One of Britain’s longest established heritage railways has safeguarded its future after transforming itself into a company limited by guarantee.
The 4 3/4 mile Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, famous for its starring role in the film The Railway Children, has incorporated its Preservation Society to transform its status so it will be able to access different funding sources, guaranteeing its future.
Society chairman Dr Matthew Stroh said: “The railway was one of the first such societies to be established and at the time there were very few options for corporate structure which fitted with the requirements of the then new organisation.
“Legal developments over recent years have allowed us, with support and guidance from specialist lawyers Lupton Fawcett and financial advisors Grant Thornton, to be able to effect significant changes which open up these possibilities.
“We are all fiercely proud of what has been achieved by the railway’s volunteer workforce to date and it is vital that our hard work is preserved and protected.”
The Line was closed by British Railways in 1962, the preservation society was formed shortly afterwards to buy the Line outright, lease access into Keighley station and operate a regular public service. The society reopened the line in 1968 but the six year closure led to the line’s freight and local passengers finding other means of transport.
However a weekend morning diesel ‘shopper’ service proved viable together with a steam train service from midday, and a daily steam train service throughout the summer and public holiday weeks. Since then the KWVR has developed into one of the country’s premier heritage railways and has continued a tradition of service to local communities.
The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway Preservation Society has about 5,000 members and is operated by a pool of 400 working volunteers, who staff and manage the railway day-in day-out, supported by five full-time administrative and engineering staff.