|A train on the Swanage Railway viewed from Corfe Castle|
|Built by||Swanage Railway Company|
|Original gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|Length||6 miles (9.7 km)|
|Preserved gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
|1979||Line Re-opened at/alongside King George's playing fields|
|1980||Steam returns to the Swanage Line, officially|
|1982||Swanage station Re-opens officially|
|1984||Herston Halt opens to the public|
|1988||Swanage Line extends to Harman's Cross|
|1989||Harman's Cross opened officially|
|1993||Corfe Castle extension completed (though station re-opens about 2 years later)|
|1995||Nordon Park & Ride opens (so does Corfe Castle but officially)|
|2002||Swanage Line re-connects at Nordon opposite sides to the National Network|
|2009||Swanage Line sees first public through passenger service between London Victoria via Wareham and Swanage since closure|
The Swanage Railway is a 6-mile (9.7 km) long heritage railway in the Purbeck district of Dorset, England. The railway line follows the route of the old Purbeck branch line from Norden, via Corfe Castle, Harman's Cross and Herston Halt to Swanage.
The line was re−connected to the mainline at Wareham, Dorset, along a stretch of the branch line that had previously only remained open to freight traffic until 2005. In 2013 trains operate on the Swanage Railway between Swanage and Norden Park & Ride every weekend and Bank Holiday from mid-February to the end of the year, and every day of the week from Easter to the end of October. Santa Special services operate in December.
The link between the Swanage Railway and the main line at Wareham has been used for materials deliveries, special excursions, locomotive and stock movements only— work is continuing to provide the infrastructure necessary to enable regular services via Wareham to be implemented.
In April 2009 the line reopened to its first through traffic from London with occasional special services.
After several false starts, the branch was built by the locally promoted Swanage Railway Company. It was opened in 1885 and operated from the start by the London and South Western Railway Company. Subsequently the line became part of the Southern Railway and latterly the Southern Region of British Railways. In the 1950s the Branchline Committee identified this branch line as a possible candidate for closure. At the time such a plan was unrealistic for a branch line which carried so much seasonal holiday traffic. The closure proposal met with a great deal of opposition and was shelved. The line was not mentioned in Beeching's 1963 report 'The Reshaping of British Railways'.
In the mid-1960s a programme of third rail electrification took place on the main line running from Waterloo, Basingstoke, Southampton to Bournemouth in preparation for withdrawal of steam. As the third rail did not, then, extend west of Branksome the Swanage line was operated until its closure using a British Rail Class 205 DEMU.
In May 1967 the Network for Development Plans were issued by Barbara Castle MP, the then Labour Minister of Transport following a study. Where lines were at the remunerative end of the scale, such as the main trunk routes and some secondary lines, these would be developed. Lines that failed to meet the financial criterion, but served a social need were to be retained and subsidised under the 1968 Transport Act. The problem would be for lines that were not in these categories which could be candidates for closure as they did not form part of the basic railway network. The Swanage line was one of these. It was a line that may well have carried considerable traffic, and perhaps made a small profit, but it did not meet the Government's social, economic and commercial criteria for retention.
It was in the later part of 1967 that British Railways issued a notice that the Swanage line was to be closed by September 1968. However, due in part to the level of opposition to the closure, and also by the fact that British Railways had underestimated the logistical problems in providing a replacement bus service during the summer months owing to higher traffic levels, the line remained open. Opposition from the various pressure groups was so vociferous that a public enquiry was called for. Subsequently a Department of the Environment Inspector, after hearing the evidence that a replacement bus service would be unable to handle the traffic in the summer months, ruled that the line should remain open. His decision was later overturned by the Secretary of State for the Environment. Up to this time it is possible that the line may have been in receipt of a subsidy under the terms of the 1968 Transport Act whilst all the issues concerning the pending closure of the line were discussed. The line was closed in January 1972.
In May 1972, the Swanage Railway Society was formed with the objective of restoring an all-the-year-round community railway service linking to the main line at Wareham which would be 'subsidised' by the operation of steam-hauled heritage trains during the holidays.
However BR responded by hiring contractors to lift the track between Swanage and Furzebrook sidings during the summer of 1972. Protests were orchestrated by the Society and an agreement between the Society and BR followed, leading to all the ballast being left in situ plus an extra half a mile of track at Furzebrook. The track from Furzebrook to the main line junction at Worgret remained in use for ball clay traffic, later also serving the oilfield at Wytch Farm. BR had intended to sell the Swanage station site to a property developer, but after the intervention of Evelyn King, the MP for South Dorset, at the Society's request, offered it to Swanage Town Council (STC).
