How one of preser­va­tion’s pi­o­neers is de­vel­op­ing its plans

Con­sid­ered by the NRM as a pos­si­ble ‘out­sta­tion’, the Keigh­ley & Worth Val­ley Rail­way is now tak­ing stock and look­ing to im­prove its visi­tor ex­pe­ri­ence.

Steam Railway (UK) - - Contents -

The Ba­hamas Lo­co­mo­tive So­ci­ety’s mu­seum is like a TARDIS - it looks small from the out­side, but it’s huge when you step in­side.” That de­scrip­tion of the unas­sum­ing Mid­land Rail­way goods shed at In­grow West was coined by for­mer Na­tional Rail­way Mu­seum di­rec­tor Steve Davies, around the time that the Keigh­ley & Worth Val­ley Rail­way was be­ing put for­ward as an of­fi­cial ‘out­sta­tion’ of the NRM. But it’s a metaphor that could just as eas­ily be ap­plied to the KWVR it­self. This preser­va­tion pi­o­neer from the 1960s has only ever been one of the move­ment’s shorter lines - just a few chains shy of five miles - yet it seems to defy the laws of physics. With five sta­tions and a halt, two tun­nels, and a viaduct packed into that dis­tance, it some­how feels twice as long as it re­ally is. It’s also a ‘TARDIS’ in the sense that it’s a time ma­chine - or at least, one of the clos­est things to it that you can find on the preser­va­tion map. To walk through the door of any of the KWVR’s sta­tions is to pass through a por­tal into a carefully cul­ti­vated re-cre­ation of the 1950s, where the lo­co­mo­tives are black, the stock ma­roon, and the stone sta­tions cov­ered in BR enamel. A ‘liv­ing mu­seum’ seems the only apt de­scrip­tion for it - yet, as we shall see, it was not un­til the NRM pro­posal was put for­ward that the KWVR re­ally be­gan to con­sider it­self in such terms. And so, while the NRM part­ner­ship has been put on the back burner as cir­cum­stances changed, it has started trains of thought that will help to turn the Worth Val­ley into an even bet­ter rail­way ex­pe­ri­ence.

The first com­mu­nity rail­way?

But how ex­actly do you im­prove what is al­ready such a fine re‑cre­ation of a by­gone age? In fact, tak­ing that fur­ther, isn’t be­ing a ‘liv­ing mu­seum’, to a greater or lesser ex­tent, one of the key con­cepts be­hind pretty much any pre­served line? “That’s a very in­ter­est­ing point,” replies KWVR Chair­man Matt Stroh, “be­cause ac­tu­ally, for some of our vol­un­teers, I wouldn’t say that it is. “It was never our orig­i­nal in­ten­tion to be a tourist at­trac­tion ‑ we sim­ply set out to keep the line open as a trans­port provider.” Lo­cal res­i­dents make good use of a long‑stand­ing rail­card of­fer ‑ and, says Matt, in heavy snow the line can still be the only way in and out of Ox­en­hope. “So we never close,” he con­cludes. This doesn’t quite mean that it’s a 365‑day‑a‑year op­er­a­tion, but it cer­tainly keeps run­ning through­out the win­ter ‑ and so it doesn’t have any long pe­riod of down­time for main­te­nance, like more tourist‑ ori­ented rail­ways. This is why, even in the height of sum­mer, there will of­ten be only one lo­co­mo­tive in steam ‑ to ease the pres­sure on what is, al­most en­tirely, a vol­un­teer‑run op­er­a­tion, with­out even a gen­eral man­ager. “A work­ers’ col­lec­tive” is how Mike Holmes, vice‑Chair­man of the Vin­tage Car­riages Trust at In­grow, de­scribes the demo­cratic struc­ture that was set up by founder Bob Cryer back in the 1960s. “We’re fiercely proud of our vol­un­teer ethos,” says Matt. “We’ve never been big on em­ploy­ees, and we don’t want to be.” For that rea­son, the step to a full‑blown daily com­muter ser­vice ‑ some­thing that has been dis­cussed with the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties ‑ is one that the KWVR re­mains very wary of. “Hav­ing a na­tional rail op­er­a­tor run­ning it could be a real clash of cul­tures,” com­ments Matt. “We wouldn’t want to

see ‘156’ units on the line, and would na­tional rail staff want to work by gaslight, or have to light coal fires when they start work in the morn­ing?”

