Historian and Keighley celebrity Ian Dewhirst made a plea for more people to use public transport – especially trains – when he unveiled a locomotive named in his honour.
Mr Dewhirst – affectionately known as Mr Keighley – revealed his name emblazoned on the side of a Northern Rail 158 diesel unit at a ceremony at Keighley railway station today.
A non-driver, the 72-year-old former Keighley reference librarian, directed his appeal especially at people over 60.
“You can travel all over the area for just a few coppers,” he said.
“I know car drivers who have never applied for their pensioner’s pass who then drive where they could go by train and then grumble when there’s nowhere to park. Get on the train and use your pass, it’s a lot easier and most of the time you get there on time.”
The train is decked out in a new livery of images of the town and countryside and of the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway. And inside there is a series of panels featuring locations around Keighley and a potted biography of Mr Dewhirst who was made an MBE in 1999 and has an honorary doctorate from Bradford University.
He said: “I feel very honoured and humble. But I can’t treat it too seriously – it’s just a bit of fun. I can say that I was flabbergasted when I was approached about it.”
The new livery project is jointly financed by Northern Rail, Keighley Town Centre Association and the Bronte Country Partnership with input from Keighley Town Council and Bradford Council.
Susan Mendoza, of the association, said: “We feel proud that this train will take a positive message about Keighley throughout the North of England. It will show how passionate we are about our town.”