It is almost 3½ years since Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway, Barton Wright ‘Ironclad’ 0-6-0 No. 957 (BR 52044), last steamed and it will not have gone unnoticed that we are fast approaching the 50th anniversary of the making of the iconic film ‘The Railway Children’, a film in which No. 957 achieved immortality as ‘The Green Dragon’.
The locomotive is now owned by the ‘Bowers 957 Trust’ and agreement has been reached to start the restoration process. A preliminary investigation of the locomotive’s condition was encouraging but until some dismantling had been done it was not possible to predict the full extent (and therefore cost) of the work required. During its recent period of display at Oxenhope, a considerable amount of preventive maintenance took place and certain fittings removed and placed in safe storage. It is anticipated that 957 will move to Haworth in early July for dismantling to begin in earnest.
Currently there are no major obstacles envisaged to the restoration of 957 to active service, although, where steam locomotives are concerned, one never knows what actually lies beneath what is visible to the eye.
More details of the project will appear in due course in the Society’s quarterly magazine, Push & Pull.
In a year of 50th anniversaries which have so far included the arrival of the first rolling stock and founding of the Vintage Carriages Trust, one 50th anniversary nearly passed un-noticed. On the 5th June 1965, with stock having arrived only a few months earlier, the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway operated its first ever passenger train, although it was a far cry from the 6 coach Keighley – Oxenhope trains that regularly make the journey up and down the Valley today. It would be another 3 years before regular passenger trains returned to the Valley.
Formed of Lancashire & Yorkshire 0-4-0ST 51218 and the Southern Railway ‘Matchboard’ coach no. 3554, the Railway offered rides out of Haworth Yard, under Bridge 26 and a short distance along Haworth loop in conditions that today would give any self respecting Safety Officer a heart attack. A few photographs survive of the day courtesy of Chris Bray and F. W. Smith and show not only enthusiastic men but wives and girl friends with children of all sizes queuing for a ride and swarming all over the tracks of Haworth Yard.
A small but insignificant step for which we are eternally grateful 50 years on.
Queue for the train in Haworth Yard
Waiting in Haworth Yard
Steaming out of Haworth Yard …
… and return
Passing under Bridge 26
957 (52044), 1247 and 4744 stand silent awaiting their turn on another day.
On the same day photographer Martin S. Welch was in the Highlands of Scotland and by chance took this photograph of BR Class 20 D8031 at Kittybrewster Shed, Aberdeen complete with tablet catcher and snowplough. It would be many years before this locomotive was withdrawn and avoided the cutters torch by being preserved on the KWVR; today operational with its later numbering of 20 031.
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.