The Swanage Railway Trust wins £75,000 Government Grant to help return Swanage Steam Trains to the Main Line at Wareham


Story by Andrew P.M. Wright, 

Swanage Railway official photographer and press officer.


The historic return of steam trains running from Swanage and Corfe Castle to the main line at Wareham – for the first time since 1966 – is a step closer with dedicated volunteers overhauling a 1920s steam locomotive winning a £75,000 Government grant.

The money from the Department for Transport will pay for main line safety and communication equipment to be installed on Southern Railway 'N' class 'Mogul' steam locomotive No. 31874 and also pay for the upgrade of a rake of five carriages to main line standard.

Members of the Swanage Railway Trust's Moguls Group are half way through a four-year £500,000 project to overhaul the 1925-built locomotive – designed by Richard Maunsell for passenger and freight work – to main line standards.

Withdrawn for scrap by British Railways in 1964, it is hoped that No. 31874 will haul its first passenger train since 1998 during late 2016 or early 2017 – and be ready for main line running to Wareham in late 2017 or early 2018.

Swanage Railway Trust chairman Gavin Johns said: "It's hoped that the return of steam trains between Swanage and Wareham – which is subject to track access agreements with Network Rail – will increase tourism and boost the Isle of Purbeck economy in a sustainable way."

Members of the Swanage Railway Trust's Swanage Moguls Fund won the prize money after pitching their proposal to judges in a 'Dragon's Den'-style event held in London as part of the Department of Transport's Heritage and Community Rail Tourism Innovation Competition.

Announcing the news, a delighted Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “We want to show the best of British to our visitors and heritage and community railways are part of that package.

“I am delighted that the Swanage Railway is one of 17 national winners across Britain. I look forward to seeing the scheme develop, providing another great reason to visit Dorset,” she added.

Gavin Johns explained: "Regular steam trains from Swanage to the main line at Wareham – for the first time since 1966 – will increase the attractiveness of the Swanage Railway and encourage more people to make car-free journeys to the Isle of Purbeck.

"Steam trains to the main line at Wareham will also increase the capacity of Swanage Railway services and make them more robust, provide a service that our customers are seeking and also make for a great day out in the Isle of Purbeck by rail from London.

"I would like to thank Swanage Railway Trustee Nick Coram, our General Manager Matt Green, our carriage and wagon manager James Cox and project development advisor Colin Morgan for their professionalism and hard work in putting together our winning bid – and for making such an effective presentation to the Department of Transport judges in London," he added.

Southern Railway Maunsell-designed sister locomotive, 'U' class No. 31806 is one of the Swanage Railway's stable of operational locomotives and hauls trains between Norden, Corfe Castle, Harman's Cross, Herston and Swanage.

The Southern Railway's 'N' class and 'U' class steam locomotives were nicknamed 'Moguls' because of their 2-6-0 wheel arrangement.

The Department of Transport's £75,000 grant to the Swanage Railway Trust is being matched by the Trust to the tune of £25,000 worth of labour.

No. 31874 was sent to the railway scrapyard in Barry, South Wales, during 1964 to be cut up. Luckily, the locomotive escaped the cutter's torch and was saved for preservation in 1974 – returning to the rails in Hampshire in 1977.

A two-year trial diesel train service linking Swanage and Corfe Castle with the main line at Wareham is due to begin in June, 2017, thanks to a £1.8 million grant from the Government's Coastal Communities Fund in 2014.


To help the Swanage Moguls Fund with its overhaul of Maunsell 'Mogul' No. 31874, visit

Spring Stream Gala - Drummond M7 operates public trains to the new Swanage Railway boundary at the River Frome

A rare Victorian-designed M7 tank steam locomotive has hauled a passenger train to Furzebrook, Creech Bottom, East Holme and down to the River Frome – within sight of Wareham – for the first time in more than 50 years.

The special piece of railway history involving Drummond Locomotive Society-owned No. 30053 took place on Friday, 8 April, 2016, on the first day of the Swanage Railway's Spring Steam Gala.

A veteran of the Swanage branch in the late 1930s and during the 1940s – as well as from late 1963 to May, 1964 – the M7 was built for the London and South Western Railway at Nine Elms in London during 1905.

No. 30053's historic first run started when it departed Swanage station with the 4.30pm to Norden where 1916-built Great Western Railway Tank locomotive No. 4247 was attached to the rear of the train for the four-mile run to the River Frome.