At first, neither the Dorset County Council (DCC), nor the STC backed the Society's plans to restore the railway. DCC planned to build a by-pass for Corfe Castle on the railway land, while STC started to demolish Swanage station. To break the impasse, the Railway Society formed two daughter organisations: the Swanage and Wareham Railway Group, composed of local residents prepared to lobby the local authorities; and the Southern Steam Group, to collect historic railway rolling stock and establish a museum of steam and railway technology. After many interventions by local residents, in 1975, the STC finally granted the Society limited facilities on the Swanage station site. In 1975 DCC acquired the railway land between the end of the line at Furzebrook and Northbrook Road bridge, Swanage and to "give further consideration" to routes for a Corfe By-pass. The Society piloted a successful application by the Southern Steam Group to the Charity Commissioners for charitable status, and subsequently both the Society and the residents group joined the new Southern Steam Trust.
In 1979 a short line re-opened, the length of King George's playing fields. This was extended first to Herston Halt and then to Harman's Cross in 1988, neither of which had been stations previously. In 1995 the railway reopened from Swanage to Corfe Castle, and onwards to Norden Park and Ride, another post BR station. The opening of Corfe Castle was delayed until Norden was ready as DCC had concerns about the effects of traffic on Corfe's narrow main street (the A351 road between Wareham and Swanage). On 3 January 2002 the track was temporarily joined with the Furzebrook freight line at Motala and the Purbeck branch line was once again complete, thirty years to the day after it was closed.
Motala and Worgret Junction
On 8 September 2002, a brand new Virgin Trains Class 220 "Voyager" diesel multiple unit, no. 220018, became the first mainline train to use the new temporary track, when it made a special journey to Swanage where it was named Dorset Voyager. On 10 May 2007 the permanent connection with Network Rail was used for the first time, allowing four ex-BR diesel locomotives running from Eastleigh Works to participate in the diesel gala and beer festival. They were later accompanied by a preserved four-carriage electric 4VEP British Rail Class 423 unit provided by South West Trains, the first such working since the summer of 1972.
The first public passenger service between Wareham and Swanage since 1972 was "The Purbeck Pioneer", a 12-coach diesel-hauled railtour from London Victoria on 1 April 2009, with a repeat service on 2 April 2009. The first public passenger carrying steam service since 1967 was "The Dorset Coast Express" from London Victoria on Saturday 2 May 2009, which was hauled by a Southern Railway Battle of Britain class Bulleid Pacific locomotive number 34067 Tangmere. The first Swanage to Wareham steam service since 1967 was "The Royal Wessex" on Monday 4 May 2009, hauled by 34067 Tangmere.
Trains operate between Swanage and Norden Park & Ride every weekend and Bank Holiday from mid-February to the end of the year, and every day of the week from Easter to the end of October. Each year during December the railway runs Santa Special services as a seasonal attraction.
As well as the main Society, and number of other groups are based at the railway. The Southern Catering Project Group has a number of railway wagons stored on the railway.
The railway works at Herston, on the outskirts of Swanage, are not physically connected to the running line. Movements of locomotives for overhaul are carried out by road transporter as the Swanage Railway has been unable to reach agreement with local landowners to build a branch connection into Herston Works.
Aims of the Society
- The restoration of the rail link between Swanage and Wareham and the re-establishment of a daily service to connect with main line trains. Recreating 11 miles between Wareham and Swanage, by Spring 2015.
- The creation of a comprehensive historical record of steam railways and steam technology in Southern England.
- 2005 – A tank locomotive dressed as Thomas the Tank Engine during one of the railway's Day out with Thomas events derailed at Norden while running around its train and suffered minor damages. Later on in the week, the same engine lost its chimney on its way to the Flour Mill Engine Workshops.
- 18 June 2007 – a steam train collided with a coach at Quarr Crossing, near Harman's Cross. The coach driver was believed to be the only person on board the coach, and was seriously injured.
