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Keighley & Worth Valley Railway see boom in visitor numbers
9:57am Thursday 6th January 2011 in Ingrow
A successful play in London has led to a boom in visitor numbers for a well-known heritage railway in the district.
The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway has seen a surge in passengers – and is anticipating a further increase – following the six-month run of The Railway Children.
The critically-acclaimed stage production at London Waterloo’s redundant Eurostar station, which came to an end on Tuesday, was supported by Welcome To Yorkshire and attracted an audience of over 165,000.
Meanwhile, passenger numbers on the five-mile line from Keighley to Oxenhope surged by seven per cent between April and October, 2010 – a year that was also the railway’s 40th anniversary.
Bosses of the line credit the bonanza on the festivities throughout the year and on the success of The Railway Children play.
The production featured the famous Old Gentleman’s saloon, which was in the original film and transported to London to star in the play.
During the show, adapted from Edith Nesbit’s novel, the carriage was hauled into the theatre by a steam engine emerging from a cloud of smoke.
The K&WVR has been linked with The Railway Children since the classic 1970 film, starring Jenny Agutter as Roberta and Bernard Cribbins as Mr Perks, was shot on the line.
K&WVR board member David Petyt said: “I am in no doubt the increase was a result – in part – of The Railway Children’s profile in London and the work Welcome To Yorkshire has done promoting the performance.
“However I think we will see the full impact of the show’s run in this year’s visitor and passenger numbers.”
K&WVR’s Jim Shipley said: “There are a number of reasons for the increase. We had the 40th anniversary celebrations in May which sparked a lot of interest, and we changed the timetable to run an open topped bus from Haworth station to the village.”
The Old Gentleman’s carriage is on its way back to Haworth.
It is hoped it will feature in the winter steam gala, due to take place in February.
The railway’s sister museum, the Ingrow Museum of Rail Travel at Ingrow, Keighley, has also seen a 19.5 per cent increase in visitors.
Trevor England, chairman of the Vintage Carriages Trust, said the increase followed improvements to the reception area and its displays.