One of my earliest memories from my childhood was being taken by steam train from Newton le Willows to Abergele in North Wales for the annual one week holiday, which we spent, in a small caravan.
Steam trains were part of my childhood and I always had a fascination for the beauty and power of these industrial beasts. As we all know these magnificent pieces of engineering and design were phased out by the 1970s to be replaced by anodyne diesel and electric trains.
However, throughout the country there are pockets of enthusiasts who try to keep the memory of the “steam age” alive by running bits of railway line with what is left of the trains of that era.
One such railway is The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway which is a 5-mile-long (8 km) branch line that served mills and villages in the Worth valley and is now a heritage railway in West Yorkshire, England. It runs from Keighley to Oxenhope and it connects to the national rail network at Keighley railway Station.
Having promised myself for so long that I must visit the railway, this morning I bit the bullet and set off at the crack of dawn to get there early. A forty-minute drive and I was in Oxenhope at 8.50am only to find that the first steam train would not be operating until 11.00am.
So I drove into Haworth and grabbed myself a cup of coffee after which, I wandered down to the sheds where the steam trains are kept. I was in luck as the trains were being prepared for the days exertions with numerous men fussing around the two trains. They looked magnificent in the early morning light.
I returned to Oxonhope in time to catch the first steam train at 11.00am. I stood at the far end of the platform waiting for the trains arrival and when it did appear it did not disappoint, in fact it slowed and then let off steam in all directions enabling me to catch it on my camera
The return journey takes about 1 hour (at a very modest speed) but it is the nostalgia of being pulled by a beautiful steam train, which is what the experience is about. There were lots of “mature “ passengers, families with kids and particularly young children who gazed in awe at such a magnificent machine.
The actual journey is just over 5 miles but it is the memories that being on board conjures up, the smell of steam when you lean out of the window and see numerous heads leaning out as well capturing the magic moment on camera. The station at Oxenhope is small but beautifully preserved, has an excellent “buffet carriage” and run by staff and volunteers who are only too keen to share their knowledge of the history of the line.
Give yourself a treat and go and wallow in some industrial nostalgia.