JENNY Agutter said it was “joyful” to be back at Oakworth Station, where she joined the cast of The Railway Children Return ahead of the film’s world premiere.

The sequel to The Railway Children, which Jenny starred in aged 17, sees her back playing Bobbie, now a grandmother in wartime Yorkshire. On Sunday Jenny and the cast, including Sheridan Smith and Sir Tom Courtenay, were at Oakworth Station to board a steam train known as ‘Big Jim’ along the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway to the premiere. The red carpet screening was held at Keighley Picture House, where crowds gathered to see the stars arrive.

“It feels quite emotional to be here,” said Jenny. “I first stepped on the footplate of a train here and I’ve loved steam trains ever since.” She said the film, about young evacuees arriving by train, has a poignant resonance with children today: “It is, as E Nesbit’s original story was, a way of seeing the world as children see it. We had no idea when we were filming that children would soon be leaving their homes and families in Ukraine, by train. Ultimately I think our film is a story of hope.”

Sheridan Smith, who play Bobbie’s daughter, said locations such as Oakworth and Haworth are integral. “It could only be filmed here, with these stunning locations and trains,” she said. “The original film means so much to people, I used to watch it with my mum and dad, and it’s lovely to take it forward with a new set of children. They were a proper little gang, I loved being with them.”

Austin Haynes, 14, who attends Bradford theatre school Articulate, plays the son of Sheridan’s character. He said: “We were in a bubble when filming, because of Covid, so we bonded. All this feels like being part of something special.”

American actor Kenneth Aikins plays a young GI. He said: “This was my first time in Yorkshire, it’s beautiful.”

Game of Thrones actor John Bradley, who plays stationmaster Perks, said: “I was overwhelmed by the beauty of this place.” Referring to Bernard Cribbins, who played the original Perks, he added: “I picked certain aspects of his character. For me it’s about how my Perks connects to Bernard’s character."

Director Morgan Matthews said most of the filming took place locally. “We were lucky to still have locations people recognise from the original,” he added.