The ‘Lanky’ devotee who saved… Southern engines

Worth Valley founding father Richard Greenwood has followed steam for a lifetime, both at the lineside and in the thick of preservation. He tells his remarkable life story to Howard Johnston.

As he strolls quietly through Haworth yard at his beloved Keighley & Worth Valley Railway (KWVR), Richard Greenwood has good reason to be satisfied with his lifetime’s achievements, and those around him.

Enthusiast, photographer, lawyer, engine owner, chairman (not necessarily in that order or importance), the former KWVR operating company chairman has witnessed the railway grow from a single 0-4-0ST and a couple of coaches to a thriving business that attracts 100,000 passengers a year. A significant number of working members kept it running so well that paid staff were not needed for nearly 40 years.

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Although he is a highly regarded father figure in railway preservation, there is far more to the story of the Lancashire & Yorkshire devotee, because he is just as well known for rescuing Southern engines.

Richard Greenwood’s engine City of Wells earned the name ‘The Volcano’ during its mainline exploits in the early-1980s because of its dramatic exhaust displays. Here, with a more controlled exhaust, No. 34092 passes Swithland Sidings on October 11 during a visit to the Great Central Railway, looking very much at home on a van train. PETER ZABEK

His love of photography has had its challenges, as it denied him a ride on the KWVR’s June 29, 1968 opening day special. Instead of being on board the train, he was at the lineside holding his cine camera.

It is now more than 75 years since Richard first heard the distinctive sound of engines shunting coal wagons near his native Rochdale. His name will forever be associated with the rescue of L&YR ‘Pug’ 0-4-0ST No. 51218, SR ‘USA’ 0-6-0T No. 30072, Bulleid ‘West Country’ No. 34092 City of Wells, and Manchester Ship Canal Hudswell, Clarke 0-6-0T No. 31 Hamburg, but he has also been involved with the rescue of many other engines.

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Richard Greenwood at the controls of Ivatt ‘2MT’ No. 41241.

These catches include LMS ‘Black Five’ 4-6-0 No. 45212, and repatriated Swedish Railways ‘WD’ 2-8-0 No. 90733 and ‘S160’ 2-8-0 No. 5820 (‘Big Jim’) from Poland. However, there is sadness for others that sadly slipped through the net, including the last Horwich 0-6-0T works shunter – No. 11305… and another ‘Black Five’.

Diesels? Richard’s not really interested.

Richard Stewart Greenwood was born on October 22, 1936, the eldest of three children (he has a brother Stephen and sister Mavis Anne), and spent five years of his life in the village of Wardleworth, an inner suburb of Rochdale, just east of the town centre, with a two-platform station on the L&Y’s Bacup line. At this time, it had a thriving freight yard for handling coal, locally manufactured bricks and cotton products from a mill, but all of it was eventually lost to road competition or factory closures.

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He recalls: “I could hear steam locos across the town, and across the village as far as Rochdale coal yard if the wind was in the right direction.”

Read more and view more images in the January 2019 issue of The RM – on sale now!

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