LOOKING after 50 years of volunteer effort is a huge responsibility and we work hard to balance our charitable and heritage priorities with the need to ready the railway for the next 50 years of operation.

In 1962 the aim of our founders was focused on not losing their local railway rather than creating the popular tourist attraction we have become.

The railway reopened in 1968 after a pioneering period of work involving both the engineering efforts, and so much toil behind the scenes to allow the society to purchase the track bed and prepare the railway for reopening.

Then the the attraction of steam trains running in such a fantastic setting took us down the path toward becoming a living museum, bringing back to life what would otherwise be a lost period of British history.

With the filming of The Railway Children on the line, and especially the decision by Lionel Jeffries to retain the station name of Oakworth in the film, our future was secured, but also the direction of travel for our future.

We still proudly retain a link to our founding principles, providing a transport connection for Oxenhope and Haworth with Keighley, a service that many of our neighbours use to pop into town or beyond at the weekend. We offer local residents a discount on tickets to encourage this use.

However, we have to look to attract new audiences and new volunteers, which is especially challenging now that several generations of potential visitors will not remember steam trains from their childhood, and similarly we will have far fewer engineers expert on steam locomotives to draw upon.

To this end, we continue to work on plans to upgrade our engineering facilities so that we can welcome more trainees help ensure the long-term future of our increasingly-elderly locomotives and carriages.

Responding to the need to attract more passengers, we have invested for the first time in an in-house marketing officer, and it's great to welcome Sarah Howsen to this role.

I have worked with Sarah for several years during her time as the tourism officer at Bradford MDC, and I'm very excited about the opportunities that she will bring.

One development that we have been working on for some time is building on the partnership we already enjoy with the Bahamas Locomotive Society (BLS) and Vintage Carriages Trust, two great museums based at Ingrow station.

Following the award of a Heritage Lottery Fund, the BLS have been busily readying a ‘Learning Carriage’ that will allow us to focus on our work with schools and is a great foundation for an even closer working relationship.

With so much going on, as well as continuing to run steam trains every weekend and throughout the school holidays (don't forget the Mince Pie specials that run from Boxing Day into the New Year!) we are always looking for new volunteers.

So please do get in touch if any area of our operations, whether behind the scenes or ‘front of house’ appeals to you.

Details of how to get involved, as well as of our festive services, are on the website.