Then, at 5.02pm, the train departed Norden station for the River Frome with No. 30053 hauling its first passenger train between Norden and half-a-mile short of Worgret Junction for the first time since May, 1964, when the last of the M7s – including No. 30053 – were withdrawn from traffic at Bournemouth shed.

After reaching the Frome River bridge No. 4 at 5.15pm – location of the new Network Rail distant signal for Worgret Junction on the London to Weymouth main line west of Wareham – the train stopped for ten minutes to allow passengers to take in the views of the Frome valley as well as Wareham with the bell tower of the Medieval Lady St Mary's church by the town quay.

At 5.25pm, the train departed the Frome River with No. 4247 on the front and M7 No. 30053 on the back – passing over the Norden Gates level crossing at 5.40pm before running into Norden station.

On the footplate of No. 30053 for its historic first run between Norden, Motala, Furzebrook, Creech Bottom, East Holme and the River Frome since May, 1964, was driver Ian McDavid and fireman Alexander Atkins.

A delighted Alexander said: "It was fantastic to go over the new Norden Gates level crossing and on to Furzebrook and down the bank to the River Frome because it was the first time that an M7 has been on that stretch of line since 1964 which is amazing in itself.

"Luckily, we didn't run out of steam or water on the way up to Furzebrook and, in fact, No. 30053 she flew up with the equivalent of around eight coaches on. It was the perfect way to start a new era.

"It was very pleasing to fire the M7 on its first run down to the River Frome, mainly due to the ability of No. 30053 to haul the equivalent of eight coaches up the 1 in 78 gradient – coming back from the River Frome to Furzebrook – unassisted. Moreover, the M7 actually accelerated up the bank. 

"Ian McDavid, my driver, and I were rather chuffed that we managed the climb the two mile gradient from the River Frome to Furzebrook in such fine fashion – full second valve, 25 per cent cut off, injector on and pressure hovering on the red line all the way to the top.

"It was a real thrill to fire No. 30053 on its first passenger train between Norden, Furzebrook and the River Frome since May, 1964 – the Edwardian locomotive is an absolutely marvellous machine," added the former member of the Swanage Railway's Sygnets youth group.

The Swanage Railway's three-day Spring Steam Gala also saw two other firsts take place on the newly completed four-mile extension between Norden Gates level crossing and the River Frome.

It was the first time that a Bulleid Pacific steam locomotive had hauled a timetabled passenger train on that section of line since September, 1966.

And it was also the first time since the early 1960s that a Southern Railway 'U' class locomotive had performed the train-hauling honours between Norden, Furzebrook and the River Frome.

Starting from Swanage, four passenger trains a day during the Spring Steam Gala ran the four miles beyond Norden station, over the newly installed Norden Gates level crossing and on past Motala, Furzebrook, Creech Bottom and East Holme before stopping at the River Frome – within sight of the town of Wareham.

Passengers were not able to board or alight the steam trains running over the four-mile extension beyond Norden station and the trains operating between Norden and the River Frome had a steam locomotive at each end.

Swanage Railway Company director and director for Project Wareham, Mark Woolley, said: "It was a real thrill to see the Drummond Locomotive Society's M7 tank make such a special piece of history and run past locations that the locomotive last visited more than 50 years ago.

"It was very lucky that No. 30053 escaped the cutter's torch in 1964 and was purchased by an American millionaire for his locomotive museum in the United States.

"It was even more remarkable that a group of Swanage Railway volunteers was able to purchase the locomotive from the museum more than 20 years later, return No. 30053 to the Swanage Railway and restore her to full working order.

"The M7 represents some 40 years of Swanage Railway locomotive history, from the 1920s through to the 1960s, and it is the archetypal Purbeck branch line engine.

"Our dedicated teams have worked very hard over the past 18 months restoring and upgrading the three-mile former Network Rail line from Motala through Furzebrook, Creech Bottom and East Holme down to the Frome River.

"Half a mile of new track has been laid, almost 2,000 wooden track sleepers replaced, a quarter-mile long embankment upgraded and six miles of lineside embankments cut back, fences repaired and drains cleared," added Mr Woolley, a dedicated Swanage Railway volunteer since the early 1980s.

General Manager Matt Green said: "I would like to say a very big thank you to everyone on the Swanage Railway who has made the train service to the River Frome, within sight of Wareham, and the Spring Steam Gala possible.

