WORK is underway on a £100,000 scheme to transform a historic water tower into a visitor centre.

The original Midland Railway structure – which dates back to 1883 – remains an integral part of Keighley & Worth Valley Railway operations, still being used for locomotives to draw water.

A 30,000-gallon water tank sits on the roof of the building.

As part of the project, the tower – which is located at the end of Platform 4 at Keighley Station – will undergo internal refurbishment to create a visitor space, complete with information about the history of the world-famous five-mile line and its locomotives. The operational function of the tower won't be affected.

The initiative is being supported by the Government-financed Keighley Towns Fund, and a £42,000 grant from the Railway Heritage Trust.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council's portfolio holder for regeneration, transport and planning, says: "This historic water tower is believed to be the last functioning one of its kind nationally. It is a really important structure, and we are delighted it will have a new lease of life for the future while maintaining the crucial purpose for which it was built."

The project is also welcomed by Keighley Towns Fund chair, Ian Hayfield.

He says: "The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway is one of the leading educational, heritage and tourist attractions in the district. This project is part of a whole list of schemes considered and planned by the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway which will see it modernise and transform its offer, so it can continue to delight passengers and visitors for many years to come."

Initial work on the venture has included the clearing of vegetation and creation of an access pathway at the rear of the building.

Internal renovations have also started. A new raised floor will be installed to allow step-free access from the station platform, and there will be a glass floor to allow viewing of a water tower feature. A modern heating system will be provided.

Exhibits will include poster boards with screens, enabling interaction through a touchscreen tablet; a hands-on model outlining how the water tower works, and heritage videos, plus a Midland Railway map will be projected onto a wall.

A spokesperson adds: "The room configuration has been designed so it can be altered for one-off exhibits and presentations, and to allow a large floor space for multiple rows of seating."