The Swanage Railway Museum is based at Corfe Castle Station. It collects and cares for objects, pictures and documents relating to the railway and assists in the fulfilment of the objects of the Swanage Railway Trust:
- To preserve and restore for the public benefit items of historical, architectural, engineering or scientific value in connection with railways, and;
- To advance the education of the public in the history and development of railway transportation.
Our collections focus on railways in the south of England with a particular interest in the Swanage branch line.
Items in the museum collection are on display in the Goods Shed, which is open on all days that trains are running from 10am-4:30pm. The displays include photographs, equipment and signage as well as uniforms and personal effects of people who worked on the railways in the southern region. The Goods Shed also houses Secundus, the last surviving locomotive used on the Pike Brothers tramways serving the clay industry. It is on loan to the Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum, but currently housed at Corfe. Please see www.pmmmg.org for more details.
The Exhibition Coach and Cinema was established by David Haysom and originally sited at Swanage before being moved to Corfe Castle. It now stands in the siding beside the Goods Shed, alongside the historic cattle dock, where livestock used to be penned before loading. The coach had seen a lot of wear and tear, so extensive external restoration of the coach was started in 2010. The Exhibition Coach now contains a re-vamped display dedicated to the story of the rebuilding of the railway by the volunteers. The Cinema, after being closed for some time, was renovated in 2012-13 and fitted out with new visual and audio equipment sponsored by Dacombe and Renaut of Wimborne.
The Book Wagon, sited in the siding next to the Exhibition and Cinema Coach sells a wide range of railway and tramway related second hand books and magazines. All of the books have been donated with proceeds supporting the Museum. The wagon is open during events or by appointment.
From the Station platform you can also go back in time to the 1950s in the Station Master’s Sitting Room, please just ask the station Porters.
All parts of the museum are free to visit, but we are always happy to receive your donations which go directly towards supporting and developing the Museum, its collections and displays, as well as exhibitions around the Railway.
Behind the Scenes
The Museum has a work space in Corfe Castle Station house where volunteers work on organising, caring for and documenting the collection. We also have an archive room where items not on display are kept in controlled conditions. The archive room has been in existence for about 18 months and enables us to be organised and professional in the many behind the scenes jobs needed to run the museum. It is important to have this ‘indoor’ space to care for the wide range of objects that comprise the collection, from carriage lamps to uniforms, plans and maps to leaflets and photographs.
Next to the museum rooms, the Station also houses the Montagu Jones Research Library. The Library contains a wide range of railway books which are available for research. The Library catalogue is now accessible online at www.srlibrary.co.uk You need to make an appointment, but please get in touch if you would like to consult our collection.
The Museum is run by a group of volunteers, with the advice of the Museums and Education Manager of the Swanage Railway Trust. The team undertake all sorts of jobs, from renovating facilities, developing displays, caring for objects, research into objects and documenting them, to dealing with queries from the public, sorting books and magazines donated to the book wagon and deciding how to develop the collections.
We are always happy to welcome new volunteers to the group. You don’t need to have any experience in working in a museum, but all sorts of skills are useful as the jobs are so varied. If you are interested in getting involved, please contact us.
Getting in touch
If you are interested in research into our collections or donating object to the collection, please get in touch with us at the following address:
Swanage Railway Museum
Corfe Castle Station
Museums and Education Manager: Dr Clare Randall