Historian and Keighley celebrity Ian Dewhirst made a plea for more people to use public transport – especially trains – when he unveiled a locomotive named in his honour.

Mr Dewhirst – affectionately known as Mr Keighley – revealed his name emblazoned on the side of a Northern Rail 158 diesel unit at a special ceremony at Keighley station on Monday.

A non-driver, the 72-year-old ex-Keighley reference librarian – who writes the popular Memory Lane column in the Keighley News – directed his appeal especially at people over 60.

“You can travel all over the area for just a few coppers,” he said. “I know car drivers who have never applied for their pensioner’s pass who then drive where they could go by train and then grumble when there’s nowhere to park.”

The train is decked out in a new livery of images of the town and countryside and of the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway.

And inside there is a series of panels featuring locations around Keighley and a potted biography of Mr Dewhirst, who was made an MBE in 1999 and has an honorary doctorate from Bradford University.

“I feel very honoured and humble. But I can’t treat it too seriously – it’s just a bit of fun. I can say that I was flabbergasted when I was approached about it,” he said.

As he spoke, he brandished an “I love Keighley” bag which he promised to take on his shopping trips in future.”

Throughout the ceremony, rousing tunes were played as background music by the Jens Hislop Oompah Band and a waft of smoke drifted across from the 1887-built steam engine which featured as the Green Dragon in the film The Railway Children.

The new livery is jointly financed by Northern Rail, Keighley Town Centre Association and the Bronte Country Partnership with input from Keighley Town Council and Bradford Council.

Susan Mendoza, of the Keighley Town Centre Association, said: “We feel proud that this train will take a positive message about Keighley throughout the North.