Steeped in his­tory

And so, largely left to its own de­vices, the KWVR is now look­ing afresh at its na­tional trea­sure of a steam-era time­warp - and what sto­ries it can tell to vis­i­tors. The other thing that the KWVR is “fiercely proud of,” says Matt, is “be­ing a com­plete branch line - like a model rail­way. “Yet when it comes to the ex­pe­ri­ence… we ex­pect peo­ple to un­der­stand the rail­way, with­out re­ally ex­plain­ing it.” “Ev­ery­thing here works,” says Bill Black, vice-pres­i­dent of the Vin­tage Car­riages Trust and the KWVR Preser­va­tion So­ci­ety. “The block bells, the tele­graph wires - even the in­ter­nal ‘om­nibus’ tele­phone sys­tem is pretty his­toric. “These are all lit­tle things that we’d miss if they weren’t there - but try­ing to ar­tic­u­late that to vis­i­tors is more dif­fi­cult, and we’ve lacked a mu­seum cu­ra­tor to rep­re­sent the pas­sen­gers and put them­selves in their shoes.” That re­mark un­der­lines the ex­tent to which, whether as a trans­port provider or as a tourist at­trac­tion, the Ox­en­hope branch has been pre­served in aspic. To the KWVR, it had be­come a nat­u­ral and ac­cepted way of life; to the NRM, it of­fered a golden op­por­tu­nity that static dis­plays at York and Shildon could not. “The NRM couldn’t tell the story of an op­er­a­tional rail­way, and in five miles we can,” says Matt. “We were built to serve this val­ley and its mills - you can see the whole his­tory of the In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion here.” As things panned out, with cuts in fund­ing, changes of per­son­nel, and the shelv­ing of ‘NRM-Plus’, none of the ideas put for­ward would come to pass - such as ad­di­tional NRM brand­ing for the KWVR, or reg­u­lar shut­tle trains be­tween it and York, as well as loan­ing lo­co­mo­tives and stock. “The door is still open,” says Matt, “but it’s gone quiet, and is now more some­thing for us to man­age.”

Right tools for the job

Tak­ing the first steps in those shoes is the Ba­hamas Lo­co­mo­tive So­ci­ety, which - as part of the Her­itage Lot­tery-funded over­haul of its epony­mous ‘Ju­bilee’ No. 45596 (see pages 30-32) - is set­ting up a ‘Learn­ing Coach’ in LMS tool van No. DM395470 (orig­i­nally 1924-built Cor­ri­dor Com­pos­ite No. 3515). The re­build­ing of this ve­hi­cle by Rail Restora­tions North East of Shildon has given the BLS an ed­u­ca­tional fa­cil­ity that’s up there with the best of them, with the for­mer tool

stor­age area turned into a class­room, and the re­main­ing com­part­ments re­stored - one to orig­i­nal con­di­tion, and another hous­ing an IT room. The third com­part­ment is the of­fice of Deb­o­rah Cross, who - as well as be­ing the ‘Au­di­ence De­vel­op­ment Co-or­di­na­tor’ for the HLF pro­ject - also now works for the KWVR and the Vin­tage Car­riages Trust two days a week, giv­ing the rail­way the ‘mu­seum cu­ra­tor’ that it needs. ‘Rail Story’, as the de­vel­op­ment has been chris­tened, aims to weave In­grow sta­tion, the in­de­pen­dent BLS and Vin­tage Car­riages Trust all to­gether into one co­he­sive whole, mak­ing it a ma­jor at­trac­tion in its own right. Al­ready, says BLS press of­fi­cer John Hil­lier, visi­tor fig­ures to the so­ci­ety’s mu­seum were up by 86% last year and a fur­ther 11% this year. “Right from the be­gin­ning, some­one had the fore­sight to make In­grow - the one site that has flat road ac­cess - into a rail­way cen­tre,” says Matt, “but there’s more that could be done with it, and the BLS have to take the credit for that.” Rather like the BLS’ goods shed, the VCT’s ac­cred­ited mu­seum houses much more than its un­pre­pos­sess­ing ap­pear­ance might sug­gest: an eclec­tic mix of nine vin­tage car­riages span­ning 74 years, from 1876-built Manch­ester, Sh­effield & Lin­colnshire four-wheel Tri-com­pos­ite No. 176 to Bulleid Open Third No. S1469S of 1950. And, as Mike Holmes is keen to stress, “they’re not just stuffed and mounted” - with the ex­cep­tion of GNR Lava­tory Brake Com­pos­ite No. 2856, which is stopped for frame repairs, and the one re­main­ing restora­tion pro­ject, Mid­land Rail­way six-wheel Com­pos­ite No. 358 “the only Mid­land coach on a Mid­land branch” - all are op­er­a­tional.

