Steam locomotives team up for special weekend at the Swanage Railway

257 Squadron
Credit: Andrew P.M. Wright

The Swanage Railway has announced that the closed Somerset and Dorset line will be remembered this November as steam locomotives team up for a special weekend.

The two-day ‘Somerset and Dorset Weekend’ event will be held on Saturday 17th and Sunday, 18th November 2018 and will see three classes of steam locomotives that worked on the former main line that linked Bournemouth and Poole with Blandford Forum, Templecombe and Bath.

Hauling trains between Swanage, Herston Halt, Harman’s Cross, Corfe Castle and Norden will be LMS ‘Black 5’ No. 44871, Battle of Britain class Bulleid Pacific No. 34072 ‘257 Squadron’ and BR Standard Class 4 Tank No. 80104.

44871 is appearing on the Swanage Railway courtesy of Riley and Son (E) Limited.

The ‘Somerset and Dorset Weekend’ will see 12 passenger trains a day operate in each direction between Swanage, Harman’s Cross, Corfe Castle and Norden.

The Swanage Railway is always looking for new volunteers to help run the railway. Interested? Call 01929 475212 or email [email protected]

What did the officials say?

Swanage Railway Company executive chairman Trevor Parsons said:

“The controversial closure of the Somerset and Dorset main line 52 years ago was probably the most contentious action recommended by Dr Richard Beeching in his infamous ‘The Reshaping of British Railways’ report.

“The Somerset and Dorset line still has a special place in the hearts of railway enthusiasts countrywide because of the length of the line – more than 100 miles, some of it double track – the pretty countryside through which the railway wound and also the variety of steam locomotives used to haul the line’s passenger and freight trains.

“The line from Blandford Forum to Templecombe was lifted in 1967 while the line from Blandford Forum to Broadstone – where the Somerset and Dorset joined the Brockenhurst to Poole line via Ringwood and Wimborne – was lifted in 1970.

“With most of the Somerset and Dorset’s route lost under trees and dense undergrowth, very little trace of the line remains – for much of its length – with bridges demolished, cuttings filled in and much of the railway land having been built on or buried under road schemes. Thankfully, the Somerset and Dorset’s Shillingstone and Midsomer Norton stations have been preserved by dedicated volunteers.

“Somerset and Dorset trains from Bath, Templecombe and Blandford Forum ended their journeys at the old Bournemouth West station in Westbourne where the large Victorian station was demolished in 1970 with part of the Wessex Way town centre by-pass being built in its place,” added Mr Parsons, a Swanage Railway train guard and signalman.

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