"That includes our permanent way team which has performed miracles on our new three-mile stretch of line between Motala and the River Frome over the past 18 months.

"There has been a lot of preparation as well as a lot of hard work during the Spring Steam Gala to make sure that everything runs smoothly for what is a very historic event.

"It has been a great team effort and there has been a real buzz around the railway about the first passenger trains using our new £500,000 state of the art level crossing at Norden Gates, just west of Norden station, before continuing on for some four miles to the River Frome," added Mr Green.

The guest locomotive for this year's Spring Steam Gala was a powerful hundred-year-old veteran of the Great Western Railway built in Wiltshire during the First World War for a working career hauling heavy coal trains in South Wales.

A few years before its withdrawal by British Railways in 1964 – and with a powerful tractive effort of more than 31,000 lbs – steam locomotive No. 4247 was transferred south to Cornwall where it hauled trains of China Clay from the pits to the port of Fowey.

After spending 20 years languishing in a South Wales scrapyard, the 82-tonne locomotive was rescued and restored to full working order by a dedicated band of railway enthusiasts from the 4247 Preservation Society.

Also appearing during the Spring Steam Gala was the Swanage Railway's stable of four steam ex-main line locomotives dating from 1905 through to 1955.

There was London and South Western Railway M7 tank No. 30053 built in 1905, Southern Railway U-class locomotive No. 31806 built in the late 1920s, Southern Railway Battle of Britain class Bulleid Pacific No. 34070 'Manston' from the mid-1940s and British Railways Standard Class 4 Tank No. 80104 built at Brighton in 1955.

A 2-8-0 wheel arrangement steam locomotive, No. 4247 visited the Swanage Railway from its home on the Bodmin and Wenford Railway in Cornwell where it has been hauling trains on the heritage line for ten years.

Matt Green explained: "The locomotive hauled long 1,000-tonne coal trains from the South Wales mines down to ports for export before hauling the empty wagons back to the coal mines. No. 4247 was a reliable and hard-working stalwart.

"After being rescued from the famous steam locomotive scrapyard at Barry in South Wales, dedicated volunteers spent 20 years of hard work restoring No. 4247 to the gleaming steam locomotive seen and enjoyed today," he added.

The Swanage Railway's Spring Steam Gala also saw the award-winning Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum next to Norden station open as well as the goods shed museum, exhibition and cinema coach at Corfe Castle station.

Swanage Railway train times – and special event details – are available online at or by telephone on 01929 425800.

Maunsell Mogul Fundraising team

The Swanage Railway N Class overhaul team is looking for a Fundraising Co-ordinator and Fund Raising Team Members.

This is the perfect role for someone who wants to get involved with this exciting project, yet keep their hands clean. Your role is just as important as the fitters and volunteers who are putting No.31874 back together and offers of help are urgently required.

Once 31874 is completed, the attentions will turn to U Class no.31625 and, eventually, the overhaul of U class No.31806. The fundraising team will help develop the Swanage Mogul 'Brand' and this will eventually become a rolling fundraising group and overhaul department.

This is a challenging and exciting project and these roles being offered promise to put you right in the centre of the action. You will be given the most up to date information on progress, see where targeted fundraising is required and then work out fundraising initiatives to raise money quickly.

The N Class team want you to think of new and modern ways of fundraising, be that by text or Paypal or other online donations via our website and Facebook and Twitter pages, to sponsorship of components and by corporate sponsorship. The N fundraising team will also need to think about how to make sure we continue to receive the traditional donations from our travelling public and wider membership.

You will work with the fundraising group to come up with ideas and suggestions. We are looking for leaders and followers and if you feel you could contribute please get in touch!

So, are you up for the challenge? We look forward to welcoming you to the N team!

Matt McManus
SRT Director and N Class Project Sponsor

If you are interested, please contact Matt McManus by email:

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Rail Minister rides first train after commissioning of new signalling scheme for main line connection

Rail Minister Claire Perry MP has made history after riding on the first train to be run under a newly commissioned £3.2 million signalling system that will enable a trial passenger train service between Wareham, Corfe Castle and Swanage.

Hosted by the volunteer-led Swanage Railway, the special trip in a two-coach South West Trains Class 158 diesel unit saw the Rail Minister, Purbeck Community Rail Partnership members, stakeholders and guests travel from Wareham to Corfe Castle and return on Thursday, 5 February, 2015.

