Paintings by a West Sussex artist are being put on sale to raise money for the Swanage Railway’s Save Our Service Appeal, a £360,000 fundraiser set up to help the Swanage Railway survive the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
Exhibited at the Mulberry Tree Gallery in Swanage, Oliver Pyle has produced four watercolour scenes of steam trains on the Swanage Railway with 250 prints of each scene being for sale.
Oliver explained: “When the train services stopped in March because of Covid-19, and we could no longer hear the steam whistles in the town and the wider countryside, Swanage lost some of its charm and energy.
“As a steam preservation enthusiast, and a huge fan of the Swanage Railway, I wanted to do whatever I could to help in trying to close the funding gap that Covid-19 had created for the popular heritage line which has been rebuilt from nothing since 1976.
“Whether bringing day-trippers to the seaside or entertaining the rail enthusiasts, it is impossible to imagine Swanage without its steam railway. Not only does it contribute significantly to the economic well-being of the town but it adds so much charm and character to Swanage and the Isle of Purbeck.
“The tremendous amount of work put in by several generations of volunteers to rebuild the Swanage Railway over more than 40 years cannot be lost. If the Swanage Railway, and other preserved railways across the country, are unable to survive then an important part of our heritage will be gone,” added Oliver who has been drawing and painting since a child, becoming a professional artist in 2012.
Oliver first visited the Swanage Railway in 1982 as a child when the Swanage Railway was composed of a small industrial locomotive and two carriages, which ran on a few hundred yards of track at the station.
He recalled: “I visited the railway and watched it take its first few steps towards establishing itself again and the opening of Herston Halt, one mile out of Swanage, in 1984 seemed like a huge step forward.
“I remember walking along the weed-strewn trackbed at a disused and very dishevelled Corfe Castle station and wondering if the railway would ever come back,” added Oliver.
The limited edition prints feature a steam locomotive based at the Swanage Railway, which includes:
- London and South Western Railway 1899 T9 class No. 30120 at Swanage station
- Southern Railway U Class No. 31806 south of Corfe Castle
- Southern Railway Bulleid Pacific No. 34072 ‘257 Squadron’ between Swanage and Harman’s Cross
- British Railways Class 4 tank No. 80104 steaming into Corfe Castle station.
The Swanage Railway’s fund-raising chairman, Randy Coldham, said: “We are delighted and very grateful to Oliver for using his considerable artistic talents to produce such wonderfully evocative watercolour scenes of the Swanage Railway to help raise money towards our £360,000 ‘Save Our Service’ appeal.
“We have asked a lot of our supporters this year, for which we are extremely grateful, and Oliver’s generosity will allow them to help the Swanage Railway and have a marvellous pictorial reminder of what we do best – running steam trains through the Isle of Purbeck countryside,” added Randy, a volunteer signalman on the Swanage Railway.
Up to the 11th September 2020, the Save Our Service Appeal stood at £283,000.
If you would like to donate to the SOS Appeal, please click here.
Oliver’s prints are £130 each and can be purchased from Mulberry Tree Gallery by clicking here to visit their website. They are also available from Swanage Station shop when trains are running.
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