Keighley and Worth Valley Railway

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Family including children under 16

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Anorak Grandson has become hooked on the story of the Railway Children having watched the 1970s film on TV over the Christmas Holiday. We saw that Sunday 20th January was to be the last day in service of the “Green Dragon”, which featured in the film. Otherwise known as Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway locomotive No. 957, this is about to undergo a major overhaul and likely to be out of service for several years. This seemed too good an opportunity to miss.

We got a copy of the timetable for the day off the internet and saw the railway were planning to run an extensive service throughout the day.

The "Green Dragon" (now painted black just to confuse) would be double heading with the Lancashire and Yorkshire locomotive No 1300, a rare chance to see two old ladies working together. It was also the last day in service of British Railways Ivatt tank No. 41241, which was the loco which pulled the inaugural train when the line was reopened in 1968. Locos like this were commonly used on branch lines like the Worth Valley. As an extra bonus, the first two trains of the day would be the heritage diesel rail car.

We planned to be there in time to catch the diesel from Howarth to Keighley and back to Oakworth where we would get off. Grandson disappeared to find Perk’s Office (the Ladies Waiting Room) and was in his element as he was Perks with his own station.

The young volunteer in the ticket office was pleased to see visitors as Oakworth Station does not get many passengers. He had an open door policy and we were allowed into the ticket and parcels office – hardly changed in 100 years and still lit by gas. The huge safe was still there, as are the racks of tickets and the station clock. The token machine and bell is still in use. In conversation I mentioned train spotting grandson and Perks. The immediate reply was “He’ll have to come and open the level crossing gates with me.” That was the highlight of the day. When the train pulled into the station, grandson was shouting out in his best Perk’s voice “Oakworth… Oakworth Station….”

Our plans were to catch the train pulled by the Ivatt tank to Keighley and then back to Ingrow, where we would visit the museum and then catch the double headed train back to Haworth.

The train made a sudden stop before Ingrow and was very slow going through the tunnel into the station. Here there was a large police presence. All heads were out of the window and the story went along the carriage that the police were making an arrest.

At Keighley rumour was rife, especially as the train was held there for a long time. Back at Ingrow there was still a police presence and we learnt that someone had been arrested in the tunnel and no locos would be allowed through it until it had been searched. We headed to the museum and the Ivatt tank with its train sat in the station and waited and waited.

Alarm bells began to ring when there was an announcement in the museum that the train would be returning to Keighley as the loco was running low on water. The other two engines would be running a shuttle service between Oxenhope and the tunnel. We were on the ‘wrong’ side of the tunnel to the car. Checking at the station we were told that Bradford Soco had called out and no-one knew when the tunnel would reopen. We decided to catch the service bus from outside Ingrow station back to Keighley. This is a 30minutes service and I don’t think the bus driver could believe his eyes when he saw the long queue waiting for him.

The railway organised a special bus later in the day to ferry stranded passengers.

Back at Keighley we had a ride behind Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway locos 957 and 1300. It was slow and steady as one of the locos was running out water and there were problems with the water tower at Oxenhope. One of the large diesels from the shed at Haworth was attached to the back of the train.

We felt sorry for the railway as this was meant to be a special day for them but had been ruined by the actions of a someone doing something he shouldn’t. The crowds of people videoing along the line had also been cheated. It was, however, a good opportunity to push home the safety aspects to Grandson. You do not walk along the track or walk through a tunnel and also the consequences if someone does this. He also knows now how important water is for steam engines.

Inspite of this we had a great day and felt the railway had tried to minimise disruption to passengers. We saw three nice steam locos in action. The diesel rail car ride is always good and views are much better than the steam trains. We had chance to see inside the ticket and parcel office at Oakworth, go on a bus and Grandson opened the level crossing gates.

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