A trip on the Swanage Railway
Our walk takes us into Corfe Castle for lunch and a steam train!
(Photos/words © urban75, 15th-16th May, 2009)
After a long battle with Wareham residents - who weren't down with the idea of a railway thundering through their town centre - the line to Swanage finally opened in 1885.
Operated by the London & South Western Railway Company, the first public train left Swanage station on 20th May 1885.
Through coaches and trains once ran to Swanage from London and the industrial towns of the Midlands and North of England.
Such was the popularity of the resort that the station was extensively altered and extended in 1937, with sympathetic building work ensuring that the design blended in well with the 1885 original.
With the Ball Clay, Purbeck Stone, and Portland Stone goods traffic switching to road transport from the 50s, and the growth of private car ownership the line was deemed unprofitable, and slated for closure in . 1967.
Despite fierce local opposition the line succumbed on the 3rd January 1972, when British Railways closed the line and lifted all the track.
[Corfe Castle station]
Happily, a group of enthusiasts got together to rebuild the line, occupying the disused Swanage Railway Society in 1975.
The track slowly expanded, first to Herston, on the outskirts of Swanage, and then a further three miles onwards to the village of Harman's Cross.
By 1995, Corfe Castle and then Norden were reached, with the crucial remaining section of track between Norden and the Network Rail stopblock at Motala near Furzebrook being restored in place 3rd January 2002.
Despite the physical connection, only special railtour services have been able to traverse the full route thus far, with the first steam services between Wareham and Swanage being 'The Dorset Coast Express' in May 2009.
In the ticket office at Corfe Castle station.
Corfe Castle station view.
Train ready to depart to Norden, the current terminus of the line.
On Saturday 2 May and Bank Holiday Monday 4 May 2009, history was made when special trains hauled by a huge 1940s express steam locomotive ran between London and Swanage for the first time since the summer of 1967.
The stationmaster looks almost as old as the station!
Looking towards Swanage from the footbridge, which was installed in April, 2007.
The 1893 London, Brighton and South Coast Railway footbridge was originally situated at Merton Park in London.
Old goods shed.
View showing Corfe Castle in the background.
On the way to Swanage.
View from the train window.
Some of our happy (ish) bunch of fellow travellers.
Just two people got off at Harman's Cross station - and they turned out to be near-celebrities!
The two passengers were Tracy Thorn and Ben Watt from the excellent Everything But The Girl.
Arriving at Swanage station.
The station has a single platform (with bay), a run round loop for the locomotive and a single track goods shed.
The decorative bunting adds a nice touch and serves as a reminder that, in its heyday, this was a very popular holiday destination.
Attractive station building built in gray Purbeck stone.
The station is perfectly situated, right in the middle of the town and close to the sea front.
You can only wonder at the kind of idiots who thought it would be a good idea to close down the line in the first place.
More railway stuff here: Photos of abandoned railways, disused stations, and railway architecture.
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