From the re-opening in June 1968 until 1971 the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway had shown a steady rise in passenger numbers when EMI chose the KWVR as the railway line of the fictitious GNSR immortalised in Edith Nesbit’s book ‘The Railway Children’ and instantly raised the profile of this sleepy West Yorkshire branchline. So successful was the publicity that the film generated, the Society directors of the day had to decide to increase the capacity of the line to cope with the number of passengers wishing to travel on The Railway Children’s railway by building a passing loop, now known as Damems Junction.
Whilst the story of the film and the building of the loop are stories in their own right, the film is also responsible for a humble Great Western Pannier tank, number 5775, being shot to fame. When hauling the Old Gentleman’s saloon, it became affectionately immortalised by many, when famously ‘Bobby’, played by Jenny Agutter, successfully attracted the driver’s attention to a landslip blocking the line with 5775 skidding to a halt as ‘Bobby’ fell to the ground in fear.
Sadly 5775 has not worked on the Railway for some time and is currently on display in Oxenhope Exhibition Shed in its fictitious GNSR livery. However to mark the importance that 5775 played in the history and success of the KWVR, we are delighted to announce that Pannier Tank, no. 7714, a member of the same class of locomotive as 5775, will be joining us for our 50th Anniversary Gala courtesy of our friends at the Severn Valley Railway and the SVR Pannier Tank Fund. 7714 will join us for the later part of our 8 Day Event, 24th June – 1st July.
5775 was built at Swindon by the Great Western Railway in 1929 whereas 7714 was built for the GWR by Kerr Stuart & Co. of Stoke, in 1930 and entered service in Birmingham at the Tyseley shed, now the home of Tyseley Locomotive Works, the same year. Throughout its working life it worked at various sheds until withdrawn by British Railways in January 1959 and sold to the National Coal Board for use at their Penallta Colliery near Rhymney in South Wales.
On withdrawal by the NCB, 7714 was purchased by the SVR and after a lengthy restoration was returned to service in 1992. Since then it has had subsequent overhauls with the latest completed in November 2016.
November was a busy month at Ingrow as one arrival returned a Railway Children favourite in an incoming load and the same low loader took away another one. In a third movement, the Bahamas Locomotive Society (BLS) took another step forward in returning ex-LMS ‘Jubilee’ 5XP 4-6-0 45596 ‘Bahamas’ to working order.
Returning to the Railway from cosmetic restoration and display at the National Railway Museum, was the ex-GWR 0-6-0PT 5775 resplendent in its fictitious Great Northern and Southern Railway livery that it carried in the iconic 1970s film. Once the Santa season it past the locomotive will go back on display in Oxenhope Exhibition Shed.
Ironically passing 5775 on its way in, was North Eastern Railway Clerestory Inspection Saloon, no. 1661 leaving the Railway for specialist repairs to be carried out after its underframe sustained some serious damage whilst away from the KWVR on a previous occasion. (The coach can just be seen in the background as 5775 is unloaded)
Whilst the engine is away being restored at Tyseley Locomotive Works in Birmingham, the BLS team have been busy refurbishing the chassis and wheelsets of ‘Bahamas’ the tender. A little while ago, a complete new tender tank was delivered to Ingrow and last week the Society’s steam crane was fired up and lifted the new tank onto the chassis. The ensemble was then moved inside for work to continue. The intention is that the tender will be transported to Tyesley early in 2017 to join the rest of the locomotive.
Follow the link below for a video update of the work being carried out on GWR Pannier 5775 at the NRM outstation at Shildon. As announced earlier this year, the locomotive is being ‘restored’ to its ‘The Railway Children’ brown livery of the fictitious Great Northern & Southern Railway for display at Shildon until being return the Railway in early 2015.
Following the shuffle of stock between Haworth and Oxenhope reported earlier and the arrival of the boiler of 75078 from Crewe, things look a little different inside Haworth Locomotive Works. And yesterday they changed again as GWR pannier tank 5775 left for a holiday and spruce-up in the North East. Seen in the shed a week ago are 75078 now looking more like a complete locomotive and 78022 whose condition looks as if it could steam immediately but awaits assessment of the work needed to bring it back into steam.
In April it was announced that GWR Pannier tank 5775 was leaving the Railway for a holiday at the NRM outstation at Shildon where it will be cosmetically restored to its Railway Children’s livery as a locomotive from the fictitious Great Northern and Southern Railway. It will remain there but will return in time for the 45th anniversary of the film’s making.
Having languished at Oxenhope Exhibition shed since withdrawal, GWR 0-6-0PT no. 5775 is to visit Locomotion. the NRM outreach station at Shildon. This will be for a period of ten months during which time it will be ‘cosmetically restored’ (repainted) into the fully lined railway children livery. It is due to leave the Railway mid-May but will return to home in time for the 45th anniversary of the railway children in 2015.
Oxenhope exhibition shed is also going to have a reshuffle. 5775 will be extracted next week, along with BR 2MT 2-6-0 no. 78022 which will move to Haworth. Taking their place at Oxenhope will be BR 4MT 2-6-4T no. 80002 & L&Y 2F 0-6-0 no. 957 both of which will go on display in the shed in their place.
With modern video techniques and the latest locomotives at the head of the train we tend to forget Santa specials of past years. In this wonderful atmospheric black and white archive film by Phil Whitehead, converted to modern format, we see 2-8-0 8F 48431 and 0-6-0 Pannier 5775 get to grips with their train on the climb out of Keighley. Both engines are now retired and await their turn in the restoration queue.
We would love to hear from other enthusiasts who have archive film that we can feature in future months .. they say nostalgia is not what it used to be. It is!