WE ARE 50!

This is the year when we celebrate the reopening of the line by the Preservation Society back in 1968.

We have already seen two great celebratory events.

The first event was the visit of the Duchess of Cornwall, who started her journey at the Brontë Parsonage, then travelled down to Haworth Yard by vintage bus.

We showed the Duchess around the workshop, where she met a number of our volunteers, including a group who had minutes before been working on locomotive overhauls and hadn’t even had time to clean all the grease off their overalls – but the Duchess was very keen to meet and speak with everyone she could during her short time with us.

After meeting some of the waiting crowd at Haworth station, Her Majesty stepped on to the footplate of the locomotive that was to haul her special train to Oxenhope.

We journeyed in The Railway Children’s “Old Gent’s Saloon” carriage (I made sure that the Duchess had seen the film!) and arrived to greet the waiting crowd on the platform.

There we met another group of volunteers, including David Kay, grandfather of one of the locomotive volunteers we had met earlier at Haworth, which was particularly special as David has just stepped down after over five decades on the Board of Directors.

After a quick photo opportunity with The Railway Children’s locomotive, which is on display at Oxenhope, the Duchess departed after an hour with us, during which time we had been able to showcase just a little of what we have achieved over 50 years of operation.

We continued the celebrations with our Steam Gala, to which we welcomed two locomotives that had been involved in running one of the last steam-hauled services on the national network in August 1968.

This date was just a matter of weeks after we ran our inaugural service on June 29 of the same year.

We enjoyed a weekend of demonstration freight trains and express passenger services, special double-header-hauled trains, and even the weather didn’t dampen spirits, despite the deluge on Saturday.

The weather was also on our minds a few weeks before, when we became just about the only mode of transport out of Oxenhope and even Haworth, thanks to the amazing efforts of our volunteers to provide a train service.

As we look forward to the summer (and we hope better weather!), we get closer to our week-long 50th Anniversary celebration event.

Running June 24 to July 1, the gala will include steam, diesel and a range of services that will reflect the 50 years of operation, and includes a special visit of the ‘Royal Scot’ locomotive.

Details for the week’s activities, and to book seats on the ‘Royal Scot’ specials, are available on the railway’s website.