Ex­pand­ing uni­verse

Even within a ‘TARDIS’, though, space isn’t in­fi­nite, and one ve­hi­cle in the col­lec­tion - Met­ro­pol­i­tan Rail­way Third No. 465 - has been on loan to the Buck­ing­hamshire Rail­way Cen­tre for the last four years, sim­ply to keep it un­der cover. The trust has there­fore funded a £150,000, 30-foot, sin­gle-road ex­ten­sion to its shed. Due to a sewer be­neath the sid­ings, be­tween the shed and the run­ning line, an ex­ten­sion to the rear was the only op­tion - but even then, it was “a very dif­fi­cult piece of land,” says Bill Black. Be­cause it over­hangs a cul­vert, to build the ex­ten­sion across both roads of the shed would have cost £300,000: “£150k is man­age­able, and it gives us the flex­i­bil­ity we need.” Such is the crowded na­ture of this heav­ily in­dus­tri­alised val­ley, space ev­ery­where is at a pre­mium, and “ev­ery pro­ject we do is an engi­neer­ing night­mare,” says Matt. The ex­ten­sion to Ox­en­hope car­riage shed, for in­stance, also had to be built over a cul­vert.

The NRM couldn’t tell the story of an op­er­a­tional rail­way, and in five miles we can

Queens­bury ruled out

One of the few other places that of­fers room for ex­pan­sion is ‘GN Straight’, north of In­grow, where the Great North­ern line to Queens­bury and Halifax branched off, and where land has been ac­quired to pro­vide road ac­cess for another shed. Be­fore any­one asks, by the way, the KWVR does not have - and has never had - any plans to ex­tend its run­ning line by re­build­ing part of the GNR branch. “In the very early days, the de­ci­sion had to be taken on which of the two lines to save,” says Matt, “so the GNR route hasn’t been con­sid­ered and has never been an am­bi­tion.” Not hav­ing any ex­ten­sion dreams, though, “can make it dif­fi­cult - we’ve ef­fec­tively ‘com­pleted the model rail­way’ but ev­ery­one wants a vi­sion to work to­wards.” So while the NRM part­ner­ship may have failed to come off, the sil­ver lin­ing is that it has now given the KWVR those goals for the fu­ture. “The vi­sion,” says Matt, “is to treat each sta­tion as a floor in a mu­seum. “Keigh­ley rep­re­sents the big ur­ban sta­tion, and we plan to use the [cur­rently dis­used] base of the wa­ter tower for a small in­tro­duc­tory dis­play. “We need to get the mes­sage across to vis­i­tors that there are reg­u­lar trains, and then make sure that there is some­thing for them to do, wher­ever they get off. “At In­grow, we have the BLS and VCT mu­se­ums telling the story of rail­way preser­va­tion; Damems can be in­ter­preted as the halt built for the work­ers at the val­ley’s big­gest mill; and at Oak­worth, we could pro­vide some Rail­way Chil­dren cos­tumes for the kids… another ex­am­ple of look­ing at it from a pas­sen­ger’s point of view.” One of the most im­por­tant im­prove­ments to the pas­sen­ger ex­pe­ri­ence will be on the cards at Ox­en­hope in the near fu­ture. For such a long-es­tab­lished rail­way, with 120,000 vis­i­tors a year, the KWVR’s cater­ing fa­cil­i­ties - housed in a Mk 1 coach at the ter­mi­nus - leave a lit­tle to be de­sired. Brad­ford Coun­cil has ap­proved plans for the 100-seater café ad­ja­cent to the lo­co­mo­tive dis­play shed, and an ex­ten­sion to the car park to com­pen­sate for the space used but the pro­ject is now on hold (see News). “We own all the rail­way and paid off the mortgage in the 1980s, so we’re debt-free and cash-rich,” says Matt, “and we know the busi­ness case for the café stands up - but it is a big com­mit­ment.” The fi­nal ‘mu­seum floors’, at Ha­worth and Ox­en­hope, re­spec­tively, are the lo­co­mo­tive and car­riage work­shops. Al­though pas­sen­gers can get ‘up close and per­sonal’ with the lo­co­mo­tives at In­grow, Ha­worth shed and yard re­mains a ‘closed shop’, save for guided tours at spe­cial events. Pro­pos­als in­clude a view­ing gallery, pub­lic ac­cess to a new shed which will cover the ex-Brad­ford Ham­mer­ton Street wheel­drop, or even ex­tend­ing the run­ning shed into the car park to pro­vide a fur­ther dis­play shed for stored lo­co­mo­tives In fact, the KWVR can al­ready keep out-of-ticket ma­chines safe and dry, thanks to the shed at Ox­en­hope that cur­rently con­tains BR ‘4MT’ 2-6-4T No. 80002, LMS ‘8F’ 2-8-0 No. 48431, ‘Jinty’ 0-6-0T No. 47279, Long­moor Mil­i­tary Rail­way ‘Aus­ter­ity’ No. 118 Brus­sels, and Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0T No. 31 Ham­burg. This build­ing is open to the pub­lic, but could also do with bet­ter in­ter­pre­ta­tion, says Matt - who makes a very in­trigu­ing (not to men­tion ironic) com­ment as we look over the rows of un­ser­vice­able en­gines that are kept look­ing pris­tine by the rail­way’s younger vol­un­teers. To the un­trained eye, “they look like they should work,” he says. In comparison to those that other rail­ways have left sit­ting out­side rust­ing away for years, “it’s quite hard to ex­plain to peo­ple that they ac­tu­ally need an over­haul!” A case in point is No. 80002. Be­neath its still-pre­sentable lined black paint­work, it has a re­place­ment steel fire­box that suf­fered some ma­jor prob­lems dur­ing its last ten-year ticket. “It has al­ready gone to Ha­worth for an ini­tial as­sess­ment and been sent back as too ex­pen­sive,” says Matt, “so the ‘8F’ and ‘Jinty’ are the op­tions for the next over­haul.” Industrials like the ‘Aus­ter­ity’ “won’t keep up with the timetable any more,” he adds. “We run trains of five to seven coaches, and with the Pull­mans that can be quite heavy - so lo­co­mo­tives in our core fleet need to be big ones.” It was for this rea­son that the rail­way launched its first-ever ap­peal to over­haul a lo­co­mo­tive - namely its cel­e­brated Ivatt ‘2MT’ 2-6-2T No. 41241, the pi­lot en­gine on the ‘Re­open­ing Spe­cial’ of June 29 1968. It will be back in steam, in its 1968 red liv­ery, to mark the 50th an­niver­sary in 2018 - but at a cost of £325,000.