Swanage Railway Trust Chairman Gavin Johns said:  "The commissioning of the new signalling system is a major milestone in joining Swanage and Corfe Castle to the national railway network which has been our aim since 1972. It will also enable trial train services to take place in 2016 and 2017.

"I would like to thank our dedicated volunteers and our stakeholders who have worked so hard, over several years, to help bring the new signalling scheme to fruition.

"Purbeck District Council and Dorset County Council, the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance and other members of the Purbeck Community Rail Partnership also deserve thanks because it has been a real joint effort.

"It was a privilege to have the Rail Minister on board the first train running under the new signalling system and a pleasure to show her what working together in partnership can achieve for the improvement of the Isle of Purbeck's transport network as well as the local economy," added Mr Johns.

Taking Network Rail and the Swanage Railway four years to design, install and test, the new signalling system between Wareham and Corfe Castle is  based on long-proven technology used for controlling trains on single lines and interfaces with a Network Rail state of the art signalling control centre.

The new system sees Network Rail's signalling control centre at Basingstoke linked to the award-winning Victorian-style signal box at Corfe Castle station.

After Network Rail closed old mechanical signal boxes at Poole, Hamworthy, Wareham and Wool and  re-signalled  the line  with  modern  technology  last year, signallers at Basingstoke now  control  main  line  trains  between  Poole and Wool – including Worgret Junction which is close to the start of the Swanage Railway.

Purbeck Community Rail Partnership Chairman Mike Lovell – who is also a Purbeck district and Dorset county councillor – said: “We were delighted that the Rail Minister was able to travel on the first train to use the new signalling.

“Although further investment is still needed to reinstate a regular service, the completion of the signalling is a huge step towards a trial community service that will enable people from Corfe Castle and Swanage to travel by train to anywhere in the country," he added.

Gavin Johns explained: "The Swanage Railway is very heartened by the support that it engenders locally. We look forward to jointly developing the potential of a main line connected heritage railway with the help of our partners, stakeholders and volunteers."

"The new signalling system between Corfe Castle and Wareham is thought to be unique in the United Kingdom because of its scale and the way it works – being a safety interface between the Swanage Railway and Network Rail.

"It has re-established the traditional style of 'electric key-token' method of working trains that operated between the Corfe Castle and Worgret Junction signal boxes until the Swanage branch line was closed by British Rail in January, 1972," explained Gavin who presented the Rail Minister with a framed photograph of a steam train at Corfe Castle taken by Andrew P.M. Wright.

Driven by South West Trains Bournemouth-based driver Peter Burton - and displaying 'Corfe Castle' as its destination - the historic train carrying the Rail Minister and guests left Wareham at 4.15pm for the trip to Corfe Castle where it arrived at 4.40pm.

Waiting on the platform at Corfe Castle was Bob Richards, the last British Rail signalman at Corfe Castle who signalled the final passenger train from Corfe Castle to Wareham on the night of Saturday, 1 January, 1972.

In Corfe Castle signal box, Bob met up with Swanage Railway volunteer signalman Peter Horne who had the honour of signalling the first train from Wareham to Corfe Castle, using the single line key-token system, in 43 years.

Swanage Railway Trust Chairman Gavin Johns escorted the Rail Minister to the signal box where she was greeted by Peter Horne and where Mike Walshaw, the volunteer who designed the Swanage Railway's part of the signalling scheme and was responsible for its installation, was presented to a delighted Claire Perry.

After a five minute stop, and displaying 'Wareham' as its destination, the unit - No. 158890 based at Salisbury - returned to Wareham where it arrived in the 'up' platform at 5.10pm.

The new Corfe Castle to Wareham signalling system improves the ease and speed of signalling trains between Wareham, Norden Park & Ride, and Corfe Castle.

Using the 'electric key-token' system introduced to the country's railways more than 100 years ago, the new system has been modernised so that a signal box on the main line at Worgret Junction is not required.

With 'electric key-token' instruments provided at Corfe Castle signal box and Wareham station – the latter being used by the drivers of trains from the Swanage Railway – the new signalling system is thought to be unique in the country because of its scale and the way it works.

The new Corfe Castle to Wareham signalling system comprises a four-mile single line 'electric key-token' section that crosses from a heritage railway and on to Network Rail. From Worgret Junction – where the single line from Corfe Castle ends – trains run for one mile on the 'third rail' electrified main line into Wareham station.

