AS WE near the end of the 150th anniversary year of the original opening of the railway, we get closer to the start of our own 50th anniversary year.

Early afternoon on June 29 1968 saw the special train leave Keighley, reopening the railway by the Preservation Society after several years of hard work readying the line for the occasion.

The hard work was both dealing with the operational challenges and infrastructure repairs to allow the train to run, as well as dealing with the necessary behind-the-scenes negotiations to gain the authority to operate passenger trains and to secure access to - and eventually ownership of - the line and much of the rolling stock.

Some 49 years later we still owe so much to those founding members of the society, led by the late, great Ralph Povey and Bob Cryer (both of whom are remembered by memorial stones in the Haworth Station building).

Without the vision, commitment and motivation of the founding volunteers, we would be lamenting the loss of such an important part of the local and visitor economy, as well as the loss of a key part of the area’s heritage.

The sound of a steam engine powering out of Keighley station would not have been heard again, and the gem that is Oakworth Station may have been lost forever.

Instead, we can savour the sound of steam on a journey back in time every weekend; enjoy a trip with Father Christmas and his Pixies on the Santa Specials; sample an ale or two at the ever-popular Beer and Music Festival; and have the privilege of a living museum right on our doorstep.

It is thanks to the achievements of those volunteers in the early days that the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway is here at all, and we continue to rely heavily on our team of over 500 volunteers, now supported by a team of just a handful of paid staff, to maintain and operate the railway.

In some ways, the railway is very different to that day in 1968.

Look at the situation now across the whole length of our railway line...

All the stations fully restored (including Ingrow West, which required us to move a building stone-by-stone to bring the station back to its former glory).

The museums are established at RailStory at Ingrow, as well as the Exhibition Shed at Oxenhope

And there is the development of the Locomotive and Carriage workshops.

But in many ways nothing has changed, as we continue to rely so heavily on the people that turn up day in, day out, whatever the weather and time of day, to maintain and run the railway and to operate the trains.

I do hope that you will consider joining our volunteer team and be part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.