ONE of the Bradford district's top tourist attractions is celebrating today after the Government announced a £1 million grant to ensure its long-term survival.

The money has been allocated to the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, which is used by more than 250,000 passengers a year, with trains hauled by steam locomotives and heritage diesels.

The railway, which runs through Bronte country between Keighley and Oxenhope, will use the cash to rebuild a historic bridge, which is in urgent need of repair.

The elderly structure carries the railway line over Bridgehouse Beck, in Haworth.

The Government said the funding would improve transport infrastructure in the region so that the local economy can continue to thrive.

The railway line has featured in dozens of films and TV shows over the years including The Railway Children in 1970.

David Pearson, Co-ordinator for External Finance & Resources at the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway Preservation Society, said: "We're overjoyed to have received this funding, which will be going towards the complete rebuilding of the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway's bridge 27 in the middle of the railway at Haworth and in the middle of Haworth village.

"It means that the long term survival of train services on the railway is ensured and means everything to our railway, our villages and our people."

The original bridge was built in 1867 before the current bridge was built as part of a reconstruction in 1889.

The existing bridge is two separate structures carrying the railway over Bridgehouse Beck, but the two structures share the same abutments and pier.

The upstream structure, called the siding span, carries the line into Haworth Yard. It received significant work in the late 1970s and is not part of the upcoming scheme. The downstream structure, referred to as the main line-span, now needs renewal. This is due to the condition of the abutments and pier it sits on and the iron girders themselves.

Closure of the bridge would have meant cutting the railway line in half, causing huge social and economic impacts to the area.

Planning for the renewal started around 10 years ago, after major flooding in 2015 the KWVR changed its plan in order to develop a more sustainable long-term plan which involves removing the central pier under the structure to improve the flow in the river.

The current plan involves the installation of 10 16m deep piles, 5 on each side of the river, behind the existing bridge abutments in May 2024.

The existing bridge will be demolished before the piles installed in May are exposed and new foundations installed. Due to site constraints, we are having to use a steel deck rather than the cheaper reinforced concrete deck. This will be lifted into position in one piece by a 500-ton crane.

Once complete, the KWVR will have a new bridge with a 120-year design life.

It is one of 45 treasured institutions across the UK given funding as part of the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities' Community Ownership Fund.

Pubs, museums and sports clubs are among the other beneficiaries.

Jacob Young, Minister for Levelling Up, said: "Our priority is to support communities and deliver opportunities right across the country, which is why we're investing £12.3m to secure the future of cherished community institutions.

"These places from pubs to historic railway lines are the golden thread which run through our social fabric, and keeping them going is vital for supporting communities."

Keighley MP Robbie Moore said: “So much planning and hard work has gone into Keighley & Worth Valley’s Railway’s bid for funding and I was so proud to champion this bid with Ministers at the Department for Levelling Up and Communities and in Parliament.

"This million-pound funding from the Government is another huge win for Keighley this year and our iconic Keighley & Worth Valley railway, which contributes more than £15 million per year to our area.

"This move will secure KWVR’s place in our community long into the future and it yet another long-term step from the government focussed on protecting our town’s heritage. I’m delighted to see a government listening to our town again.”