Actress Jenny Agutter meets Keighley and Worth Valley Railway volunteers who drove engines in the 1970 film on set of The Railway Children sequel

Keighley and Worth Valley Railway volunteers who appeared in the 1970 cinema adaptation of The Railway Children have been manning the footplate again as the sequel is filmed in Yorkshire.

Former child star Jenny Agutter, now 68, meets driver Nicholas Hellewell and his daughter Frances Hartley
Former child star Jenny Agutter, now 68, meets driver Nicholas Hellewell and his daughter Frances Hartley

The Railway Children Return was shot in the Oakworth and Haworth areas for six weeks this May and June and filming has now wrapped.

Railway scenes from the original film used the engines and volunteers of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, and producers returned to the heritage line once again - where they found some familiar faces.

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Long-serving volunteer Nicholas Hellewell, now 71, was a young fireman who was part of the crew operating the trains that were used in the 1970 shoot. Now a driver himself, he has been back on the footplate, this time with his daughter Frances Hartley, the line's first female driver, in scenes for the new production.

Mr Hellewell, who has worked on the railway since the 1960s, was pictured with actress Jenny Agutter who played Bobbie Westbury in the first film as a child star and is reprising her role in the sequel as an adult Bobbie.

Keighley and Worth Valley Railway operations manager Noel Hartley said accommodating the filming around the line's regular timetable had been 'challenging' following a long period of lockdown closures.

Unlike the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, which closed for the filming of two Hollywood productions - instalments in the Mission Impossible and Indiana Jones franchises - this spring, the line remained open to visitors.

"Nicholas has been with us since the late 1960s - he was a fireman in the original film and he has been driving the three locomotives we have been using for the new film. His daughters, Frances and Emma, are both drivers now too. It's a new generation, the new blood that will carry on now he's coming to the end of his railway career.

"Jenny was here for a week, she's got quite a reasonable part. We've all enjoyed doing it - it's great to give the younger volunteers that experience.

"It was a challenging six weeks, as the production took over the whole place for the railway sequences and scenes at Oakworth Station. It was a big task for us, involving a lot of engines and carriages, and we had to run our own service too, but we got there. We don't run weekday trains in May and we only run Wednesday-Sunday in June; in the end we only had to cancel one leg of a service."

The film, which is set during World War Two, is due for release in 2022. The cast also includes Tom Courtenay and Sheridan Smith.