“A touch of the Caribbean in Yorkshire”

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Bahamas (c) Ian Dixon

The BAHAMAS steam locomotive which had not hauled a train on the main-line for 25 years until last month – is to be formally commissioned on FRIDAY 29th MARCH at INGROW on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway (KWVR)  by SIR PETER HENDY, CHAIRMAN of NETWORK RAIL.

No. 45596  BAHAMAS , a 135-ton main line engine is one of only a handful of volunteer-owned and operated main line steam locomotives in the UK.. It was the subject of an extensive restoration  undertaken for the Society at Tyseley Locomotive Works in Birmingham funded largely by the National Lottery Heritage Fund which contributed £776k towards the £1m total cost of the work.

The project to overhaul BAHAMAS, which has taken over 5 years,  also included the creation of an innovative educational facility, the LEARNING COACH, which is based at Ingrow and which is increasingly being used by schools and the local community. In addition to the commissioning of No. 45596 the Coach will also be formally opened at the event by Ian Fisher, CEO, Mortons Media, publishers of heritage titles including “Railway Magazine”.

The Commissioning of BAHAMAS will be attended by many senior figures in the Railway and Heritage Movements, civic dignitaries plus donors, supporters and Society Members; some young students will also participate in workshop demonstrations in the Learning Coach.

Sir Peter Hendy, who will commission’ 45596 when it arrives at Ingrow Station at 13.00 hrs hauling a special train for guests said ”I am really looking forward to the launch of ‘Bahamas’ at Ingrow at the end of March; the Bahamas Locomotive Society, generously supported by the National Lottery, have done a wonderful job of the overhaul. The railway industry is an exciting and challenging place to work at the moment – there is a huge amount of change and modernisation going on. But in the midst of all of this, we must still take time to appreciate, preserve and enjoy our UK railway heritage, and thus I am privileged to be able to welcome ‘Bahamas’ back into service”

David Renwick, Head of the National Lottery Heritage fund for Yorkshire and the Humberside said “This 5-year National Lottery supported project to restore 45596 Bahamas may have officially ended but its legacy will live on. we are delighted to see this magnificent engine back on the rails again thanks to such a dedicated and passionate group of volunteers and also witness the launch of the fantastic Learning Coach so that visitors of all ages can experience the wonders of the steam age for themselves.”

Dan Savage, Publishing Director from Mortons Media Limited said: “We have been proud to have played a part in not only helping in some small way towards the restoration of this piece of railway history, but in making it relevant for future generations through its incarnation as the learning coach.  Seeing youngsters be able to interact with the railway, for them to gain the full experience of the sights, sounds and smells, and for us to be able to help provide some of the technology as they unlock more than a century of history through The Railway Magazine’s pages on board the coach, has made this project more than worthwhile for us. It has been a pleasure to have worked so closely with such great people as the Bahamas Locomotive Society.”

Keith Whitmore (Chairman, Bahamas Locomotive Society)  commented “I am sure that National Lottery players will agree that our locomotive is a real winner now since, after 25 years inactivity , Bahamas is back delighting passengers, railway enthusiasts and the general public alike. Our thanks go to the National Lottery Heritage Fund  and to the many thousands of lottery players who have truly backed a winner proving our engine is very much the peoples locomotive”.