Posted: 5/2/2010


    It's one of the most beloved stories ever in Britain, and The Railway Children, written in 1905 by Edith Nesbit, and been made into BBC drama on radio and TV a number of times, but the 1970 movie was a world wide sensation, and the 40th Anniversary was this week.

    It was made in the heart of Bronte Country at Oakworth Station which was restored to its Edwardian glory, on the 5 mile historic Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, which runs steam trains at weekends from Keighley station to Oxenhope via Ingrow, Damems, Oakworth and Haworth.

   The story is about a Foreign Office man, Mr. Waterbury, who is imprisoned after being falsely accused of spying and selling state secrets to the Russians. His wife and 3 young children, Roberta(Bobbie), Peter and Phyllis go to live in a cottage,Three Chimneys, in a small village in Yorkshire and the children spend time watching trains go by and befriending Mr. Albert Perks the porter.

     A strange man alights off a train and collapses on the platform and cannot communicate, and the family take care of the mystery man, who is a Russian escaping from Siberia, trying to locate his lost family. The Old Gentleman who regularly rides the 9.15 am train in the saloon car eventually comes to the aid of the family after the children pass him a note, and the father is eventually released and reunited.

    I got the bus from Keighley to Oakworth Station and mingled with the actors as they replay some of the scenes as various steam trains arrive with lovingly restored carriages including a dining car. There is afternoon tea and special sandwiches served at a tent, the Silsden brass band plays and I chat with the Mayor of Keighley, Margaret Ward and her consort and grandchildren, who explains her beautiful add historic chain of office, and the attractions of her town. Keighley is on the main line and is a great tourist centre.

    Above the station on the hillsides there are flocks of sheep being herded by a gentle sheepdog, and some horses grazing. Across from the station a couple of guys have found a wasp's nest in their roof and are trying to deal with it.  It's all a great tourist attraction and the line, which opened in 1867 by mill owners was closed in 1962. Six years later it was opened by a Trust and volunteers and carries 110,000 passengers a year during the summer months. Beer lovers like it because the dining car serves real ale. From Haworth station its a short walk to yhe old village and The Bronte Parsonage Museum and Wuthering Heights.