Royalty graced two of the country’s most popular tourist attractions – the Bronte Parsonage Museum and the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway – when the Duke of Kent visited Keighley today.
For the five-mile heritage line and the Bronte shrine it marked a milestone in their history – 40 years for the railway and 80 years for the museum.
It was the first time the railway had operated a Royal Train and the Duke was carried in one of the most famous big screen carriages – The Old Gentleman’s Saloon, which starred in the classic 1970
film The Railway Children.
And he also had a go at riding on the footplate of the steam locomotive.
As is traditional when carrying Royalty, the coal used to power the Ivatt Class 2-6-2 engine was painted white.
And to indicate to the signalman that Royalty was aboard, the locomotive displayed a special sequence of lights called The Royal Headlamp Code.
The Royal train steamed out from Keighley after the Duke met Bradford Lord Mayor, Councillor Howard Middleton, and Keighley Town Mayor Amjid Zaman and station master John Wright.
Among the guests it also carried the Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Dr Ingrid Roscoe, and the High Sherriff of the county, Roger Bowers.
The train made its first stop at Ingrow where the Duke visited the Vintage Carriages Museum and the Bahamas Locomotive Society and met the children of Ingrow Children’s Gardening Group who look
after the station gardens.
Next stop was Oakworth made famous in The Railway Children, where the Duke was invited to take to the footplate for the journey to the terminus at Oxenhope.
There he was greeted by acting station master Robin Richards, children from Oxenhope school and chairman of Oxenhope Parish Council, Neal Cameron.
Worth Valley railway chairman Paul Brown, said: “The visit recognises the selfless work of volunteers to transform a worn out, abandoned branch line into one of the world’s leading railways.”
From Oxenhope, the Duke was taken on to Haworth to visit the Bronte shrine at the Parsonage Museum where he was greeted by children at Haworth Primary School.
He was shown some of the major treasures, including items relating to Emily Bronte who is the subject of a major exhibition this season.
They included rare manuscripts of her poetry, on loan from the British Library, and a portrait of the author of Wuthering Heights painted by her brother Branwell and on loan from the National
Acting director of the museum, Andrew McCarthy, said: “It was a rare opportunity for the Duke to see this portrait which has come back to the place where it was originally painted.”
The Duke had been particularly fascinated by the fact that three sisters in one family could have been so tremendously creative, Mr McCarthy added.