Saturday, 9 October 2010

Keighley & Worth Valley Railway trip

Organised from Styal Mill for volunteers and friends, our coach left the Mill and after some difficulty with directions (ever the way with coaches, in my experience) found its way to Oxenhope, the southern terminus of the railway (

The train from Keighley arrived, hauled by BR Standard class 4 tank locomotive 80002. The standard 4 tanks are one of my favourite locomotives, so I introduced myself to the driver as steam locomotive footplate crew on the Museum of Science & Industry (MoSI) railway in Manchester and asked if I could come up onto the footplate while the engine ran-around its train. Running around involves uncoupling the loco from the front of the train, drawing forward, running back past the train on the parallel line, then drawing forward again to be coupled to what was the back of the train, for the return journey down the valley to Keighley.

The driver was happy for me to 'come aboard', so I did.

As ever, please click on the pictures for a larger image.

The cat that got the cream. Me on the footplate of Standard 4 Tank 80002 at Oxenhope for its run-around the train

80002 having reversed past its train continues towards the points before pulling forward on the line nearest the camera to be coupled onto the other end of the train

The loco having coupled on again for the run back down the valley, I climb down from the cab

Fellow Styal Guides Andy Palliser, Mike Hunter, and me boarded the train and were delighted to discover it included the 'Jubilee Bar Car' in the consist, a Mk1 coach converted into a real ale bar. And the ale was very good indeed! The K&WVR is a railway that really understands the relationship between steam and real ale.

I had been recommended the fish & chip shop at Ingrow as one of the best chippys to be found, so as it was now past lunchtime we got off at that station to sample it. It was an unprepossessing concrete box of a building just up the road from the station, and if I hadn't know better I wouldn't have given it a second look. But wow! It served easily the most delicious fish and chips I can ever remember tasting.

Back at Ingrow station, we had a look around the railway museum.

Mike Hunter and me at the Ingrow museum

The next train down the valley was hauled by ex-WD Austerity 2-8-0 90733, and we boarded for the ride down to the line's northern terminus at Keighley. We stayed on the train during its stop at Keighley enjoying another pint of superb ale from the bar car, and travelled on it up the valley again, non stop, to Haworth where the line's locomotive depot is located. The locomotives belonging to the railway are in one of three 'stages':

1) In service on the railway if they are in working order.

2) On display at Oxenhope shed if their boiler certificate has expired or they otherwise require rebuilding, from where they take their turn to move on to stage 3.

3) At the Haworth sheds being being refurbished for service.

We joined a tour of the loco sheds and were fascinated as our guide showed us these latter group of engines being worked on. We were amazed at the costs involved - £25,000 for a superheater header casting, £10,000 per wheel for re-tyring, and between £400,000 and £600,000 for a boiler rebuild. It can easily cost well over £1,000,000 to completely refurbish a locomotive, and that's with the labour on the railway being provided free of charge by volunteers. In an attempt to reduce costs, the railway is trying its hand at refurbishing a boiler on site, rather than sending it away to a specialist boiler company. So far this looks like it might reduce boiler refurbish costs by as much as 75%. However, with the volume of work to be completed, most boilers will still have to be sent out to contractors for repair.

Standing between Mike and myself, our 'shed guide' at Haworth keeps us entertained

Standing in the Haworth shed yard, the delightful 1874 Evans well tank 'Bellerophon' is a recent returnee to the K&WVR

We finished our day on the K&WVR with a train ride back up to Oxenhope in time to join a tour around the carriage sheds. Star of this show was the 1912 Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway 'Blackpool Club Car'. This was discovered as a cricket pavilion at Borrowash, Derbyshire but originally daily conveyed businessmen who lived on the Fylde to their businesses in Manchester. It had luxury armchairs, each 'owned' by a club member, and there was a travelling steward to serve refreshments.

The club car in its original condition

Replica armchairs in the partly-complete refurbished club car

The carriage shed tour finished in time for us to rejoin our coach for the return to Styal Mill after an excellent steamy day in Bronte country.

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