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Keighley and Worth Valley Railway


Keighley and Worth Valley Railway

Keighley and Worth Valley Railway
Haworth Station
Locale West Yorkshire
Terminus Oxenhope
Connections Network Rail at Keighley
Commercial operations
Name Worth Valley Branch
Built by K. & W. V. Rly Co.
Original gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Preserved operations
Owned by Keighley & Worth Valley Preservation Society
Stations 6
Length 5 mi (8 km)
Preserved gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Preserved era 1950's
Commercial history
Opened 13 April 1867
1881 Midland Railway takes over ownership of line
1883 Keighley Station opened in current location
1884 Great Northern Railway extended into Keighley via part of the Worth Valley Branch
1892 Mytholmes Tunnel built
1948 BR takes over ownership / operation of line
1960 Diesel Railcars introduced
Closed to passengers 30 December 1961
Closed June 1962
Preservation history
1962 Keighley and Worth Valley Railway Preservation Society formed
1968 Worth Valley Line reopened
1971 Damems loop built
Headquarters Haworth
Keighley & Worth Valley Railway
to Skiption, Carlisie and the North
Original Keighley Station
to Leeds, Bradford Forster Square
and the South
to Keighley Goods Yard
to Queensbury, Bradford Exchange
and Halifax
Ingrow (West)
Ingrow Tunnel (150 yards)
River Worth
Damens Loop
Mytholmes Tunnel (75 yards)
to Haworth Yard
Haworth Loop
 Detailed version 
To Skipton, Carlisle
& The North
Site of original
Keighley station
To Leeds, Bradford
Forster Square & The South
To Keighley Goods Yard
to Queensbury, Bradford Exchange
and Halifax
Ingrow (West)
Ingrow Tunnel (150 yards)
River Worth
Damems Loop
Mytholmes Tunnel (75 yards)
To Haworth Yard
Haworth Loop

The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway is a 5-mile-long (8 km) branch line that served mills and villages in the Worth Valley and is now a heritage railway line in West Yorkshire, England. It runs from Keighley[1] to Oxenhope.[2] It connects to the national rail network at Keighley railway station.


  • History 1
    • Inception and building of the branch 1.1
    • Operation 1.2
    • Closure 1.3
    • Reopening 1.4
    • Operation as a preserved line 1.5
  • Stations and facilities 2
    • Keighley 2.1
    • Ingrow (West) 2.2
    • Damems 2.3
    • Oakworth 2.4
    • Haworth 2.5
    • Oxenhope 2.6
  • Commuter use 3
  • Rolling stock 4
  • Use in film, media and television 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Inception and building of the branch

In 1861, a Civil Engineer named John McLandsborough visited Haworth to pay tribute to Charlotte Brontë and was surprised to find that Haworth was not served by a railway. He decided that this should be changed and put forward a proposal for a branch running from the station at Keighley to Oxenhope, which was warmly received by a number of mill owners and other influential people in the area as well as the Midland Railway, the owners of the railway through Keighley. The branch served 15 mills around its terminus as well as others on the line, and these were likely to be a source of traffic.

It was reported to the meeting of these local gentlemen that the line would cost £30,000 to build.[3] In light of this fact, 3,134 shares worth £10 each were issued at this meeting, along with the election of directors, bankers, solicitors and engineers. Notable was the fact that J McLandsborough, the original proposer of the line (who dealt predominantly with water and sewerage engineering, but had experience of building the Otley and Ilkley Railway) was appointed acting engineer; whilst J. S. Crossley of the Midland Railway was appointed consultant engineer.

The railway was incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1862 and the first sod was cut on Shrove Tuesday, 9 February 1864 by Isaac Holden, the chairman of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.

The railway was built as single track, but with a trackbed wide enough to allow upgrading to double track if the need arose[3] and the work was estimated to take approximately one year to complete. However, there were some delays: the time taken for the contractors to get possession of the land which the railways were to be built on; a cow eating the plans of the line somewhere near Oakworth; and, complications in digging the tunnel at the direct south end of Ingrow West. This manifested itself in that the tunnel walls, when bored, were oozing quicksand resulting in the application of piles being driven down to the bedrock to support and stabilise the tunnel. Unfortunately, this meant that the Wesley Place Methodist Church was damaged through the vibration and movement of the earth. The KWVR had to pay £1,980 in damages to the church.[3]

The rails were completed in 1866, tracklaying having started at each end and now being joined in the middle. The line was tested with a locomotive from Ilkley, which took nearly 2 hours to get from Keighley to Oxenhope, but just 13 minutes to get back.[3] Unfortunately, before opening, violent storms struck the line in November of that year.

