tribute to the part he had played: "Quite simply Bob was the inspirational force and the driving energy behind the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway Preservation Society which he and a very small number of other people formed in March 1962, and he had the vision to see what this little branch line could become. As we know it became a major tourist attraction in West Yorkshire."
1988: The Reopening Special rides again!
On 2.35pm on Saturday, June 29th 1968, the 'Re-opening Special' made its way from Keighley Station to Ingrow, Damems, Oakworth, Haworth and Oxenhope. Forty years later, at the very same time but on friday Juine 27th, there will be an re-enactment of the reopening ceremony.
Julian Jones who is coordinating this year's 40th anniversary feels they have a lot to celebrate: "Never before had a group of railway enthusiasts succeeded in re-opening a complete, full size branch line - and when the society had been formed in 1962 after the closure of the line, many said the task was impossible."
When the 'Re-opening Special' pulled out of Keighley Station on that day in 1968, it was the only train operating out of a British Rail station because the network had been closed down by a strike!
Bob Cryer fixes it for Jimmy Savile!
Even before the trains began to run again, the BBC arrived along the line to film a television series based on Edith Nesbit's ever popular children's story, The Railway Children. A film version was released in 1970 and the KWVR has never looked back.
Julian adds: "Now after carrying more than five million passengers and seeing its track graced by more than one hundred steam locomotives and many heritage diesels, it's time to celebrate."
During the 1988 celebrations a toast was drunk to the "next twenty years". Now we've reached that point, it's time to look ahead to the next 40 years. After all it's very difficult now to imagine West Yorkshire without the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway!
last updated: 02/07/2008 at 16:16