TRAINS of yesteryear took centre stage to help Keighley and Worth Valley Railway start its 50th anniversary celebrations in style.

The three-day Spring Steam Gala attracted 2,000 visitors last weekend and saw a number of engines take to the tracks.

These included three guest locomotives, including Oliver Cromwell (70013), built in 1951 and from the West Somerset Railway, which has served the last days on its boiler certificate on the heritage branch line.

The other trains were Britannia, and from the East Lancashire Railway, a Black 5, remaining on the railway before venturing out onto the mainline again.

Two of these locomotives at the Spring Gala hauled the very last passenger service operated by British Railways.

The ‘15 Guinea Special’ rail tour ran on August 11, 1968, and both Oliver Cromwell and Black 5 hauled legs of the journey. British Railways imposed a steam ban the following day.

Kieran Pilsworth, gala organiser, said: “It’s been a fantastic event.

“Lots of effort and dedication from our dedicated volunteers helped pull out all of the stops this year.”

Nic Wilkins’s son Billy took a group of his friends on the railway at the weekend to celebrate his birthday.

Nic said: “We have had a fantastic day on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway. All of the volunteers have been amazing!”

The 50th anniversary celebrations will continue this summer with an eight-day opening Special Event running from June 24 to July 1.

After the 15 Guinea Special rail tour ran on August 11 1968, the steam ban on the mainline remained in place until 1971, with only special dispensation being given for the Flying Scotsman.

This meant that pioneering heritage operations like the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, were the only places to see standard-gauge steam locomotives in operation.

A KWVR spokesman said it had taken many years since 1968 to restore all the buildings and infrastructure on the Keighley and Worth Valley route.

All pictures by T&A Camera Club member Neil Terry, of Neil Terry Photography.