Ev­ery pro­ject we do is an engi­neer­ing night­mare

“That was out of all pro­por­tion for a Class 2,” says Matt, “so it had to be an ap­peal.” A sec­ond ‘2MT’ - BR Stan­dard 2-6-0 No. 78022 - is also un­der­go­ing over­haul, al­beit at a slightly cheaper es­ti­mate of £200,000, and par­tially funded by its owning group, the Stan­dard 4 Lo­co­mo­tive So­ci­ety (SR459). Work has just com­menced on strip­ping down Lan­cashire & York­shire Rail­way ‘Iron­clad’ 0-6-0 No. 957, which has proved its worth on the vin­tage trains and ‘foot­plate ex­pe­ri­ence’ du­ties. The op­er­a­tional fleet is cur­rently look­ing “pretty sound” at five lo­co­mo­tives: BR ‘4MT’ 4-6-0 No. 75078, the unique wartime freight two­some of WD 2-8-0 No. 90733 and ‘S160’ 2-8-0 No. 5820 ‘Big Jim’, Taff Vale Rail­way ‘O2’ 0-6-2T No. 85 and Mid­land ‘4F’ 0-6-0 No. 43924. How­ever, the WD’s ticket is due to ex­pire in 2017, and ‘Big Jim’ is cur­rently stopped due to cracks in its flue tubes - so the avail­abil­ity of a sixth en­gine will be es­pe­cially wel­come. This is ex-Lo­s­tock Hall ‘Black Five’ No. 45212, which is on a ten-year ‘re­store-and-run’ loan to Ian Riley - putting it back on the main line for the first time since the end of steam in Au­gust 1968 - but will be avail­able for sev­eral months a year in the win­ter sea­son when not out and about on the na­tional net­work. Re­call­ing Matt’s ear­lier com­ments about the rail­way “never clos­ing”, this will help to keep the pres­sure off the Ha­worth vol­un­teers at a time when most other rail­ways would be stop­ping their fleets for main­te­nance.