Norden – Wareham restoration
There are no regular timetabled trains between Swanage and Wareham, as the intensive rail service from Swanage operates only as far as Norden. The Society continues to work with Network Rail and the local authorities to identify suitable rolling stock and the infrastructure needed to enable regular services to be implemented in the future. In July 2010, DCC and Purbeck District councils voted to allocate up to £3 million over three years, to part-fund re-signalling work by Network Rail at Worgret Junction, which connects the Swanage branch to NR's main line near Wareham. Once completed, the upgrade will enable scheduled train services to operate between Wareham, Corfe Castle and Swanage.
|Number & Name||Description||Notes||Livery||Image|
|No. 27 Norman
|Austerity 0-6-0ST||Operational. Built in 1943. Norman is in regular service on the Embsay & Bolton Abbey Steam Railway. Expected to stay there for some years to come.||BR unlined black with early crest.|
|No. 6695||GWR 0-6-2T 5600 Class||Operational. Built in 1928.||BR lined green with late crest.|
|No. 30053||LSWR 0-4-4T Class M7||Operational. Built in 1905.||BR lined black with late crest.|
|No. 34010 Sidmouth||SR 4-6-2 "West Country" Class||Built in 1945. The boiler is stored at Bridgnorth on the Severn Valley Railway.||N/A|
|No. 34028 Eddystone||SR 4-6-2 "West Country" Class||Operational. Built in 1946. Boiler ticket expires late 2013.||BR lined green with late crest|
|No. 34053 Sir Keith Park||"Battle of Britain" Class 4-6-2||Operational. Built in 1947. At the Severn Valley Railway due to lack of space at Swanage. Will remain there for some years to come.||BR lined green with late crest|
|No. 34070 Manston||SR 4-6-2 "Battle of Britain" Class||Operational. Built in 1947.||BR lined green with late crest|
|No. 34072 257 Squadron||SR 4-6-2 "Battle of Britain" Class||Overhaul underway following the return to service of Sir Keith Park. New tender to be constructed. Built in 1948.||BR lined green|
|No. 80104||BR 2-6-4T Class 4MT||Operational. Built in 1955. Boiler ticket expires in 2016||BR lined black with late crest.|
|Number & Name||Description||Notes||Livery||Image|
|No. 08436 (D3551)||BR 0-6-0 Class 08||Operational, Built 1958||Black|
|No. D3591 (08476)||BR 0-6-0 Class 08||Operational, Built 1958||BR Green|
|No. D6515 (33012)||BR Bo-Bo Class 33 "Crompton"||Mainline certified but under repair at Eastleigh Works, Built 1960||BR Green|
|No. 33111 "Hot Dog"||BR Bo-Bo Class 33 "Crompton"||Operational, Built in 1960||BR Blue|
|Number & Name||Description||Notes||Livery||Image|
|Unit 51933+50654||BR Class 108||Operational||Malachite Green|
|Unit 51346+51388||BR Class 117||Stored awaiting repairs, trailer car 59516 recently returned to Swanage after refurbishment.||BR Green, front whiskers and lining|
|Unit 55028||BR Class 121||Operational||BR Green|
- Railways of Dorset J.H.Lucking Railway Correspondence and Travel Society 1968 (No ISBN)
- The Great Railway Conspiracy D.Henshaw Leading Edge 1994 ISBN 0-948135-30-1
- Beeching Champion of the Railway? R.Hardy Ian Allen 1989 ISBN 0-7110-1855-3
- The Railways of Purbeck R.W. Kidner The Oakwood Press 1973 (reprinted 1979, reprinted & enlarged 1988) ISBN 0-85361-372-9
- The Swanage Branch Then and Now Andrew P.M. Wright Ian Allan 1992 ISBN 0-7110-2046-9 (Amazon)
- Branch Line to Swanage revised edition to 1992 Vic Mitchell and Keith Smith Middleton Press 1992 ISBN 0-906520-33-9
- "Passenger steam train runs again". BBC News. 2 May 2009. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
- Swanage Railway News Gallery - Page 159
- Swanage Railway News Gallery - Page 369
- The Purbeck Pioneer - Swanage Railway April 2009 on YouTube
- Swanage Railway News - First steam service since 1967 arrives at Swanage
- Swanage Railway News - First steam service since 1967 runs from Swanage to London
- "One hurt in level-crossing crash". BBC News. 18 June 2007. Retrieved 24 May 2010.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Swanage Railway.|
- Swanage Railway website
- Swanage Railway Trust website
- Unofficial Swanage Railway website, with photographs mainly taken by working volunteers
- HeritageRail.co.uk - Swanage Railway photographs
- Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum for Purbecks Narrow Gauge Railways