Friday, 4 September 2015

Oakworth

Our day-in-hand was to be used to visit Screwfix in Keighley, to see whether they had a screw for one that is missing from the lock-cover on Erin Mae's back door. They didn't, though Thomas & friends spent a lot of time and energy finding out. Nor did they have a magnetic door catch small enough for one of her cupboards. They did, however, have a bag of ear-plugs to assist my best beloved in her nocturnal slumbers (no comments, please, on what sonorific intrusion to her soporific state is implied here).

So with the Srewfix business terminated, it was bus-pass time again – to pay a visit to Oakworth. Anyone who's seen The Railway Children will have their own mental image of Oakworth, but it's likely to be erroneous. It surely must be a "village", but it's quite a size and its terraced houses sprawl over a large area of hillside, like Haworth (of Brontë fame) next door. The railway station is at the bottom of the hill, down which we walked with some trepidation, thinking of the return journey. But when we got there, a surprise awaited.


The level crossing gates were closed (or open, depending on what you're driving), and the train was coming through.


It actually stopped on the track between the gates, while the fireman shovelled more coal into the firebox. Whether they'd run out of steam at that moment, we've no idea.


Perhaps the driver was just playing peek-a-boo with the road traffic.


The station is appropriately preserved with all sorts of adverts for products mostly long disused.


Numerous period artefacts which may or may not still be functional are found on the platform.


It was apparently one of the terms of the contract with the producer that the station's own name be used in the film – and that's been a source of tourist revenue ever since.


Walking back up the hill was not quite as bad as feared (I still don't know why, on whatever journey, it seems to me shorter returning than going). We ate our lunch in Holden Park, a quite amazing resource for Oakworth.


It's on several levels. A war memorial gives way to a bowling green, surrounded by walkways through extraordinary rock formations.


Some areas off to the side are given over to conventional play areas.


But it's the paths, some low, some high that surely excite a child's imagination most.


They lead upwards through wooded sections, to the broad expanse at the top where we had our picnic. The whole thing creates grottoes and caves – masses of places for an extended game of hide-and-seek.


It's a truly extraordinary place, which owes its existence to the Holden family and their generosity. Sir Isaac Holden was a 19th century industrialist who invented the "Lucifer" match, but refused to patent it because he'd done so almost by accident. He made his money mostly from wool-related activities. The stories about him suggest he'd be absolutely delighted with the use to which the grounds he created are now being used.

Oakworth wasn't quite what we were expecting. But it seems that's pretty normal for the places that Erin Mae takes us.

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