A convoy of four 1960s main line diesel locomotives has arrived at the Swanage Railway to star in the line’s Diesel Gala and Beer Festival.
The festival takes place from Friday, 6th to Sunday, 8th May and features an intensive three-train service, and a beer festival at Corfe Castle station organised and operated by Purbeck Kitchens. Admission to the beer festival will be free with a token system in operation for the purchase of drinks.
At the Purbeck Mineral and Mining Museum’s two-feet-gauge line, next to Norden station, 1956 Ruston and Hornsby 48DL industrial diesel locomotive No. 283871 will operate demonstration ball clay trains between 11 am and 4.30 pm each day.
At 12 noon on Friday, 6th May, the newly restored narrow gauge locomotive, which took three years of work and cost £12,000, will be officially welcomed into service with a ceremonial ribbon being cut by a principal donor to the restoration project.
The convoy of locomotives arrived on Tuesday, 3rd May, after a two-day journey that started on the North York Moors Railway in Yorkshire. Another locomotive arrived last week and one more is expected to arrive on Thursday, 5th May. In total, eight heritage diesel locomotives will feature in the gala.
Trains will operate along the entire length of the nine-mile line, past Norden station and beyond Furzebrook to the River Frome, where it will be within sight of Wareham and half-a-mile short of the London to Weymouth main line.
Today, Thursday, 5th May, a special ‘Thirty Seven Thursday’ preview event will be held with a day of diesel and steam trains between Norden, Corfe Castle, and Swanage featuring Class 37 diesel locomotive No. 37 703.
On Friday and Saturday evenings, ‘Beerex’ special trains will run, hauled by D182 on Friday and 50 026 Indomitable on Saturday.
Subject to availability, the visiting diesel locomotives will be:
- Class 25 No. D7612 (TOPS No. 25 262) courtesy of South Devon Diesel Traction;
- Class 31 No. 31 128 courtesy of Nemesis Rail;
- Class 37 No. 37 703 courtesy of the Harry Needle Railroad Company;
- Class 44 No. D4 Great Gable (TOPS No. 44 004) courtesy of the Peak Locomotive Company;
- Class 46 No. D182 (TOPS No. 46 045) courtesy of the Peak Locomotive Company;
- Class 50 No. 50 026 Indomitable courtesy of PTG Tours.
Appearing at the gala will be two ex-British Railways Class 33 heritage diesel locomotives that are based on the Swanage Railway.
D6515 Lt Jenny Lewis RN was formerly numbered 33 012. As D6515 it hauled the last train through Broadstone to Wimborne when it cleared Wimborne’s station yard of wagons after British Rail closed the line to freight trains in May 1977.
Class 33 No. 33 111 hauled the last 4TC push-pull carriage set to Corfe Castle and Swanage on a Poole Grammar School Railway Society-chartered enthusiasts’ train in September 1971.
Full details of the Diesel Gala and Dorset Beer Festival, including timetables and fares, are available from the Swanage Railway’s website at http://www.swanagerailway.co.uk. Reduced price fares apply if tickets are purchased online in advance of the event.