The opening ceremony was held on Saturday 13 April 1867. Unfortunately, the train got stuck on Keighley bank and again between Oakworth and Haworth, necessitating splitting of the train before carrying on with the journey. Finally, on 15 April 1867, public passenger services on the Worth Valley commenced.


The line was operated by the Midland Railway, who owned most of the rail network in the area, and was eventually bought by the Midland in part due to interest from the rival railway company, the Great Northern. Upon sale of the railway, the mill owners made a profit, which was unusual for many lines of that type, as (for strategic reasons) the Midland wanted to prevent the GN from taking over its territory. After becoming part of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway in 1923 during Grouping, ownership passed to British Railways (BR) following nationalisation in 1948.

The deviation was built as a condition of the buy out of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway by the Midland Railway. The need for the deviation was to avoid a large wooden trestle viaduct that crossed a mill pond, as the locals believed the viaduct was unsafe, and supposedly many alighted at Oakworth and continued on foot to Haworth to avoid crossing the viaduct. The original design for the deviation was to skirt the mill pond then through a cutting to rejoin the original formation. However, during construction the material in the cutting proved to be unstable, resulting in the construction of the short Mytholmes Tunnel. The original trestle viaduct can be seen in a picture hanging in the booking hall of Oakworth station.


British Railways closed the line in 1962 and their last scheduled passenger train ran on 31 December 1961.


Taff Vale 85 passes Damems Signal box, built to cope with the extra traffic generated by The Railway Children.

A preservation society was formed which bought the line from BR and reopened it on 29 June 1968 as a heritage railway. The line is now a major tourist attraction operated by 500+ volunteers and roughly 10 paid staff it carries more than 110,000 passengers a year.

The KWVR is currently one of only two preserved railways which operates a complete branch line in its original form, the other being the heritage Ecclesbourne Valley Railway in Wirksworth, Derbyshire.

Operation as a preserved line

On 10 July 2008, the Duke of Kent visited the railway following the 40th anniversary of its reopening.[4][5][6] While at the railway, the Duke travelled on a specially prepared "Royal Train", consisting of tank locomotive 41241, an LMS Class 2MT, pulling a single carriage, The Old Gentleman's Saloon, as featured in The Railway Children, which is a former North Eastern Railway directors Saloon. While visiting, the Duke travelled in the carriage and on the locomotive footplate.

Stations and facilities


Keighley Station sign
  • Mainline connections to Leeds, Bradford, Skipton, Carlisle, Lancaster, Morecambe and London King's Cross
  • Railway shop and buffet
  • Turntable
  • Picnic area
  • Station restored to BR 1950s condition complete with cast-iron platform canopy on Platform 4, as once existed on all of the platforms

Ingrow (West)


  • The smallest standard-gauge railway station in Britain, complete with waiting room, booking office, signal box and level crossing
  • Lit by gas and heated by coal stoves
  • Featured as "Ormston" in the BBC's Born and Bred
Oakworth station sign and vintage advertising boards in 1981



  • Railway shop
  • Motive Power & Civil Engineering Departments situated here (Not open to the public, although guided tours are run on peak days)
  • Picnic area and engine shed viewing area
  • Access to Haworth village and the Brontë Parsonage
  • Gas lit platform
  • An example of a 1950s country station
The platform, Oxenhope railway station, terminus of the KWVR, 2006)


  • Terminus of the branch (Located at around 660 feet above sea level)
  • New Heritage Lottery Fund-supported exhibition shed; contains locomotives and carriages not currently in use and explains their history and that of the line as a whole
  • Carriage & Wagon Maintenance department (Not open to the public)
  • Buffet (converted from BR Mk1 RMB No. 1824) and railway shop.
  • Car parking
  • Bus connections to Hebden Bridge
  • Gas-lit platform, car park and waiting room

Commuter use

On weekends - in particular Saturday mornings, local residents who live in Oxenhope, Haworth, Oakworth and Ingrow catch the early morning diesel service to Keighley, returning later on steam hauled services. During the weekday outside of the summer months, locals instead use the local bus services.

