THIS IS the year in which we can reflect on all that has been achieved in 50 years of operation.

It was at 2.35pm on June 29, 1968 when the first train left Keighley bound for Oxenhope and started the railway on a journey that has lasted 50 glorious years.

To mark the occasion, this year we are celebrating all that our volunteers have accomplished in half a century of operation.

Looking at the photographs of those early days makes you realise just how much effort was involved in reopening a branch line.

This included the work required to bring the track and infrastructure back up to standard; restoring the locomotives and carriages that formed the trains in those early days, many of which are still operating today; as well as all the paperwork and administration involved in getting the necessary authorities to reopen the railway.

It’s great that we can all but form the original train, with many of the same vehicles still on the railway, and even better that some members of the operating team on that day are still active railway volunteers and Preservation Society members.

To help us celebrate we are very keen to hear your memories of the pioneering days, as we finish getting the railway ready for reopening and for the special 2.35pm departure from Keighley in June.

If you do have memories to share and perhaps have a collection of photographs that captured those early days, please do get in touch with me directly or via the railway’s Facebook or Twitter accounts, so that we add them to the archive.

Over the coming months you will see more on the railway website about the early days of the work of the society’s members.

You will also find more information about the plans for the week-long celebration in the run up to June 29, during which we will be marking the many ‘firsts’ that the railway has been involved in.

As part of the event we will be welcoming a special visitor, the steam locomotive ‘Royal Scot’.

A similar locomotive was one of the first to arrive on the railway, way back in 1965.

At that time the locomotive ‘Scots Guardsman’ was deemed to be too heavy and large for the railway’s needs so never saw active service on the branch, before departing in 1969.

It’s testimony to what has been achieved in 50 years that we do now need locomotives of this size to hauled packed trains, and bookings are now open for this very special opportunity on the website.

Usual programme of events will run around the 50th anniversary events in June, including running steam trains every weekend and in the school holidays. There will also be the Spring Steam Gala from March 9 to 11.

So there is plenty to see, and a great deal of opportunity to get involved. Please visit the website for all details.