AT 2.35PM on June 29th 1968, a steam train left Keighley station bound for Oxenhope, marking the start of what is - so far - a 50-year journey.

For years before, volunteers toiled away to bring the railway back to operational standard, and overhauling the locomotives and carriages that would carry passengers on the reopening special.

If it wasn’t for the vision, tenacity and - at times - audacity of the founding members of the Preservation Society, the railway would most likely now be just a memory.

The audacity came from them refusing to accept that just because no-one had successfully purchased and reopened a standard-gauge branch line railway, it wouldn’t be possible to achieve.

The commitment and the tenacity required not to give up, however tough it got to work on restoring the infrastructure and dealing with the paperwork involved, was incredible.

As we near the date of the anniversary of the reopening, we are getting ready to welcome back a number of the volunteers and passengers who were there on that special day. Sadly some of the volunteers from those early days are no longer with us, but most are, and even more impressive is that several are still active volunteers.

Bill Black, for example, was in charge of Keighley station on the reopening day, and he continues to this day to be a very active Railway Trustee and Director, with a volunteering career that has included a heritage diesel unit driver and Railway Chairman.

To celebrate the reopening, we have an eight-day Gala, which will see visiting locomotives recreating some of the railway’s great achievements.

We were the first railway in the country to appreciate the importance of the heritage diesel traction, so held the first diesel gala.

These events are now commonplace, but followed our lead, and we will be holding a diesel-focused day in recognition.

As a pioneer in the heritage rail movement, we were the first to rescue a steam locomotive from Dai Woodham’s scrapyard in Barry.

We also amassed a very impressive fleet of locomotives, many of which are in operation today, but also several that went on to be based elsewhere.

As a result of this we are looking forward to hosting a visit of ‘Royal Scot’, which is hauling pre-booked trains on June 25, 26 and 27.

Sunday, June 24 sees us relaunch into traffic the locomotive that hauled the reopening train, which we recreate on June 29.

We have eight days of special events between June 24 and July 1, so please check the website for further details.

I do hope that you will be able to join us in our celebration and do check the website for the latest details and for our programme of events throughout the year.