THOUSANDS of steam rail enthusiasts flocked to stations along the Keighley and Worth Valley line to enjoy the railway’s annual gala at the weekend.

Operations manager Noel Hartley said they were delighted with the numbers which were around 20 per cent up on the previous year.

“We are delighted to have had another successful event with between 2,500 and 3,000 passengers using the trains.

“There has been a host of attractions for enthusiasts and non-enthusiasts to see, including the steam crane and the LMS Jubilee class Bahamas locomotive which is the first time it has pulled trains on our line.

“We have had an array of engines for people to see in a range of colours as many have commented that the ones we have mostly are ‘boring’ black. The event has proved successful for the area too with B&B’s full and plenty of people using the local hostelries.”

The KWVR had promised an amazing array of steam locos for the Steam Gala to showcase home and visiting trains ranging from small shunting engines to large and powerful express locomotives.

The “wonderful celebration of steam power” was intended to provide a trip down memory lane for both enthusiasts and the general public.

Flagship locos but for the weekend included two that recently returned to the Worth Valley line: the LMS ‘Jubilee’ class Bahamas, which has not been at a steam gala for more than 20 years, and British Railways Standard 2 78022 which only came back ‘into traffic’ in October last year.

Ivatt 41241, which returned to the line last June following an overhaul, was also in the line-up. Black 5 45212 returned to the railway after performing up and down the UK on the mainline for the majority of last year.

The KWVR but the first appearance on their line for a class 2 46521, from the Great Central Railway in Loughborough, so it could be paired with the railway’s own class 2, 78022.

The gala also showcased the operation of the LNER Grafton Steam Crane at Oakworth station.

The KWVR was the first to organise galas and has been holding them each year since 1970. Initially they were put on twice annually but were reduced to one to allow other events throughout the year.