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In 1970 the actress won a legion of admirers as Roberta Waterbury, the warm and homely mother in the much-loved classic The Railway Children.

In 1970 the actress won a legion of admirers as Roberta Waterbury, the warm and homely mother in the much-loved classic The Railway Children.

Now some 52 years after the original – and 40 years older – she is back as her original character in the long-awaited sequel.

The original film, based on the 1906 novel of the same name by E Nesbit, is about three children forced to move to Yorkshire, and starred Agutter, 69, alongside Sally Thomsett and Bernard Cribbins.

Yesterday, The Railway Children Return received its world premiere at Keighley Picture House attended by the all-star cast of 2022 including Sheridan Smith, who plays Bobbie’s daughter Annie Waterbury, and veteran Tom Courtenay.

It is set in 1944 and is based around the backdrop of child evacuees from inner cities to the countryside during the Second World War.

Agutter – who found a new army of fans as Sister Julienne in Call the Midwife – reprises her role as Bobbie. She is still living in Oakworth and now has a family of her own.

Agutter, 69, said taking the film into a different time is something author Nesbit would have liked, adding: “It’s very important that it’s 1944 and that we’re looking at people who have been through a first world war, a second world war and how that’s changed society.

“Their adventures…children are still children, and they should continue to have adventures and they should continue to instruct us about who we are in the world because they see very clearly and it’s lovely to see the world through their eyes isn’t it?”

In one tear-jerking scene Annie fondly asks her mother: “Do you remember your arrival here?” She replies: “Like it was yesterday.”

A steam train can then be heard puffing and whistling as it pulls into the station and a conductor – played by Game of Thrones star John Bradley – announces its arrival at Oakworth Station. Scenes from both the original and sequel were shot on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.

Three evacuees – Lily (Beau Gadsdon), Pattie (Eden Hamilton) and Ted (Zac Cudby) Watts – are sent to the Yorkshire village from Salford by their mother.

Bobbie, Annie and Bobbie’s grandson Thomas Waterbury (Austin Haynes) greet the youngsters and help them settle into their new life in the countryside.

Yesterday, 13-year-old actor Austin, who has appeared alongside cinematic greats Jim Broadbent and Dame Helen Mirren, and whose screen credits include Gentleman Jack and All Creatures Great and Small, was in A-list company at the premiere.

Austin said: “They’re all legends. So cool to be around,. had some nice scenes with Tom. Jenny told me about making the original film. Sheridan (Thomas’s mother) was brilliant – there are some scenes where she had to cry and she just did it. I learn a lot from watching actors like that at work.

“I loved running up and down the railway track – it was surreal, especially as it was the exact same place that Jenny had filmed in 50 years before. It was like being transported back in time.”

* The Railway Children Return is released in UK cinemas on Friday, July 15.