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Withdrawn in 1968 and sold privately, No. 5761 had the distinction of being the last Bulleid coach to be in traffic with British Rail.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.
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
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
6th November 2013
A volunteer ‘Friends of Wareham Railway Station’ community group has been set up by Beryl Ezzard. Anyone interested in volunteering is welcome to contact Beryl by e-mailing her at:
With effect from 1st January 2012 annual Swanage Railway Trust subscription rates will be amended as follows:
· Annual adult membership to rise to £21.00 from £18.00 currently
· Senior membership (over age 60) to rise to £15.00 from £12.00 currently*
· Family membership to rise to £42.00 from £36.00 currently
* The senior membership category will no longer be available to new members with effect from 1st January 2012. However, it will remain in place for existing senior members.
The junior membership (5 to 18 years of age) annual subscription rate will remain unaltered at £12.00
Premier Life Membership (PLM) remains closed to new joiners.
It is hoped to issue a new membership form to coincide with the start of the 2012 main season.
SRT Membership Secretary