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 Throughout its working life it worked at various sheds until withdrawn by British Railways in January 1959 and sold to the National Coal Board for use at their Penallta Colliery near Rhymney in South Wales.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.