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Do you recognise the station? It was used in the 1970 version of the film The Railway Children. The KWVR persuaded the film-makers to keep the name Oakworth in the film, with dramatic consequences. Money earned from making the film was insignificant compared to the passenger revenue generated after its release.
However, this prosperity brought plenty of short term problems. For example, the KWVR was still a single track branch line and could only operate with one train in service. But Easter 1971 was the busiest ever and a seven coach train had to be used to cater for the traffic, with a spare engine to speed up the run round at Keighley. The only solution was to press ahead with the construction of a passing loop at Damems in time for the Spring Bank Holiday. This enabled the KWVR to operate 2 trains on the line and pass them at half way at Damems Junction, which you will pass through on your journey from Keighley. (Anywhere on the original Midland Railway which had a set of ‘facing points’ was known as a junction, so there is no other line joining the KWVR at this point as you might expect, but it does explain the strange name)
Oakworth station has been a winner many times of the Best Restored Station competition. The only major work undertaken was during the autumn of 1983 when an outbreak of dry rot was discovered in the entrance hall. Woodwork and plaster had to be hacked out and replaced and professional repairs carried out to the roof. Unfortunately the rot had spread through virtually the whole of the original building, which had to have massive repairs as a result. And all this was because rain had got into the building due to a rainwater downspout being missing during the closure period which resulted in dry rot throughout the whole building. It cost thousands to put right. After the remedial attention, the framed portrait of Queen Victoria was securely back in its place over the fireplace which you can still see today.
In the goods yard there is still a five-ton crane and livestock could also be dealt with using the dock which still has track in place. The last animals to be unloaded were ponies for the Disney film ‘The Pit Ponies’ just after the Railway re-opened. A signal box also used to exist at the Keighley end of the station. However with the reduction in train services and the daily pick up of goods this and its associated passing loop were dispensed with early in 1956. You can though still see where the loop was, alongside the present running line.
The level crossing is clearly made for double track to accommodate this loop. If you look at the signal by the level crossing, you will see that it is a ‘bracket’ signal which used to carry two arms, although there is only one there today. This is because the loop was used for passing goods trains or a goods and a passenger train- the absence of a second platform meant that it could not be used for passenger trains other than excursions, if passengers wished to get on or off. Consequently, the loop was signalled for running either way in either direction which, when it was built in late Victorian times was very unusual.
After the signalbox closed, the station continued to be manned for the level crossing using the remaining signals from a small ground frame at the Haworth end of the platform. You will see the crossing keeper operating these signals whenever a train approaches or leaves the station.
The Midland Railway installed the loop because of the increasing traffic on the branch which required additional capacity to accommodate it. The current owners of the KWVR often operate it at its maximum capacity and replacement of the loop would make the present day railway much easier to operate at such times, although, with the loop just along the line at Damems Junction, it is unlikely that this loop will be re-instated.
The KWVR acquired the keys to Oakworth Station in 1965, three years after it had been closed. On opening the station, it was found just as it must have been left. There was even a half full bottle of ink and a large round table in the middle of the office had been tipped over, presumably in disgust.