As a privately owned heritage railway, the line does not specifically serve commuters; however, a study by Ove Arup & Partners funded by Metro looked at the feasibility of a daily commuter service between Oxenhope and Keighley in 2009.[7] After the first stage of the study was released, Metro stated concerns about a lack of funding and available rolling stock, meaning that services are unlikely to run in the short to medium term.[8]

Another study recently undertaken on behalf of the Worth Valley Joint Transport Committee has found that running up to four commuter trains each way in the morning and evening is feasible.[9]

Rolling stock

KWVR has a large collection of both steam and diesel locomotives, as well as supporting carriages and other rolling stock. The railway has amassed a large collection of Vintage Carriages over the years. Some are used to carry passengers on specially selected open days.

The railway owns three rail mounted cranes: a 10T Grafton steam P-Way crane, a 15T Taylor Hubbard diesel P-Way Crane and an ex LMS 45T steam breakdown crane. In addition, the affiliated Bahamas Locomotive Society owns a steam breakdown crane, based at Ingrow. Currently the 15T Taylor Hubbard crane and the 10T Grafton steam P-Way crane are in traffic, the latter now in apple green. Furthermore, there are a variety of wagons used by the civil engineering department, largely at either Oakworth or Ingrow West.

Use in film, media and television

The line and its stations has been used in numerous period film and television productions including the film The Railway Children.[10]

In the 1960s (shortly before the preserved line re-opened), a ITV advertisement on chocolate cookie biscuits, featuring Ronnie Corbett, was filmed along the line and at Mytholmes Tunnel (between Oakworth and Haworth). A steam train carries (at the front end) out of the tunnel a shocked Corbett holding onto the handrail of the engine. The locomotive used was Pug 51218.[11]

In 1970 the line was featured in the British Drama Film The Railway Children. The line was one of only a few heritage railways in the UK and was the only one at the time which had a tunnel (this was one of the most important locations needed for the film). The tunnel used is a lot shorter in reality than it appears in the film, for which a temporary extension to the tunnel was made using canvas covers. Locomotives that were chosen for the film included a Hudswell Clarke 0-6-0T no 31 Hamburg, GWR 5700 0-6-0PT no 5775, Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway 0-6-0 no 957 & GNR N2 0-6-2T no 1744. Railway locations used in the film included Mytholmes Tunnel near Haworth, the location for the paper chase scene was also shot at Mytholmes, as well as the one in which the children wave the girls' petticoats in the air to warn the train about a landslide. The landslide sequence itself was filmed in a cutting on the Oakworth side of Mytholmes Tunnel and the fields of long grass where the children waved to the trains are situated on the Haworth side of the tunnel.

In 1976, The KWVR and Haworth railway station appeared in the premier episode of a Granada TV sitcom called Yanks Go Home (set in 1942), in which a group of US Army Air Force pilots arrive by train and alight at the station (Haworth) and are stationed in a small Northern town in Lancashire, North-West of England, during the Second World War.

In 1979, an episode of the long-running UK TV sitcom Last of the Summer Wine was filmed partly along the Worth Valley route, in which the three main characters Compo, Foggy and Clegg visit and then to attempt to stop a runaway steam train having pulled the brake on purpose (and then only to drive upwards and downwards). The locomotive used was Pannier 5775 in its London Transport guise as L89.

The railway was used in the filming of Peaky Blinders, a 2013 BBC television drama about Birmingham criminals just after World War I.[12]

In 2014, Keighley station was featured extensively in the feature-film 'Testament of Youth', as were the interiors of some of the railway's vintage coaches.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c d
  4. ^ HRH The Duke of Kent visits Haworth Haworth Village Website, News, 10 July 2008, accessed 10 November 2008
  5. ^ Court Circular, past events, Thursday, 10 July 2008 10 July 2008, accessed 10 November 2008
  6. ^ Full-steam ahead on the royal railway! The Telegraph and Argus, 10 July 2008, accessed 10 November 2008
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^ The Golden Age of Steam Engines, No. 2 – Branching Out (at 27mins 30secs). BBC Four, broadcast 27 October 2013; first broadcast 17 December 2012
  12. ^

External links

  • Keighley and Worth Valley Railway website
  • Ingrow Museum of Rail Travel - Vintage Carriages Trust
  • Ingrow Loco Museum - Bahamas Locomotive Society
  • British Railways in 1960 - Keighley to Oxenhope
  • Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Trust website
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