Last September , Dorset County Council awarded the Swanage Railway a 99-year lease of the three-mile former Network Rail line from south of Worgret Junction to the then start of the Swanage Railway east of Furzebrook.

The Swanage Railway is currently in the process of upgrading that line for passenger trains between Wareham and Corfe Castle – replacing 1,700 wooden sleepers, clearing embankments of overgrown trees and undergrowth as well as repairing bridges and six miles of lineside fences and drains.

In February, 2013, the Swanage Railway was awarded a £1.47 million grant by the Government's Coastal Communities Fund – followed by a further £390,000 'top-up' award in August, 2014 – to introduce a trial passenger train service between Wareham, Corfe Castle and Swanage. That trial train service is set to start during the first half of 2016 and run on 140 selected days over two years.

It was in 2010 that Dorset county and Purbeck district councils pledged to invest £3.2 million, over three years, to pay for a new signalling system to enable passenger trains between Wareham and Corfe Castle – £2.85 million going to Network Rail and £350,000 to the Swanage Railway for the work.

That investment has come from a transport improvement fund into which property developers pay – the money being collected by Purbeck District Council and spent by Dorset County Council as the transport authority.

The Purbeck Community Rail Partnership is an alliance of Purbeck District Council, Dorset County Council, the Swanage Railway, South West Trains, Network Rail, the Perenco oil company and the Borough of Poole Council.

6th February 2015

Swanage Railway strengthens locomotive fleet with three classic 1920s Southern steam locos

An historic 25-year deal has been signed to strengthen the Swanage Railway's locomotive fleet in a move that will see three classic 1920s Southern engines based on the Dorset heritage line – one of which ran in the Isle of Purbeck back in the 1950s.

The contract with Hampshire locomotive owner John Bunch covers three Southern Railway Richard Maunsell-designed locomotives, with 'U' class No. 31806 set to arrive at Swanage and start work hauling trains on the award-winning relaid Purbeck Line during August of this year.

Built at Brighton and the only surviving rebuild of a River class locomotive, the 'U' class – nick-named a 'U-boat' – has seven years remaining on its boiler certificate and visited the Swanage Railway earlier this year and in September last year.

The other two steam locomotives covered by the deal are complete and await overhaul before they can be used – the only surviving 'N' class, No. 31874 built in 1925, to be returned to traffic first and then 'U' class No. 31625 built in 1929 which will be the second of the two locomotives to be overhauled.

Swanage Railway Company Chairman Peter Sills said: "These three classic 1920s Southern Railway steam locomotives are highly appropriate for the Swanage Railway and will strengthen our existing locomotive fleet and provide an exciting balance of available motive power suiting the power and economy requirements of our developing line.

"No. 31806 used to run down to Corfe Castle and Swanage during the British Railways days of the 1950s and is the quintessential Southern Railway branch line locomotive.

"The three Southern Railway locomotives will give the Swanage Railway a balanced and exciting locomotive fleet – and complement the two 1940s Bullied Pacifics, a 1950s Standard Tank, the Victorian-designed Drummond M7 tank and a Great Western Railway tank locomotive which haul trains on the Purbeck line," he added.

The 'N' class locomotives No. 31874 and the ‘U’ class No. 31625 are set to arrive on the Swanage Railway in late June or early July this year. 

No. 31874 last hauled a train in 1997 and is the only surviving 'N' class locomotive – and also the only steam locomotive built at the Woolwich Arsenal in London to survive.

It is planned to have No. 31874 overhauled and ready for traffic by August, 2015.

No. 31625 last hauled a train in 2001 and is the only 'U' class locomotive with a British Railways modified front end. It is planned to have the locomotive overhauled and ready for traffic by the winter of 2016 or the spring of 2017.

Swanage Railway General Manager Richard Jones explained: "The 'U' and the 'N' locomotives offer a simple and efficient maintenance regime with a power classification, efficiency and economy ideally suited to the Swanage Railway. The boiler and other components on the 'U' and the 'N' are also interchangeable and will enable an efficient restoration," he added.

Swanage Railway Company director and locomotive provision portfolio holder Kevin Potts explained: "The Swanage Railway is committed to continuing to offer steam haulage and, with future expansion north of Norden towards Wareham on the horizon, we will need a core of six suitably powerful steam locomotives to work the service.

