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Steam gala back on track for Keighley and Worth Valley Railway


The autumn steam gala featured the Foxcote Manor 7822. Photo courtesy of Chris King.

By Matt Guy

HUNDREDS of railway fans descended on West Yorkshire for a glimpse of the past at an autumn steam gala.

Keighley and Worth Valley Railway – made famous in the 1970 film The Railway Children – hosted the celebration of its extensive steam history at the weekend (October 7-9).

Co-organiser Callum Porter, 18, said: “We’ve had a lot of bad luck with galas recently so this time we went big and bold with it.

“Last October we had arranged for a loco to come from the west Somerset railway, only for Network Rail to cancel the move on the Tuesday before the gala.

“After a lot of bad luck, this gala has put us back on the gala map.

“This gala had a particular atmosphere that made the event a lot more enjoyable to organise.”

Vice president of KWVR, Bill Black said: “The event was attended by both children to ancients, like me. It was very busy, particularly Saturday, it was heaving I’m delighted to say.”

The volunteer-run railway displayed several of its own locomotive stock, including the newly restored Black 5 45212, built in 1951, which was on its first run after a major overhaul.


The Sir Keith Park 34053. Photo courtesy of Chris King.

Other attractions included two visiting locos, Foxcote Manor 7822 and Sir Keith Park 34053, which proved popular with visitors.

Callum said: “Being a western loco in foreign territory [the 7822] is interesting to the general public and the southern loco [the 34053] had drawn in a lot of interest as well.”

The railway currently has between 4,500 and 5,000 members of which 500 are active, consistently volunteering to help with restoration on the line and with the locomotives.

Tim Hipkins, 23, a regular volunteer said: “By preserving the track, these engines have somewhere to run. If there was no track then there would be no heritage railway business that would fund the restoration and upkeep of these historic locomotives.”

Mr Black, who has worked on the railway since 1968 as a diesel locomotive and DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) driver, society chairman and traffic manager, said: “In my experience, popularity in the KWVR is steadily increasing.”

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