Back to the railway as children help mark sequel to perennial tale

Katie Thornhill, 10, Summer Metcalfe, 9, Kyle Craven, 9, dressed as the Railway Children on footplate of the original pannier tank used in the film in the engine shed at Oxenhope Station.' Picture Bruce Rollinson

IT is one of the most enduring children’s stories of all time - and soon to be rediscovered by another generation of young people.

Once again Keighley & Worth Valley Railway was abuzz with stories of The Railway Children yesterday, as school pupils helped to mark the release of a sequel to the perennial tale.

Chloe Goodall, 9, from Worth Valley Junior School, reading The Return of the Railway Children with author Lou Kuenzler, a magical sequel to the perennial classic tale of The Railway Children. Chloe is sat on the original pannier tank used in the film in the engine shed at Oxenhope Station. Picture Bruce Rollinson

The railway was as much a star of the 1970s film adaptation as actors Jenny Agutter and Bernard Cribbins, and it helped to inspire author Lou Kuenzler as she worked on a new story, set several decades on from the original.

Ms Kuenzler returned to Oxenhope Railway Station and the railway today to meet children from Worth Valley Primary School, as she celebrated the release of The Return of the Railway Children.

The new book is set against the backdrop of the Second World War, and revisits beloved characters from the original story, by Edith Nesbit, as well as introducing new ones.

The author, who has previously penned by a novel based on the classic tale Black Beauty, told The Yorkshire Post: “When I was thinking about doing the sequel one of the first things I did was to come up and visit the railway and seep in the atmosphere. It helped to bring it all to life, the sounds and the smell of the coal.

“My experiences of steam before then had very much been from film and television - there really is nothing like it.”

Generations of from the Edwardian story, the new book sees the daughter of Phyllis, Edie, return to the Three Chimneys as an evacuee.

“They are still in that house, above the railway, with the railway as much a character as it was in the original,” she said, “And all set against the backdrop of the war, with rationing and planes flying overhead.”

Ms Kuenzler admitted it was “daunting” taking on a sequel to such a firm family favourite, but added: “As soon as I started writing, it felt right.
“The original is about acceptance and friendly and they feel like very modern themes.”

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