"Three locomotives will be required to work the daily diagrams, one in reserve for breakdowns, one undergoing routine running maintenance or boiler washout and one under heavy overhaul. A long hire agreement gives control and flexibility in the sequencing of efficient steam locomotive overhauls," he added

A delighted John Bunch said: "I am very pleased that my three Southern Railway locomotives will be working together in Dorset on an authentic Southern Railway branch line through stunning Purbeck countryside and past the iconic ruins of the Medieval Corfe Castle."

24th June 2014.

Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum wins national interpretation award

The Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum (PMMM) has won the national Heritage Railway Association (HRA) railway interpretation award for 2013.  This award is sponsored by Heritage Railway magazine (Mortons Media).  Please see below the citation from the HRA:

The Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum for the operation and return to steam of a section of the former extensive narrow gauge mineral tramway network on the Isle of Purbeck, and for the creation of a unique museum devoted to the history and technology of Ball Clay mining complete with underground mine tunnel and associated rail tracks and rolling stock, The Isle of Purbeck in South Dorset is well known for the richness of its geology and associated mineral industries, the Mining Museum near Corfe Castle is in sight of the very rocks that form part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage site. The museum is not only a valuable education resource in its own right but a quality visitor attraction adjacent to Norden Park & Ride station which interfaces with the Swanage Railway, a branch over which the extracted clay was shipped out to all parts of the world. The Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum is part of Swanage Railway Trust.

The Swanage Railway Company Chairman and PMMM Group Chairman Peter Sills said: “This is a GREAT TEAM achievement, not only for PMMMG but also Swanage Railway, a BIG, BIG thank you to everyone involved, both past and present, a true reflection of the effort that has been put in over the last 11 years.”

The Awards will be presented at the HRA AGM in Bath on the evening of 8th February 2014.


23rd December 2013 

Two Bulleid coaches now in traffic

History was made in March 2014 when two restored classic 1940s Southern Railway Bulleid passenger carriages ran to Corfe Castle for the first time since the summer of 1966 – when England won the World Cup at Wembley. 

More than 800 of the distinctive Bulleids were built for the Southern Railway and British Railways during the late 1940s and early 1950s but only 16 survive in preservation – four on the Swanage Railway, two already restored and two awaiting restoration.

The special run of the two restored wooden framed Bulleid carriages from Swanage to Corfe Castle and Norden Park & Ride took place on Saturday, 15 March, 2014; during the Swanage Railway's first ever London and South Western Railway Weekend.

A team of 18 dedicated Swanage Railway volunteers has taken more than three years and 10,000 hours of work to restore one of the Bulleid carriages, the 1947 48-seat first and third class compartment coach No. 5761 to its former 1940s glory – at a total cost of £110,000.

Withdrawn in 1968 and sold privately, No. 5761 had the distinction of being the last Bulleid coach to be in traffic with British Rail.

Before the volunteers started work, specialist contractors carried out major structural work on the historic coach from the heyday of express steam trains – replacing much of its steel underframes and part of its wooden structure as well as installing a new wooden floor.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony to welcome No. 5761 back into service took place at Swanage station at 10am on Saturday, 15 March, 2014 – after which No. 5761, and fellow 1947 Bulleid brake coach No. 4365, then formed a special 10.26am train to Corfe Castle and Norden with special guests on board.

Painted in the British Railways Southern Region green livery of the mid-1950s, the two Bulleid coaches formed the 'branch train' service during the Swanage Railway's London and South Western Railway Weekend with the public able to enjoy its charming 1940s first class atmosphere.

Swanage Railway Trust Chairman Gavin Johns said: "The return of No. 5761 to traffic is the culmination of more than three years and 10,000 hours of hard work by a small team of volunteers. They are to be congratulated for their determination, professionalism and attention to detail – a marvellous job.

"The Swanage Railway now has two well restored 1940s Bulleid carriages which are reminiscent of exciting holidays to the seaside as well as more mundane journeys to school and work over nearly 20 years. These two Bulleid carriages are an important part of our railway heritage," he added.

Designed by Oliver Bulleid of the Southern Railway, the distinctive Bulleid coaches were used on express trains from London to Southampton, Bournemouth and Weymouth from the 1940s until the end of steam in 1967.

With their comfortable moquette seating, chrome luggage racks, wooden panelling and framed wall prints of local tourist spots, Bulleid coaches were used on branch trains between Wareham and Swanage from 1964 to 1966.

