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It's all aboard for royal visit to steam railway
The Duke of Kent (centre) prepares to unveil a plaque to mark the return to service of the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Club Carriage
The Duke of Kent stepped from the footplate of a steam train to give the royal seal of approval to the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway on its milestone 50th anniversary.
His Royal Highness, who is patron of the railway’s preservation society, met visiting dignitaries at Oxenhope Station following a 45-minute ride in the cab of an historic locomotive from the station to Keighley and back.
Storm clouds and nearby thunderclaps failed to dampen the Duke’s enthusiasm for the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway (K&WVR) volunteers’ efforts during its first half century.
He told gathered members and civic dignitaries: “I came here four years ago and things have moved a long way since then. Many congratulations and all the best wishes for many more years.”
The Duke’s visit – last Wednesday afternoon – also marked the centenary of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (L&Y) Club Carriage, which had been used as a cricket pavilion before a major 18-year restoration project.
After taking off a blue protective overall coat and gloves, he unveiled a plaque to commemorate both anniversaries.
Dr Matt Stroh, K&WVR chairman, said: “I think he really enjoyed the journey and even did the water for the steam train at Keighley.
“We showed him some of the carriages and what fascinates him is what we can do by taking something that is a rusty hulk and restoring it.”
The Lord Mayor of Bradford, Councillor Dale Smith, was joined by mayors from Keighley, Fylde and Blackpool and they were shown the Club Carriage, originally used in 1912 to take businessmen from the Lancashire coast to Manchester’s cotton mills.
Eric Rawcliffe, chairman of the L&Y, said: “It is both a relief and a source of pride that we have been able to re-introduce it back into service so people can see how the businessmen travelled a hundred years ago.
“It is part of the social history of the north of England.”