The Class 144 DMU was designed as a lowcost solution to the need to replace some of the original first generation diesel multiple units, dating from the 1950s. It was designed and built by British Rail and Walter Alexander in 1985 and introduced to passenger service in 1986. The Class 144 was delivered new to Leeds Neville Hill depot, and soon took over operations on the Airedale Line between Leeds/Bradford and Skipton and was the mainstay of the local services through Keighley until electrification in the late 1990s.

After electrification they continued to be regular visitors through Keighley, mainly operating the Leeds – Skipton – Lancaster service, something they could still be seen regularly operating until December 2019. Class 144 units have spent their entire working lives operating local services throughout West Yorkshire and can often be cited for re-invigorating declining local services and supporting the re-opening of many local stations after they were introduced.

Their place on the KWVR

Spokesman for the KWVR, Tim Moody, said “We believe that the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway is an ideal home for a Class 144. We appreciate that our wide variety of steam locomotives hauling period carriages will continue to be the main attraction for many visitors, but we also recognise that preservation and history does not standstill or stop at a set point in time. What is considered modern and maybe unloved today is tomorrow’s history and heritage.”

“With only 23 Class 144s ever being built, and having worked in West Yorkshire their entire lives, they are an important part of the story of rail travel in our local area and we believe that with suitable interpretation it will become an interesting and valuable asset which visitors, young and old can continue to ride on and experience, now and in the future. The Class 144 will further the objectives of the Society and I believe will attract new visitors in the future, especially younger generations, which is vitally important for working museums such as ours”.