Swanage Railway Heritage Coach Restoration Programme Project Manager Mike Stollery said: "I am delighted to see it back in service after being in store for 20 years.  I hope passengers enjoy travelling in this historic coach which has already stirred memories of railway travel more than 60 years ago.

"The internal work has involved making and fitting new ceilings and veneered wall linings, fitting recovered seats, repairing luggage racks, laying new flooring, restoring and refitting toilet fittings, renewing electrics and fixing countless fittings before painting and varnishing," he added.

Built at Eastleigh during 1947 and providing 24 first class and 24 third class seats, No. 5761 was used by British Railways on express trains on the London to Salisbury and Exeter line as well as the London to Weymouth line.

A brake coach, No. 4365 was built at Eastleigh during 1947 and has 48 third class seats. After working the London to Bournemouth line, it was withdrawn by British Rail in 1966 and sold to the Army. It took six years, 12,000 volunteer hours and £85,000 to return it to traffic at Swanage during 2012.

The Swanage Railway has two Bulleid coaches awaiting restoration and donations for this work are welcome. Please visit our appeals page for more information.  Cheques can be sent to the Swanage Railway Trust Heritage Coach Fund, Station House, Swanage, Dorset BH19 1HB.

2013 Poole Tourism Awards

Dedicated staff and members of the Swanage Railway in Dorset are celebrating after their rebuilt heritage line through the Isle of Purbeck received an award – for its important contribution in boosting local tourism and increasing the number of visitors.

The five and a half mile steam-operated railway from Norden Park & Ride to Corfe Castle, Harman's Cross, Herston Halt and Swanage carries around 200,000 passengers a year and contributes some £10 million a year to the local economy.

Praising and recognising the Swanage Railway's investment and effort which 'significantly increases' the number of visitors to Poole and the surrounding area, the supporting tourism accolade came at the 2013 Poole Tourism Awards sponsored by property agents and surveyors Sibbett Gregory.

Earlier in the year, the Swanage Railway won a Bronze Award from the Green Tourism Business Scheme organised by the not-for-profit Green Business organisation based in the Scottish town of Perth.

Managed and developed by the volunteer-run Swanage Railway Trust, a registered charity – with the steam and diesel trains run by the Swanage Railway Company – all profits from the operations are ploughed back into the Swanage Railway in order to develop, improve and extend the heritage line.

The Swanage Railway Trust has some 4,000 members and some 400 regular volunteers who help to run the train services – and maintain the infrastructure – supported by a team of paid staff, both full-time and seasonal.

Swanage Railway general manager Richard Jones said: "We pride ourselves on giving our visitors an enjoyable, friendly and memorable day out and this award is recognition of the Swanage Railway's important contribution in increasing the number of visitors to the area.

"As well as offering a return steam train trip over five and a half miles of line through the beautiful Isle of Purbeck – from a castle to the coast – there is the ball clay mine museum next to Norden station as well as the goods shed museum, exhibition coach and cinema coach at Corfe Castle station.

"By leaving your vehicle next to our park and ride station at Norden, the Swanage Railway is also a very enjoyable and hassle free way of exploring the history of Corfe Castle and Swanage as well as all that Purbeck countryside in between.

"Our dedicated staff – both volunteer and paid – work very hard, day in and day out, to run the Swanage Railway's train services and it's a major commitment for our people because we run daily from the end of March to the end of October and then during weekends for the rest of the year.

"So the first passenger train of the day can run at 10am, a driver, fireman and cleaner will have been up since 6am raising stream in the locomotive and preparing the day's train service. While we have local volunteers, others travel from further afield such as London, the west country and the midlands.

"The only break our staff have from running trains is during our annual six week engineering shutdown ­– in January and the first half of February – when our staff work on renewal projects and maintenance work before the Swanage Railway reopens for business," explained Mr Jones.

Controversially closed by British Rail and demolished in 1972, the Swanage Railway has been rebuilt from nothing since 1976 – the line taking just seven weeks to lift for scrap and more than 30 long years to relay.

The Swanage Railway always welcomes new volunteers with full training being given. For an informal chat – and to find out more – contact volunteer co-ordinator Mike Whitwam on 01929 475212 or email

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6th November 2013

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Where People Matter

Watch a video about the contributions made by the volunteers on the railway. Click below to watch it on our YouTube site.


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