Sig­nalling the way

Vol­un­teer re­source has been the lim­it­ing fac­tor on another ma­jor pro­ject, and one that shows how, in fact, the KWVR is far from “com­plet­ing the model rail­way”. 1950s time­warp that it is, there’s one im­por­tant set-piece that, apart from the pass­ing loop at Damems, it’s still miss­ing: sem­a­phore sig­nals. Mid­land Rail­way sig­nal boxes, re­cov­ered from Esholt and Ship­ley Bin­g­ley Junc­tion, now stand at Ha­worth loop and Keigh­ley re­spec­tively, ready for the day that those sem­a­phores - all of which have been ac­quired and are in stor­age - can be erected. But it will still be a few years yet be­fore ei­ther ‘box ac­cepts its first train. Res­ig­nalling Keigh­ley has been on the wish list for a num­ber of years, ever since the KWVR first gained ac­cess to Plat­form 3 (in its ear­lier years, BR re­tained this as re­serve ca­pac­ity for trains from Skip­ton). “If we got con­trac­tors in we could do the sig­nalling in six months,” says Matt, “but again, we don’t want to lose the vol­un­teer ethos.” He sums up: “With 500-plus vol­un­teers all work­ing at ca­pac­ity, some­times you need new blood to re­alise that, with a few tweaks, you could do new things. “We re­ally need a step change to com­pete as an at­trac­tion - Ha­worth is still seen as some­where to go just for a cou­ple of hours on a Sun­day - and the NRM part­ner­ship would have given us that.” Per­haps this is a prob­lem that, to a greater or lesser ex­tent, all pre­served rail­ways can end up suf­fer­ing from? Do we some­times get so wrapped up in the busi­ness of run­ning trains, restor­ing lo­co­mo­tives and coaches, and re­pair­ing age­ing in­fra­struc­ture, that we need to take a step back and, in Bill Black’s words, “put our­selves in the pas­sen­ger’s shoes”? Just as im­por­tant, if we are to stake a claim to be­ing ‘liv­ing mu­se­ums’, how many other rail­ways have taken that step back from just run­ning trains, to ask them­selves ‘what can we teach our vis­i­tors with this?’ In so do­ing, the KWVR could once again be putting it­self at the pi­o­neer­ing fore­front of rail­way preser­va­tion - and show­ing oth­ers that it’s ‘Worth tak­ing another look’ at what you can of­fer.

KARL HEATH

The time­less Worth Val­ley of­fers bound­less op­por­tu­ni­ties for evoca­tive re‑cre­ations of the gritty north­ern steam era, al­though this view of Mytholmes Viaduct is only pos­si­ble dur­ing steam galas with early morn­ing trains. Stal­wart ‘4F’ 0‑6‑0 No. 43924 is the ap­pro­pri­ate Mid­land mo­tive power dur­ing the re­cent ‘Au­tumn Steam Spec­tac­u­lar’ event on Oc­to­ber 9.

JOHN HIL­LIER/ BA­HAMAS LO­CO­MO­TIVE SO­CI­ETY GRA­HAM NUT­TALL

The Ba­hamas Lo­co­mo­tive So­ci­ety’s ‘Learn­ing Coach’, for­mer South­port tool van No. DM395470, in the dock at In­grow. New sig­nage di­rects the visi­tor to the sta­tion’s com­bined ‘Rail Story’ at­trac­tion of the BLS and Vin­tage Car­riages Trust mu­se­ums. A mem­ber of the sta­tion staff at Oak­worth lights a re­cal­ci­trant gas lamp with the aid of a box of Swan Ves­tas on Fe­bru­ary 27.

ALAN WEAVER

Haul­ing two ve­hi­cles from the Vin­tage Car­riages Trust’s col­lec­tion (Bulleid No. S1469S and SECR-de­sign ‘Match­board’ Brake Third No. S3554S) the Ba­hamas Lo­co­mo­tive So­ci­ety’s LNWR ‘Coal Tank’ No. 1054 de­parts from Keigh­ley on Oc­to­ber 9. The for­mer Ship­ley sig­nal box on the right awaits restora­tion to work­ing or­der, while the base of the wa­ter tower on the left will be turned into a small mu­seum to wel­come vis­i­tors to the rail­way.

AN­DREW DEN­NI­SON

The two most re­cent ad­di­tions to the work­ing KWVR fleet were cap­tured to­gether just out­side Ha­worth on Oc­to­ber 1. Mak­ing its first trial runs, fol­low­ing over­haul by Ian Riley for main line op­er­a­tion, was end‑of‑steam celebrity ‘Black Five’ No. 45212, while BR ‘4MT’ 4‑6‑0 No. 75078 ‑ re­turned to steam in De­cem­ber 2014 ‑ was work­ing the ser­vice train. DUN­CAN LANGTREE One of the most prized lo­co­mo­tives in the KWVR col­lec­tion, sole sur­viv­ing WD 2‑8‑0 No. 90733, passes the Vin­tage Car­riages Trust shed as it ar­rives at In­grow West on June 5. In the yard, the Ba­hamas Lo­co­mo­tive So­ci­ety’s Hudswell Clarke 0‑6‑0T Nun­low shunts one of the Trust’s coaches, GNR six‑wheel Brake Third No. 589.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.